Split, a town on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, is known for its beaches and the fortresslike complex at its center, Diocletian’s Palace, erected by the Roman emperor in the 4th century. Once home to thousands, its sprawling remains include more than 200 buildings. Within its white stone walls and under its courtyards and galleries are shops, bars, cafes, cathedrals, hotels and several houses.
Diocletian’s Palace – Considered to be one of the most imposing Roman ruins, Diocletian’s palace is certainly the main attraction of the city of Split, Croatia. These ruins are some of the most valuable surviving buildings of the Roman era on the Adriatic coast.
The Cellars of Diocletian’s Palace – The cellars of Diocletian’s Palace are housed within the southern half of the palace. The floor plan showcases a mirror image of the emperor’s residence above as this substructure acted as supporting walls. The basement halls was the entranceway into the palace by sea via the Brass Gate and previously, when the sea reached the very walls of the palace, boats would be able to berth in front of the gate to drop off supplies or receive noble guests. As you pass through the basement towards the north you will reach the stairs that lead you directly up the Peristil Square.
Ivan Meštrović Gallery – Arguably Croatia’s greatest ever sculptor, the name of Ivan Meštrović is synonymous with Split, and his presence is all over the city to this day.
Meštrović bought land in Marjan in the 1920s, which he intended for a summer house, and a villa was built between 1931 and 1939, designed by the master himself. He lived there from the summer of 1932 to 1941 when he left for Zagreb. In 1952, he donated it, along with 132 pieces of his work and other memorabilia to the State, and the Ivan Meštrović Gallery was founded, its mission the “protection, collection, expert and scholarly treatment and presentation of the museum holdings and popularization of Ivan Meštrović’s works and name”.
Cathedral of Saint Domnius – This Cathedral of St. Domnius (Katedrala Sv. Duje or Sv. Dujam) is the most visited attraction in Split, particularly as the imposing bell-tower is considered the emblem of the city. The church was originally built as Diocletian’s mausoleum; quite an oxymoron as the emperor was a known prosecutor of Christians. It was converted into a cathedral in the mid 7th century and the central place originally meant for Diocletian’s sarcophagus was ritually destroyed.
Croatian National Theatre in Split – Looking for opera, drama, concerts or ballet in Split? Then head to the HNK, the Croatian National Theatre in Split.
Once the biggest theatre in southern Europe (on completion in 1893, its capacity of 1,000 people for a city population of just 16,000 indicates the level of culture in Split’s tradition), the theatre originally houses travelling troupes, and the first professional troupe arrived in 1920.
The Sinagogue, Jewish Community, and the Jewish Cemetery – Tucked into the western walls of Diocletian’s Palace in the narrow street of Židovski Prolaz (Jewish Passage) you will find the third oldest continuously used Sephardic Synagogue in the world stemming from the 16th century. Sephardic Jews came from the Iberian Peninsula (Span and Portugal) as refugees. It was once a church however; it was rented and later bought by the Jews who converted it into their place of worship. It is housed on the second of two attached medieval houses and does not resemble a synagogue from the outside.
Peristil – In Roman architecture, a peristyle is an open colonnade surrounding a court; hence the name of the central court in Diocletian’s Palace is called Peristil. It is located at the intersection of the two main streets, cardo and decumanus .The nucleus of historical sites is found here, with the prothyron, sphinxes, vestibule, various palaces, and the imposing Cathedral of St. Domnius, and Diocletian’s mausoleum as surrounding this popular square.
Pjaca – Narodni Trj (People’s Square), known as Pjaca (a Croatian interpretation of the Italian ‘Piazza’) by locals was once called San Lorenzo’s Square (Trg svetog Lovre). It is located just past the western walls of Diocletian’s palace at the exit of the Iron Gate. As the population grew, the palace became too small and Pjaca was the first area developed beyond the walls in the 14th century.
The Temple of Jupiter – The Temple of Jupiter is located just west of Peristil, at the end of a narrow passageway called Kraj Sveti Ivana accessible between the Skočibučić-Lukaris and Cipci Palace. Originally, there were three temples to the right of Peristil; Kibel, Venus, and Jupiter however, only the latter remains today. The Temple of Jupiter is a miniscule rectangular temple with a very characteristic vaulted ceiling featuring a myriad of stone blocks, each with a different central motif. Boarding the ceiling and walls is a very ornate frieze all around. The temple is elevated as below it hides the crypt, which is a typical character of a Roman temple. The doorway features very intricate moldings that tell a story in itself. It is considered to be one of the best-preserved Roman temples in the world.
Prokurative – Trg Republike (Republic Square) is a large open square located just west of Riva, past Marmontova. It is surrounded on three sides by an elaborate red neo-Renaissance structure known as Prokurative. Locals therefore call the square Prokurative and rarely by its real name. The southern side of the square is open, providing a breathtaking view of the harbor front.
Marmontova – Marmontova (Marmont’s Street) is today a popular pedestrian street leading north from Riva towards Trg Gaje Bulata, which is where the Croatian National Theatre is located. Other than housing glitzy shops, Marmontova bears historical significance too.
Marjan Forest park – Marjan Forest Park covers the westernmost tip of Split Peninsula. It is a green oasis, which has been cherished by the citizens of Split for generations and is considered the ‘lungs of the city.’ It covers a vast area, the size of New York’s Central Park and offers a myriad of activities and sites. There are countless paths what wend through the forests and along the coast, revealing a well-tendered landscape, jagged beaches, vista points, ancient chapels, and even a zoo.