Photograph: Mario BraunPhotograph: Mario BraunPhotograph: Mario Braun

Name of Monument:

Jesuit Church of St Ignatius, college and Jesuit stairs, Dubrovnik

Also known as:

Colegium Ragusinum


Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, Croatia

Contact DetailsJesuit Church of St Ignatius, college and Jesuit stairs, Dubrovnik
Poljana Ruđera
Boškovića 6
20 000 Dubrovnik
T : +385 20 323 500
F : +385 20 324 650
Residence of the Society of Jesus  (Responsible Institution)


Church (1699–1725); college (second half of the 17th and first half of the 18th century); stairs (1738)


Architect of the first college and the central church ( not built): Serafino Fabrini (active 1661–1662); designer of the longitudinal Church of St. Ignatius: Andrea Pozzo (1699–1725); sculptures on the facade of the church: Marino Gropelli (1662–1728); wall paintings in the sanctuary of the church: Gaetano Garcia (active 1735–1738); renovation of the college and architect of the Jesuit stairs: Pietro Passalacqua (1690–1748)

Denomination / Type of monument:

Religious architecture, a High Baroque longitudinal nave church with side chapels and lofts, a Baroque four-winged college and Late Baroque city staircase


Society of Jesus


Pronounced Baroque features are in evidence in the very location of this Jesuit complex. Situated in a dominant position in the oldest, southern part of the city there was particular investment to ensure its position, seen in the extant plan of the first rector, Gianbattisto Canauli (1653), which shows that through purchases and demolition of houses an entire neighbourhood was redeveloped and rebuilt.
Construction started in 1662, under the eye of Jesuit Serafino Fabrini from Rome. The original design included a four-winged and, in addition, a polygonal church. The 1667 earthquake halted building of this exceptional rotunda – similar to that of St. Vitus (Vid) in Rijeka, however. The earthquake, apart from temporarily stopping construction, also resulted in the territorial expansion of the complex – thus making possible the construction of a longitudinal church more suitable to the needs of the Jesuits (1699–1725) – after a design by the leading Jesuit architect and painter, Andrea Pozzo of Trent. The final phase and peak of building development of the Jesuit complex was marked by the construction of a monumental stone stairway (1738), the work of  a Roman architect of Sicilian descent, Pietro Passalacqua, which linked the square in front of the college and church with the town centre.


Dedicated to the founder of the Society, St. Ignatius, the Jesuit Church of St Ignatius in Dubrovnik draws on the monumental prototype of Il Gesù, the Jesuit church in Rome. However, Andrea Pozzo, to encapsulate the stylistic sensibilities of the High Baroque, transformed this Early Baroque prototype. As with most of Pozzo's architecture (for example, the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius, Rome) the Church of St Ignatius, Dubrovnik, is a nave, barrel-vaulted church, lit by a basilica, and with side chapels and lofts. The uniform rhythm of the spatial units is enlivened, however, with the alternation of broad bays with chapels and narrow bays with galleries (separated from each other with Corinthian pilasters). The central bay is emphasised by the transversal axis of the side entrances. The dominant longitudinal axis culminates (as in Pozzo's reworking of the Jesuit church in Vienna) in scenic treatment of the sanctuary; powerful in its plastic articulation and rich in wall paintings.
A similar High Baroque aesthetic characterises the facade of the church: a dynamic central zone with freestanding pillars and a monumental portal decorated with sculptural angels, by the Venetian sculptor and architect, Marino Gropelli.
The low entry-wing of the college, from which the concluding façade of the high side-wing continues, creates an undulating, theatrical backdrop to the square below and, overall, a graceful whole is achieved in the church's elevation. Sculptures by Pietro Passalacqua enrich the traditional interior of the four-winged college, divided into internal corridors and external sequences of rooms. Passalacqua's main contribution is, however, the monumental Jesuit stairway, designed according to the well-known Spanish Steps in Rome (also Late Baroque).

View Short Description

The Jesuit complex with its college, church and approach staircase is a unique production of Baroque architecture and town planning in Croatia. Founded from the bequest of Dubrovnik Jesuit, Marin Gundulić, it was created over a period in excess of 100 years (1653–1765). Built according to the designs of several architects, two of whom – Andrea Pozzo and Pietro Passalacqua – belong at the highest level in European architecture, its construction charts a sequence of stylistic constructions. The complex has Early Baroque characteristics in the four-winged ground plan of the college; the High Baroque is seen in the spatial organisation and paintings of the nave church with its side chapels and, finally, the Late Baroque is seen in the dynamic and scenic conception of the approach stairway.

How Monument was dated:

On the basis of documents, archival plans and stylistic features.

