Split, Croatia

Before Diocletian became the first Roman emperor to voluntarily retire in 305 AD, he commissioned an elaborate ten-acre palace near his birthplace. It is now the 1,700 year old town of Split, Croatia. Walk through one of its four gates and into a living history museum.

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1 Symbolic Bell Tower Next to Saint Domnius Cathedral in Split, Croatia

This bell tower next to the Cathedral of Saint Domnius is the striking centerpiece of Diocletian’s Palace and the symbol of Split. It is visible from every direction outside of the city’s fortified walls. Like a beacon, it beckons first time visitors to pick up their pace to begin exploring this historical jewel of Croatia. Some of what you are about to see dates back to the start of the 4th century.

Peristil ul. 2, 21000, Split, Croatia
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2 Promenade along Small Boat Harbor in Split, Croatia

Parallel to Riva is a pedestrian and cyclist promenade hugging the shoreline of the Adriatic Sea and the rectangular-shaped small boat harbor. Beneath the palm trees are benches to idle away the hours with friends. There is also plenty of seating along the seawall. So when you need a break from sightseeing, claim your spot along this waterfront to enjoy the scenery and the cool breezes.

Trg Franje Tuđmana, 21000, Split, Croatia
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3 Bell Tower Close Up Next to Cathedral of Saint Domnius in Split, Croatia

The bell tower of Split deserves close inspection. Construction of this Romanesque masterpiece began during the 13th century and required 300 years of dedicated craftsmanship to complete. Although it was largely rebuilt from 1890 through 1906, it retains much of its original elegance. Notice and appreciate the blend of classic architectural elements including Corinthian columns and a scallop motif below the delicately carved cornice. Exquisite!

Peristil ul. 2, 21000, Split, Croatia
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4 3,500 Year Old Egyptian Sphinx in Split, Croatia

This sphinx is often overlooked by most tourists because it is positioned next to the Cathedral of Saint Domnius and the Peristyle of Diocletian’s Palace. But don’t miss it. This treasure from Luxor, Egypt is one of three sphinxes in Split from the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III. He ruled Egypt for almost 54 years. When he died in 1425 BC, he was buried in the Valley of the Kings.

Peristil ul. 3, 21000, Split, Croatia
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5 Column Capital at Peristyle in Split, Croatia

The epicenter of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s 3.3 million square foot palace is the Peristyle. It is at the crossroads of the two main roads dividing the town into quarters. Over 1,700 years ago, this rectangular courtyard was defined by a colonnade with 24 granite columns. Many of them still stand. This is a close up of one of the capitals at the top of the Corinthian columns.

21000, Peristil ul. 2, 21000, Split, Croatia
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6 Lvxor Kavana Café in Split, Croatia

This elegant façade is part of the colonnade along the west side of the Peristyle Square and the Lvxor Kavana Café. The name is derived from the Egyptian town of Luxor where the sphinx directly across from the restaurant was taken by Emperor Diocletian in 305 AD. Inside is an ancient loggia and part of the Temple of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Over the centuries, this building was also a palace for several of Split’s elite families including Grisogono and Cipci.

Ul. Kraj Svetog Ivana 11, 21000, Split, Croatia
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7 High Altar Inside the Cathedral of Saint Domnius in Split, Croatia

The Katedrala Svetog Duje’s high altar is spectacular. Built in 1767 by Giovanni Morlaiter, it is crowned by a semi-dome with paintings by Matej Pončun. On either side are two large gilded angels suspending a regulatory. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Domnius. He was the Bishop of Salona when he was beheaded at the command of Diocletian in 304 AD. Ironically, the relics of Split’s patron saint are now in the mausoleum built in 305 AD for the Roman emperor who ordered his death. Conversely, Diocletian’s remains have disappeared.

Ul. Kraj Svetog Duje 5, 21000, Split, Croatia
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8 Arnir Sarcophagus Inside Cathedral of Saint Domnius in Split, Croatia

The remains of Saint Domnius were once kept in this early 15th century altar at Split’s cathedral. This ornately carved sarcophagus by Bonino da Milano now contains the body of Saint Arnir. He was Split’s bishop when he was martyred in 1180. Nearby are two other things to appreciate in what some historians call the world’s oldest cathedral. The first are the two huge wooden front doors. They were carved during the 13th century by Andrija Buvina. Then take the steps leading to the cathedral’s treasury where you will see religious artifacts, some dating back to the 6th century.

