Meet The Ancient Dubrovnik Pharmacy – Founded in 1317

Lauren Simmonds

ancient dubrovnik pharmacy
Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL

June the 21st, 2024 – Not your every day one-stop-drug-shop – the ancient Dubrovnik pharmacy came to be way back in 1317. Envisioned as an in-house pharmacy for Franciscan friars, it later opened its doors to the wider public.

Dubrovnik is famed for many things and certainly possesses a million incredible and unique attributes that are worth shouting about (and we do). Among the most glorified lies one that seems to slip into the huge shadow cast by the city’s equally impressive artistic and cultural scene – medicine.

Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL

While Croatia has been gaining popularity as a health/medical tourism destination on the global scene for several years now, that isn’t what we’re referring to here either. Did you know that Dubrovnik, among all of its other invaluable qualities, boasts the oldest still working pharmacy in Europe? Meet the ancient Dubrovnik pharmacy.

Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL

In amongst the stunning architecture, indescribable ambience and unique historical story, lies the beautiful yet otherwise unassuming Old Pharmacy (Ljekarnica Male Braće), which was first established by the Franciscan monastery of the Friar’s Minor 700 years ago. This pharmacy has been in working operation since the year 1317, making it stand out as one of the most unique places of interest in the world. Dubrovnik has been in the vanguard of healthcare and social welfare throughout history, and the ancient Dubrovnik pharmacy is a firm testament to that.

Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL

While human rights didn’t really exist in ”more civilised” nations, the Dubrovnik Republic banned slavery. While wealthy, powerful countries forced others to submit with acts of violence and invasion, the Dubrovnik Republic used diplomacy, civil talks and negotiations. While the typically considered ”better developed” countries of Western Europe freely allowed their sewage to run through the open streets and saw their populations suffer from horrendous (and often preventable) diseases and undergo some absolutely blood curdling operations only to prematurely die – Dubrovnik had cleaning running water and a safe sewage system, as well as various medicines that were way ahead of their time, many of which, particularly natural remedies, are still sworn by and are very much in use to this day. 

Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL

Given the utterly unique character of the city and indeed the former autonomous republic as it was, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that the Pearl of the Adriatic boasts such an impressive pharmacy. Still, quite unbelievably, this isn’t actually as well known as it ought to be. As mentioned, the ancient Dubrovnik pharmacy still remains in function and has numerous medicines and pills and potions from days of olde still on display. Not your average place to pop in for some paracetamol to cure a lingering hangover, to say the least.

Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL

The ancient Dubrovnik pharmacy attracts a huge number of visitors and tourists (not just those with colds and headaches) every year. However, as previously mentioned, it somehow still doesn’t quite get the level of attention and praise it so deserves.


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