Special features

Interior of the church

Jesuit Complex in Dubrovnik


Andrea Pozzo (1699–1725)

High Baroque longitudinal single-nave type with lateral chapels and dominant sanctuary

View of the sanctuary

Walls and ceiling of the sanctuary, Jesuit Church of St Ignatius


Gaetano Garcia (active 1735–1738)

The architect of the Church of St. Ignatius in Dubrovnik, Andrea Pozzo, envisaged a fresco painting for the sanctuary, dividing it with pillars into three parts – as he had done in his own painting in the church of the same name in Rome – and setting the iconographical programme. The programme was perceived as the Apotheosis of the Work of St. Ignatius in the central field of the sanctuary, the Encounter of St. Ignatius with St. Francis Xavier and St. Francis Borgia in the side fields and St. Ignatius in Heavenly Glory on the ceiling of the sanctuary. The wall paintings were executed by the Sicilian painter of Spanish descent (who trained in Rome and Naples), Gaetano Garcia. Looking to show case patterns from Rome, like Pozzo's St. Ignatius and the Church of St. Agnese in Agone (with dome frescos painted by Carlo Ferri), Garcia achieved an impressive High Baroque composition, with a pronounced dynamic, opulent colouring and an effective play of light and shadow. The largest Baroque fresco cycle in Dalmatia, it gives some inkling of the splendour intended for the interior of the Dubrovnik Jesuit church, had the painting programme – which probably included the ceiling of the nave – been carried out to the end.

St. Ignatius in Heavenly Glory

Ceiling of the sanctuary, Jesuit Church of St Ignatius


Gaetano Garcia (active 1735–1738)

For this painting, Garcia was inspired by the composition which Cirro Ferri (1634–1689) painted on the dome of the church St Agnese in Rome. Both works were based on the experience and compositional patterns of Pietro da Cortona (1596–1669).

Apotheosis of the Work of St. Ignatius



Gaetano Garcia (active 1735–1738)

The central figure of St. Ignatius is painted most probably after a print depicting the marble statue of the saint made by Camillo and Giuseppe Rusconi in 1733 for the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome.


Jesuit Church of St Ignatius, college and Jesuit stairs


Pietro Passalacqua (1690–1748)

Passalacqua inventively reinterpreted the Roman town plan for use in Dubrovnik. With a convex–concave, axially conceived staircase space (in the axis of which is the entrance to the college) he created a deep scenic vista, with which in a distinctive Late Baroque manner, he integrated the Jesuit complex into the structure of the city. Extensive demolition of existing houses was necessary to accommodate the staircase and to widen the street for access. Thanks to Passalacqua’s staircase, the Jesuit complex in Dubrovnik is considered as the highest quality example of Baroque architecture and town planning on the Croatian Adriatic coast.

Selected bibliography:

Prijatelj, K., “Garcijine freske u dubrovačkoj isusovačkoj crkvi” in Peristil 16–17, 1973–1974, pp. 95–106.
Marković, V., “Pietro Passalacqua u Dubrovniku” in Peristil 24, 1981, pp. 95–114.
Prijatelj, K., “Barok u Dalmaciji” in Horvat, A., (ed) Barok u Hrvatskoj,  Zagreb, 1982, pp. 649–916.
Marković, V., Zidno slikarstvo 17. i 18. stoljeća u Dalmaciji, Zagreb, 1985, pp. 54–71.

Citation of this web page:

Katarina Horvat-Levaj, Mirjana Repanić-Braun "Jesuit Church of St Ignatius, college and Jesuit stairs, Dubrovnik" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2024.;BAR;hr;Mon11;5;en

Prepared by: Katarina Horvat-LevajKatarina Horvat-Levaj

SURNAME: Horvat-Levaj
NAME: Katerina

AFFILIATION: Institute of Art History, Zagreb

TITLE: PhD, Scientific Consultant

Katerina Horvat-Levaj graduated with a BA in Art History and Archaeology in 1981 from the University of Zagreb (Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Art History). In 1985 she obtained her MA and in 1988 she was awarded a scholarship at the University of Padua. In 1995 she defended her Doctorate at Zagreb University on Representative Residential Architecture of the Baroque in Dubrovnik. Since 1982, she has been employed at the Institute of Art History in Zagreb, and is presently a Senior Research Associate. Katarina also teaches at the University of Split. At the University of Zagreb she participates at doctoral level in the Faculty of Croatian Studies and the faculties of Architecture and Philosophy.
, Mirjana Repanić-BraunMirjana Repanić-Braun

SURNAME: Repanić-Braun
NAME: Mirjana

AFFILIATION: Institute of Art History, Zagreb

TITLE: PhD, Scientific Consultant

From 1981 to 1982 Mirjana Repanić-Braun was a curator of the Academy’s collection of sculpture in the Gliptoteque of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences; from 1983 to 1998 she worked in the Croatian Academy’s Archives for Visual Arts. Mirjana has been employed as a researcher at the Institute of Art History in Zagreb since 1998: from 2001, as head of the scientific project Baroque Painting, Sculpture and Crafts of Continental Croatia, and since 2006, as head of the scientific project Baroque, Classicism and Historicism in the Arts of North Croatia. Mirjana teaches Art History at the universities of Rijeka and Split. At the University of Zagreb, she participates at doctoral level in the Faculty of Croatian Studies and the Faculty of Philosophy.

Translation by: Graham McMaster

MWNF Working Number: HR 05


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