The Legend of How Cavtat Got Its Name
There are actually 2 legends surrounding how Cavtat received its name according to one source. However, the most fanciful and entertaining (though somewhat disjointed) one goes somewhat like this:
Cavtislava, the daughter of the Epidaurian ruler, was being being courted by two suitors who each wanted to marry her. Her father extended a challenge to the men saying that he would give his daughter to the man who performed a greater task which he would give. One of the admirers, Commander Stjepan, was ordered to bring water from the source Vodovada in Konavle (hence, the aquaduct). The other man who was a knight and seaman should bring a ship's cargo full of silk obtained from the ship's journey around the world. A festival was held on the day of the opening of the Epidaurian aquaduct, Cavtislava was to drink the water from a golden jar, but when the jar was opened, a lizard leaped out and onto her lap. Cavtislava immediately died of fear. The story goes on to say that the seafarer's ship was sunk by a fierce storm directly in front of Epidarium (remember the Richard the Lion Heart story of a storm nearby) and therefore could not fulfil his task, could not bear the loss of his love Cavtislava. He took the lizard and placed it in the viaduct. In memory of Cavtislava, the town of Cavtat arose following an earthquake which destroyed the original town.
In the city midst
You don't need to go far to get off the beaten path in Cavtat! Just walk uphills between the houses. Narrow streets with cobbled stone cut through the building mass, there are lots of cute old houses with interesting gardens to see. And all of the sudden you are in the nature, behind the houses. A nice change from hanging around the harbour area or on the beaches. And you can find some shadow in the heat of the day. Not that heat was a problem when I was there in april, a nice 20 degrees C!
Baltazar (Baldo) Bogišiċ
Baltazar (Baldo) Bogišiċ, a scientist, a jurist of European fame, and a member of many intellectual societies, was born in Ċavtat on December 7, 1834. He learned successively in Venice, Vienna, Berlin, Munich and Giesen. He has been a professor in Odessa. In 1872 Montenegro's king Nikola invited him to produce the Civil laws. He went several times to Paris where he finally lived from 1898 to 1908. Baltazar Baldo Bogišiċ passed away in Rijeka on April 24, 1908 en route to his native Ċavtat.
The Bogišiċ museum exhibits 18,000 rare volumes from his collection, together with a great many artifacts unearthed in and around Ċavtat and that he had gathered.
Other Important Sights in Cavtat
There are additional sights in Cavtat worth seeing; unfortunately, we didn't have time to see them ourselves but they would certainly have been on my list.
The Rector's Palace
Not to be confused with the Rector's Palace of Dubrovnik, Cavtat's Rector's Palace nevertheless is notable for its Renaissance architecture and today the Rector's Palace houses the library and archives of a famous Cavtat native son, Baltazar Bogosic. Bogosic was a doctor of philosophy and law and a member of many European academies. Bogosic's Palace is also the sight of the Cavtat Museum, where Bogosic's various personal collections are on view. Other artifacts from the Greek & Roman periods are objects of the museum as well.
The mausoleum is the final resting place of the prominent Cavtat shipping family, Racic, and is located in the graveyard of St. Rok. The mausoleum itself was erected in 1921, but the Chapel of St. Rok dates from the 15th century. It was the last wish of Marija Racic. Constructed of white stone from the island of Brac, in the shape of a dome. The structure of the mausoleum is architectural notable itself because "The entire structure was built without a single piece of wood, or any other material except bronze, of which the door and bell were made." Embellishments such as the arch covered with the heads of angels, the floor which tells the "tale of biblical history symbolizing the four evangelists, the main altar and side naves, are full of symbols conveying the three basic stages of human fate: birth, life and death," are certainly worth the visit. In addition, the bell cast itself is inscribed with Mestrovic's own words, "Learn the mystery of love, and you will resolve the mystery of death and believe that life is eternal."
The House of Vlaho Bukovac
The home of famous Croatian artist, Vlaho Bukovac, born in Cavtat was declared a cultural monument in 1969. The house is noted for its architecture and gardens and as the sight of Bukovac's legacy and the heritage of the Bukovac family. The interior has for the most part retained its original characteristics from the early 19th century but the internal wall paintings and the glass doors to the staircase were the work of the artist himself.
Cavtat, built around the bays on either side of a peninsula, is a very attractive small harbour town with several shops and restaurants. There are very pleasant walks around and over the peninsula and plenty of swimming areas.
We visited it by boat from Mlini, and spent most of the day wandering around the town and the peninsula, as there was a rather a cool breeze blowing, so that it wasn't really warm enough for sitting or lying on the beach. We enjoyed a lunch-time snack at Restaurant Dalmacija.