One of the most beautiful places in Dubrovnik, definitely worth a visit, is the Franciscan monastery garden. Right next to it you will find one of the three oldest pharmacies in the world. As soon as you enter Stradun through the Pile Gate, pay attention to the church that’s located to your left.
I know you’re thinking “Oh, well it’s just another church…” but believe me, you don’t want to miss this! As part of this Franciscan monastery built in 1317 there’s also a beautiful garden filled with medicinal herbs, such as mint and sage. Although it was initially used by the Franciscans only, over the time they began helping and treating patients outside the monastery walls.
The world’s oldest pharmacy and best Dubrovnik souvenirs
The most interesting fact about it is that pharmacy is not only the third oldest pharmacy in the world, but also the only one that has been continiously working up to this day.
In this pharmacy, you can buy the most original souvenir from the Dubrovnik region – creams and lotions made from roses and other Mediterranean plants produced according to the original recipes from more than 200 years. Today, Dubrovnik guests are very much familiar with these products, especially the visitors from the Far East, who patiently wait in lines for their supply of scented creams, even in the off-season months. The best selling products is definitely the rose face cream and lavender water.
There’s a legend associated with the name of Francisian Monastery (Mala Braća in Croatian literally means The Little Brothers). In the old Dubrovnik, the sea captain from a rich family just got married and right after his wedding he had to sail away. His wife found out she was pregnant, but to her surprise, instead of one, she gave a birth to the four sons. Since this was very uncommon, she was afraid what would people say so the woman decided to keep the only one son, and to drown the other three babies in the sea. She couldn’t do it herself so she talked her servant into doing the horrible act. He placed the babies into the large bag and he was ready to do as she ordered.
Luckily, the sea captain just returned home from his journey and bumped into the scared servant who told him everything. The captain decided to save the children, and to leave his three sons with Franciscans in their monistery. He was paying for their education, and the Franciscan monks kept the secret. As the years went by, the captain continued helping and visiting his children. One day, he brought four completely identical outfits and told his four sons to put them on. After all four got dressed, he went to his wife, and she couldn’t recognize her ‘real’ son. Later, the four sons went to sea, and successfully sailed for a very long time. The brothers donated a lot of money for the construction of the Franciscan church, as thanks to the God and the priests who saved their lives. In their honour, the church got the name Mala Braća (The little brothers).
The original function of maskerons was draining the water from the roof of the church but this maskeron, placed outside the church is one of the great attractions of Dubrovnik. In a fact, there is no person in Dubrovnik, local or visitor who did not attempt to climb to the top of the narrow owl maskeron and take off and put on the shirt while standing on it. It’s impossible not to see this ritual while staying in Dubrovnik.
Where are the roots of this ritual? According to the legend, it all started because of the young man who was unhappily in love. He made a vow that he will become happy in love only if he climbs to the top of the maskeron, takes off and puts on his shirt again, while standing on it . He tried and tried, and when he finally succeeded he fell in love. The ritual is kept to this day. It’s not easy to preform it, but everyone wants to try it, even though they usually just embarass themselves in front of the bystanders.