All of the history of the old Dubrovnik passed through this lovely, though not luxurious palace. Moderation and simplicity, ever present in the life of old Dubrovnik, was affirmed in this building of great significance to the Republic. This simple, harmonic, Gothic- Renaissance palace appears to be too modest for the once wealthy Dubrovnik Republic. This however, it not surprising, as this measure of harmony without excessive lavishness was consistently present in all the spheres of life in old Dubrovnik. Like the Republic itself, this building experienced a stormy history, it was destroyed in gunpowder explosions several times and shaken on several occasions by earthquakes, however, we still stand today before its lovely façade and admire the harmony of ambience and stone, and all the artists who gave it, in its simplicity, this luxurious glow of peaceful beauty. It leaves quite an impression, and has kept alive the spirit of the past so strongly that the visitor is instantly and powerfully enveloped in the atmosphere of centuries gone past, such that he is almost surprised to not come across the Rector accompanied by the members of the Small Council. The Dubrovnik Rector lived in the palace for the duration of his one month mandate (without his family). He was permitted to leave the palace only on official business, otherwise leaving the palace was forbidden. In addition to his many state tasks, a special ceremony was held every evening in which he accepted the keys to the city gates which he was responsible for overnight, so that no one could enter into the town through the night. In the morning, a similar ceremony was held in which he returned the keys. And that was the way it was for centuries, until the fall of the Republic. The Rector's Palace was also the seat of the Small Council, there were halls for official receptions and audiences, it was the seat of the Republic administration, there was an armoury, gunpowder warehouse, sentry post and a dungeon. According to the Dubrovnik chronicles, earlier there was a smaller citadel on this spot, but it was completely destroyed in a gunpowder explosion in 1435. The builder Onofrio di Giordana della Cava from Naples, who was then building the Dubrovnik waterline, was hired by the Dubrovnik authorities to construct a new Rector's Palace where the ruins of the old one stood. He built the new palace in the middle of the 15th century. However, soon afterwards, another gunpowder explosion in 1463 again seriously damaged the palace, especially its western facade. The palace was repaired with an addition of the Renaissance style under the supervision of Florence builder Salvio de Michele, in cooperation with a number of local builders. After the palace was again damaged in the 1667 earthquake, the atrium was partially reconstructed with Baroque additions. In this way, as the result of unavoidable events, the palace is a symbiosis of all three styles: the basic Gothic palace, with later reconstructions in the Renaissance and Baroque styles, all together forming one harmonic and lovely entity. The western, entrance wall of the palace, with its arcade and arches, with its beautifully carved capitals, exceptionally decorative portal and other details appears lavish. The palace atrium is simply a harmonic space, with rows of columns embellished with its Corinthian capitals, galleries, a beautiful Baroque staircase and exceptional acoustics is today one of the most impressive ambient for chamber concerts as part of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The atrium is ornamented with a small fountain from the 15th century and the bust of one of the most deserved sons of Dubrovnik, the sailor Miho Pracat. This humble monument, erected on a decision of the Republic in 1638, is the work of Italian sculptor Piero Paolo Giacometti. It is a great and the only recognition of its kind, granted by the Republic to an ordinary citizen throughout its entire long history.
After the fall of the Dubrovnik Republic, the palace was looted by both occupational forces, and valuable items of Dubrovnik's cultural heritage, carefully collected over the centuries, taken away. The palace was also damaged by earthquakes and fires. Today the Rector's Palace is home to the cultural - historical wing of the Dubrovnik Museum. The exhibition halls have been set up to provide an autochthonous ambient with the items on display from the previous centuries of the Dubrovnik Republic. In addition to period furniture, there are many portraits of the Dubrovnik aristocrats and important people in Dubrovnik and paintings by the great masters (Carraci, Tintoretto, Giogione, Bordone, Hamzic and others). Also on display is the collection of the coins of old Dubrovnik from the 14th to 19th centuries, original keys to the city gates, seals, crests, a copy of the Dubrovnik Code and the records of the Republic, items from the old pharmacy "Domus Christi" from the 15th century and more.