Walking back from St John's Fortress along Pustijerna, you'll find yourself round the back of the cathedral, south of which stretches one of the city's old­est quarters, Pustijerna; much of this predates the seventeenth-century earth­quake and preserves a medieval feel, with crumbling, ancient houses crowding in on narrow lanes spanned here and there by arches. Dominating the western side of Pustijerna, the Jesuit Church (Isusovačka crkva), Dubrovnik's largest, is modelled, like most Jesuit places of worship, on the enormous church of the Ges in Rome. It certainly boasts Dubrovnik's most frivolous ecclesiastical interior, with pinks and blues swirling across the ceiling, and a bombastic main altar with scenes from the life of St Ignatius, founder of the Jesuit order – the central panel shows the man renouncing all worldly things (here symbolized by a bevy of comely Baroque ladies).

The steps that lead down from here also had a Roman model – the Spanish Steps – and sweep down to Gunduličva poljana, the square behind the cathedral which is the site of the city's morning fruit and vegetable market. In the middle stands Ivan Rendič's statue of Ivan Gundulič 1589-1638), the poet whose curly locks adorn one side of the 50Kn banknote. Gundulič's epic poem Osman, celebrating the victories of the Poles over the Turks, revealed a typical Ragusan paradox: despite growing rich through trade with the Ottoman state, the locals always sympathized with the empire's enemies, espe­cially if they were Slavs. Gundulič's poetry found a nationwide audience in the nineteenth century, when a burgeoning sense of cultural patriotism generated  new pride in the literary traditions of the past. The unveiling of the statue in 1893 occasioned one of the biggest demonstrations of solidarity the nation had ever seen, with the cream of Croatian society converging on the city to indulge in what amounted to a week-long street party.


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