Ul. Kraj Svetog Duje 5, 21000, Split, Croatia
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9 Vestibule within Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia

Perhaps Roman Emperor Diocletian wanted to emulate the Pantheon’s oculus when he had his palace design during the late 3rd century. This dome-shaped vestibule was the entry to his private living chambers. The light from the sun illuminates the stone walls as if it were a sundial.

Ul. Iza Vestibula 4, 21000, Split, Croatia
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10 Cappella Singers Performing Inside The Vestibule in Split, Croatia

These men are members of a singing association named Klapa Šufit. “Klapa” means “a group of friends.” Wearing traditional outfits accented with a red sash, they perform Dalmatian folk music called capella. The voices of this ensemble blend together perfectly and are enhanced by the stone walls of the Vestibule at Diocletian’s Palace.

Ul. Iza Vestibula 4, 21000, Split, Croatia
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11 Full Length View of Bell Tower Next to Saint Domnius Cathedral in Split, Croatia

This full length view of Split’s bell tower lets you appreciate the stunning columns supporting the stone façade. It majestically stands almost 200 feet. Inside you can climb the 183 winding steps to the top. Once you catch your breath, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking, 360° view of the city and the Adriatic Sea.

Peristil ul. 2, 21000, Split, Croatia
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12 Roman Emperor Surrounded by Soldiers Near Vestibule in Split, Croatia

From 32 BC until 480 AD, Salona was the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. It was also the birthplace of Roman Emperor Diocletian. This is why he built his retirement palace nearby in Spalatum which is today’s Split. If during your visit you hear lots of trumpets and fanfare near the Peristyle, then rush to see the emperor’s greeting. He emerges from his private quarters at the Vestibule and onto an elevated platform called the Protyron. He and the empress are surrounded by soldiers wearing centurion helmets, the traditional military headgear from 100 BC until 300 AD. The performance is brief but entertaining.

Peristil ul. 3, 21000, Split, Croatia
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Diocletian’s Palace Mural in Split, Croatia

This mural shows what Emperor Diocletain’s retirement home looked like when it was built in the 4th century on ten acres in Spalato, now called Split. Surprising, many of the original walls surrounding the opulent Roman palace are still standing. The figure wearing the mitre is Saint Domnius. He was the Bishop of Salona until he was martyred by the emperor in 304 AD. In his left hand is the city of Split.

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13 Baptismal Font inside Temple of Jupiter in Split, Croatia

The 1,700 year old Temple of Jupiter was converted into a baptistery in the 7th century. About 500 years later, a font was placed inside. It was large enough for total body immersion during the baptismal ceremony. This 12th century carving graces its front. Some historians believe the king on his throne represents Peter Krešimir IV the Great who rule Croatia from 1059 until 1075. Others believe it is successor, Demetrius Zvonimir. He was king until 1089.

21000, Ul. Kraj Svetog Ivana 2, 21000, Split, Croatia
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14 Temple of Jupiter’s Ceiling in Split, Croatia

When Roman Emperor Diocletian built his elaborate palace at the turn of the third century, he also commissioned the Temple of Jupiter. Jupiterov Hram honored the mythological Roman god of gods who Diocletian also claimed was his father. During the 7th century, the temple became a Christian baptistery. It is called Saint John’s Baptistery in tribute to an 8th century archbishop who is entombed under this elaborate ceiling of carved stone.

21000, Ul. Kraj Svetog Ivana 2, 21000, Split, Croatia
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15 City Museum Courtyard in Split, Croatia

Inside the City Museum of Split are three floors of artifacts, paintings, sculptures and exhibits tracing some of the glorious history of Split and nearby Salona dating back to the 12th century. But before you walk inside to explore this collection at Musea Grada Splita, you are impressed with the courtyard of the Papalić Palace. This Late Gothic and Renaissance architecture by Juraj Dalmatinac served as the mansion for Dmine Papalić and his family during the 14th century. The museum was established in 1946.

Papalićeva ul. 1, 21000, Split, Croatia
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16 St. Anthony Statue on Ciprianis Palace in Split, Croatia

This is a statue of St. Anthony the Hermit. He was an Italian monk who lived from 468 until 520. It stands in a niche flanked by columns on the facade of Palača Ciprianis-Benedetti. The palace was built for the nobleman Cipriano de Ciprianis in 1394. It was then owned by the Benedetti Family starting in 1860.

