Built in the fourth century as a retirement complex for the Roman Emperor Diocletian, this vast, fortress-like compound still dominates Split Old Town. After the palace was abandoned in the sixth century, locals flooded into it. Now, the 220 Roman-era buildings within the palace boundaries house homes, shops, bars, and other businesses.
The magnificent ruins of Diocletian’s Palace are not confined to a traditional archaeological site, but rather are part of the living, breathing heart of Croatia’s second-largest city. They can be seen during guided biking, Segway, and walking tours of Split as well as during food and wine tours. The ruins also feature on Game of Thrones location tours, with the HBO hit series having filmed scenes here. Organized day tours to Split from Dubrovnik, Zadar, Makarska, and Trogir typically include guided tours of Diocletian’s Palace.
Things to Know Before You Go
- One of the most magnificent Roman ruins in existence, Diocletian’s Palace is a must for ancient history aficionados.
- Bring a sun hat, sunglasses, water, and sunscreen if exploring during the summer months as it can be hot and humid.
- Some parts of the old town, including the palace’s underground ruins and the Riva seafront promenade, which is bordered by the palace’s southern facade, are wheelchair accessible, though large parts are not.
How to Get There
Diocletian’s Palace faces out to the harbor in Split Old Town. The palace can be accessed on foot via the Bronze Gate (sometimes called the Brass Gate) at the eastern end of the Riva, 300 feet (100 meters) from the ferry terminal.
When to Get There
Diocletian’s Palace is enchanting at any time of the year, though May, June, and September strike an appealing balance, promising sunny weather but fewer crowds. Summer is prime visitor season, and tourist numbers and temperatures both peak in July and August. During these months, come first thing in the morning to avoid the afternoon rush.
Navigating Diocletian’s Palace
Finding your way around the alleyways, hidden courtyards, and twisting and turning streets can be difficult for first-timers. Use the gates to help get your bearings: Golden Gate is located in the north wall, Bronze Gate (or Brass Gate) in the south, Silver Gate to the east, and Iron Gate to the west. Kresimirova Street, Split’s Decumanus Maximus, runs directly between the east and west gates, dividing the palace in two: To the south was the emperor’s imperial residence, while the northern section housed soldiers and servants.