This palace right in the heart of Split, was used by Roman Emperor Diocletian and is one of the best preserved monuments of Roman architecture in the world. In 1979, it was declared -- with the historic city of Split -- a UNESCO World Heritage site. The ruins of the Palace can also be found throughout the city.
A military fortress, imperial residence and fortified town, the palace covers over 31,000 square meters (334 square feet). Diocletian spared no expense in the building of the palace, importing marble from Italy and Greece, and columns and sphinxes from Egypt. Many of the buildings are made from local white limestone quarried on the nearby island of Brac. Each wall has a gate named after metals: the northern gate is the Golden Gate; the southern gate is the Bronze Gate; the eastern gate is the Silver Gate; and the western gate is the Iron Gate.
This Cathedral has two lives: its first life was as the Cathedral of St. Dominus, the mausoleum dedicated to Diocletian. Diocletian was known for his brutal persecution of Christians after a campaign to get rid of Christianity. Ironically, what Diocletian built to glorify his memory was used to remember his victims. His body was removed from the mausoleum in the 7th century, with no record of where his remains are now. Today, the cathedral is a popular meeting place because of its proximity to the Silver Gate at Diocletian's Palace (it leads to Hrjvojeva Street). The courtyard is the location for Split's Summer Festival in July and August.
Its second life is now as the Cathedral of St Duje, a shrine to St Dominus. St Duje was the patron saint of Split, who was a 3rd-century Bishop of Salona in Dalmatia.
Peristil Square is Split's main square, the former entry hall in Diocletian's Palace. It is derived from a Roman architectural term called the peristyle, an open colonnade surrounding a court.
The spacious central courtyard is flanked by marble columns topped with Corinthian capitals and richly ornamented cornices linked by arches. There are six columns on both the east and west sides, and four more at the south end, which mark the monumental entrance to the Vestibul. Most of the structure is made of white stone from the nearby island of Brač; however, the columns are made of Italian marble and siennite from Egypt. The Vestibul is a cavernous open dome above the ground floor passageway; a foyer that leads you into the emperor's residential quarters. The Vestibul provides great acoustics allowing klapa bands to perform traditional a capella songs there in the mornings.
A short walking distance from Diocletian's Palace, this hilly peninsula is a recreational park for both locals and visitors. A protected nature reserve since 1964, the park is dotted with pine trees and Mediterranean shrubs.
Some of Split's best beaches are at the foot of Marjan hill and are easily reachable by bicycle which you can rent at the entrance. To enter the natural preserve, just follow the steps from the Veli Varos neighborhood. Keep climbing and you'll reach the Telegrin belvedere -- on a clear day you can see as far as Vis Island. You'll get some of the most spectacular views of the island and the Adriatic Sea from the top of the hill. There are many other cultural spots on the hill, including Split's most interesting museums, such as the Mestrovic Gallery and the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments. Many churches are dotted on the site, including the Church of St George, situated on the western slopes, with the Oceanographic institute next door.
Verstopt aan de voet van de heuvel Marjan, iets ten westen van het centrum van Split, ligt het strand Bene. Dit is een rustig alternatief voor de drukke stad. Het is ook een schilderachtige plek met rotsachtige kust en pijnbomen. Het is alleen te voet te bereiken. Het is een populaire keuze voor gezinnen in de zomerperiode, mede dankzij het gecontroleerde zwemgebied.
Naast afkoelen in de zee is het strand Bene ook een beginpunt voor kajaktochten, terwijl het omliggende bospark Marjan tennisbanen, voetbalvelden en wandel- of fietsmogelijkheden heeft. Het strand zelf is ook goed uitgerust, met een terrasrestaurant, kleedkamers en douches, kinderspeelplaatsen en een waterbaan.
There are four different gates or access points to enter Split's historic core, all named after four different metals.
The best starting point is the Bronze Gate, which opens outward from the palace's southern area to Split's Riva (harbor-front promenade). Inside, it leads to the podrum, or basement, where support staff cooked meals for Diocletian and his guests. The cryptoporticus (gallery) that runs east-west from the Bronze Gate was an open promenade. The part of the podrum that extends from the Bronze Gate toward the steps to the Peristil above is a brick-lined marketplace filled with merchants and craftspeople selling souvenirs. The podrum connects to the Peristil, Split’s main square. The Silver Gate can be accessed from the eastern wall, where you’ll pass through the jumble of stalls of Pazar, the city's produce market. Be careful accessing this point at night, as it can be crowded.
A short cab ride from downtown Split, the Mestrovic Gallery is an art museum dedicated to the life and work of 20th-century sculptor, Ivan Meštrović, who has been compared to Rodin. Formerly Mestrovic’s house and atelier, the holdings now contain 192 sculptures, 583 drawings, 4 paintings, 291 architectural plans and two furniture sets. There are also 168 works of art owned by Meštrović’s heirs.
The house and garden hold some of the artist's best work, including a pair of huge walnut Adam and Eve figures and the powerful bronze Cyclops. Mestrovic's religious art comprises much of the gallery's permanent exhibits. You will discover the family archive found inside the house, which contains letters and personal documents of family members and friends, as well as builder Marin Marasovic’s archives (which include the building of The Most Holy Redeemer Church in Otavice and the erection of the Monument to Unknown Hero on Avala).
A few steps away from the Cathedral of St Dominus and St Duje -- at the end of the street Kraj Sveti Ivan -- is a temple dedicated to Jupiter, named after his father. Roman emperors often made themselves a god. Diocletian was Jovius, son of the top god, Jupiter. This god was highly worshipped during the Imperial era until the Roman Empire came under Christian rule. Emperor Diocletian believed he was a reincarnation of Jupiter and thus positioned this temple directly adjacent to his mausoleum, not St Dominus Cathedral.
When Diocletian's mausoleum became a cathedral, the temple was converted into a baptistery, housing a huge 12th-century baptismal font large enough to immerse someone (as was the tradition in those days). Jupiter is considered to be one of the best-preserved Roman temples in the world. The temple once had a porch supported by columns, but the one column you see dates from the 5th century.
The Cetina River flows through 63 miles (101 km) of southern Croatia and drops down 1,260 feet (385 m) as it rushes down into the Adriatic Sea near Split. Over the centuries rapids have formed on the upper half of the river, and it is today fast-becoming a popular white-water rafting and canyoning destination for adrenaline junkies from all over Europe.
Having its source somewhere under the mountains of Dinara and Gnjat, the Cetina wends its way through a spectacular limestone gorge, passing sites of archaeological importance far above in the high canyon, where prehistoric artifacts have been discovered along with Roman shields and medieval agricultural implements. Lower down, the Cetina flows through pastures coated in flowers in spring and the rich alluvial soil fertilizes the vineyards and crop fields bordering the river.