Ul. Marka Marulića 6, 21000, Split, Croatia
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Little Boy Watching From Balcony in Split, Croatia

The Old Town of Split feels like a living history museum suspended in the 4th century. But the walls of the former Diocletian’s Palace are home to a few thousand people. I suspect most of the population serves the active tourism industry: over 2.5 million people a year visit the city. Meanwhile, Split’s younger generation entertains themselves by watching people of every nationality pass below their balconies.

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17 Geremia Palace in Split, Croatia

The Palaća Dragišić (de Caris) was a mansion for Juraj Dragišić in the middle of the 17th century. This writer who was also known as George de Caris died in 1658. The building’s courtyard contains some of his collection of ancient monuments. A century later it became the home of the Geremia family. This Baroque building was extensively renovated during the 19th century. It now appears to be filled with seasonal rental apartments.

Čirila i Metoda br. 2, Split 21000, 21000, Croatia
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18 Venetian Tower in Split, Croatia

Split was under the rule of the Republic of Venice from 1420 until 1797. In 1435, the Venetians built a castle near the shoreline outside of the southwestern wall of Diocletian’s Palace. This octagonal tower is all that remains. It is a formidable reminder of the strength of the Venetians from over 200 years ago. Mletačka Kula is located in Braće Radić Square, also called Fruit Square.

Trg Braće Radić 6, 21000, Split, Croatia
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19 Riva Seaside Promenade in Split, Croatia

Along the southern wall of Diocletian’s Palace is a lovely, tree-lined promenade. After being renovated for $12 million dollars, Riva has plenty to offer including outdoor restaurants, cafes and bars. It is the social and entertainment section of Split. Best of all are the views of the Adriatic Sea. The red building in the background is the Bajamonti-Dešković Palace. Built in 1856, it now houses vacation rentals for travelers.

Obala Hrvatskog narodnog preporoda 6, 21000, Split, Croatia
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20 British Consulate in Split, Croatia

Only half a dozen countries have an embassy or consulate in Croatia. The United Kingdom has three offices to serve the approximate 400,000 Briton tourists who annually visit the Dalmatia Region. This is the British Consulate in Split. It is located along the Riva promenade.

Obala Hrvatskog narodnog preporoda 10, 21000, Split, Croatia
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21 Church of Saint Francis in Split, Croatia

This magnificent clock and bell tower crown the façade of the Church of Saint Francis. It was built by the Franciscans during the 13th century at the former location of a 5th century church. Inside is even more impressive. There is a courtyard surrounded by elegant arcades. You will also see at Sv. Frane some of the burial sites of Spilt’s famous citizens including the sarcophagus of Marko Marulić. During his lifetime (1450-1524), this famous author was hailed as the father of the Croatian Renaissance.

Trg Franje Tuđmana 1, 21000, Split, Croatia
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22 Prokurative at Republic Square in Split, Croatia

This red, Neo-Renaissance building with a long arcade is one of three forming Republic Square. Collectively, they resemble a Venetian piazza and are called Prokurative. The fourth or southern side has an open view of the waterfront. The Trg Republike was commissioned by the town’s visionary major, Antonio Bajamonti. He was in office for almost twenty years from 1860 until 1880. This square is a popular venue for outdoor concerts and festivals.

Ul. bana Josipa Jelačića 2, 21000, Split, Croatia
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23 Shops Along Marmontova Street in Split, Croatia

If your idea of a perfect vacation day is shopping, then stroll along the marble-paved promenade named Marmontova Street. Here you will find stores carrying designer and high-end brands. Towards the end of the street is the Ribarnica or local fish market. Arrive early to see the fresh catch of the day still flopping around on the silver display tables.

Marmontova ul. 1II, 21000, Split, Croatia
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24 Church of Our Lady Bell Tower at Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia

Next to the Iron Gate, which is also called Porta Ferrea, is this unique clock with 24 Roman numerals. The Tower Clock was added next to Crkva Gospa od Zvonik or the Church of Our Lady of the Bell Tower during the 11th century. It is best seen from Pjaca Square along the western outside wall of Diocletian’s Palace. The chapel was founded in the 6th century.

Ul. Ispod ure 1, 21000, Split, Croatia
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25 Old City Hall in Split, Croatia

Split’s first town hall was erected during the mid-15th century. In 1906, this Gothic-style building with a touch of Venetian design opened as Split’s City Hall. Sometimes referred to as the Communal Palace, it is now a museum called Stara Gradska Vijećnica. They have rotating exhibits of contemporary artists and photographers. It is located near the Iron Gate in Narodni Trg which translates into People’s Square. The locals call it Pjaca.

