By day, it could be easy to get overwhelmed in Dubrovnik, given the city’s countless ornate buildings and the enormous sea of tourists streaming down the main street, the Stradun. But it’s important to not miss the details, especially the maskeron or gargoyle-like faces that emerge from fountains and walls, adding a delightful quirkiness to the architecture.
Yesterday, we had maskeron madness, spying some fun examples just inside the Old Town’s Pile Gate, which is on the western side of the city. Many visitors, canines and locals passed them by unnoticed. Tourists snapped shots of the nearby Onofrio’s Fountains, missing the maskeron, which seemed to be waiting for the perfect moment to gobble up their shins from behind.
Rainwater once drained from building-tops via pipes, spraying out water from these ground level maskerons‘ mouths, but the pipes have since been rerouted. On Onofrio’s Fountains, you’ll see higher maskerons still in action, gushing out water that many still drink today.
One of the most legendary maskerons is near the Franciscan monastery, close to the steep stairway that visitors climb to reach the city walls. As you come through the Pile Gate, it’s on the left side, about a foot off the ground. According to legend, if you can stand on top of the head facing the wall, maintain your balance, and remove your shirt, you will forever be lucky in love. We didn’t learn about this custom until after we spotted this maskeron – and we already feel quite lucky in love anyways :) – but it was nevertheless fun seeing these maskeron balancing attempts and learning more about the legend afterwards.
Have you attempted to balance on the Dubrovnik maskeron, and if so, are you now lucky in love? Which city’s architectural details do you fancy?
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Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.