Narodni trg, 21000, Split, Croatia
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26 Piazza Heritage Hotel in Split, Croatia

The Piazza Heritage is a boutique hotel with only seven suites housed in the Nakic Palace. It is named after its architect Spiro Nakic who gave it this beautiful Art Nouveau design at the turn of the 20th century. The word “piazza” was added to its name to reflect its location along the western edge of Pjaca. “Piazza” in Italian means square and the Croatian equivalent is “trg.” This main public square was called St. Lawrence’s when it was constructed during the 13th century. Today it hosts shops and restaurants tucked inside historic buildings. The hotel also has a great view of the Iron Gate (Potra Ferrea) into Diocletian’s Palace.

Ul. Kraj Svete Marije 1, 21000, Split, Croatia
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27 Golden Gate of Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia

The Golden Gate was the primary portal into Diocletian’s Palace when the retired Roman Emperor lived here in the early 4th century. Notice the empty niches on the façade of the Porta Aurea. These once housed grand statues including one of Emperor Diocletian. This is the outer gate. It leads to a 30 by 30 foot courtyard where there is a second gate into the northern section of Old Town.

Dioklecijanova ul. 10, 21000, Split, Croatia
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28 Bell Tower of St. Arnir in Split, Croatia

A Benedictine monastery was built outside of the northern walls of Split in 1069. It was a Roman Catholic convent. The nunnery was later dedicated to St. Arnir. He was an Archbishop of Split before being stoned to death in 1180. The complex suffered a devastating fire in 1888 and was completely demolished in 1945 except for this 18th century bell tower and a small chapel.

Ul. kralja Tomislava 15, 21000, Split, Croatia
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29 Gregory of Nin Sculpture in Split, Croatia

This huge bronze statue in Giardin Park by Ivan Meštrović is of Grgur Ninski. It is considered good luck to rub his toes. Gregory of Nin was very radical while the Bishop of Nin from 900 until 929. He instructed the churches in his diocese to celebrate the mass in the Croatian Glagolic language and not in Latin. He lost his position as a result. In 1570, the Dalmatic region of Croatia was allowed to celebrate the mass in their native tongue. Finally, in 1962 during the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church adopted the same policy and the Latin Mass changed forever. In the background is the St. Arnir campanile.

Ul. kralja Tomislava 12, 21000, Split, Croatia
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30 Diocletian’s Palace Silver Gate in Split, Croatia

The Silver Gate is the eastern entrance to the Diocletian’s Palace or Old Town of Slit. Porta Argentea is located at the intersection of Hrvojeva and Krešimirova Streets next to the Green Market. Residents once believed this gate was protected by Saint Apollinaris. After Saint Peter made him a bishop in Ravenna, the capital city of the Western Roman Empire, he was martyred in 79 AD.

Poljana kraljice Jelene 5, 21000, Split, Croatia
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31 Women Shopping at Green Market in Split, Croatia

Along the eastern wall of Diocletian’s Palace is the Green Market. This outdoor marketplace, called Pzar in Croatian, is filled with residents who inspect, squeeze and purchase fresh fruit and vegetables displayed in crates by local merchants. The ambiance is alive with bustling, hustling and bargaining.

Ul. Stari pazar, 21000, Split, Croatia
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32 Old Window Along Eastern Wall in Split, Croatia

When Diocletian’s Palace was built at the turn of the 4th century, there were no windows on the first floor of the fortified walls which reach a height of 70 feet. This was for protective reasons but also because the Adriatic Sea flowed directly along the southern wall. In addition, much of the palace’s first level was flooded so the emperor could take his boat directly from his residence. Today people live within the walls of the original palace.

Ul. Hrvoja Vukčića Hrvatinića 3, 21000, Split, Croatia
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33 Crowd Swimming and Sunning at Bacvice Beach in Split, Croatia

During the summer months, Split’s average temperature is well into the 80°s Fahrenheit. That is when the locals cool off at nearby Bacvice Beach. This crescent-shaped cove is nearly 2,000 feet long and 590 of them are covered with sand. The shallow water is ideal for families with kids.

Šetalište Petra Preradovića 5, 21000, Split, Croatia
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