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Split, Croatia

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Did You Know … ?

  • The walls of Diocletian’s Palace encircled about 7.4 acres.
  • The nearby Roman town Salona was named for the area’s salt works, sal meaning salt in Latin.
  • The grounds of Diocletian’s Palace are home to about 3,000 of Split’s residents.
  • Diocletian’s mausoleum became part of St. Doimus church, named for a man Diocletian martyred.
  • The Dalmatian dog gets its name from Dalmatia, but the breed’s origins are obscure.

 

From palace to city

The Croatian city of Split got its start as a palace. The Roman Emperor Diocletian selected this spot on the Adriatic Sea for his palatial retirement digs and constructed a large walled compound that included his own mausoleum. He abdicated in 305 and repaired to his retreat.

Today, Split is best known for this palace; its remains — which are extensive — are the only reason many tourists put this city on their itineraries. Visitors see more than surviving Roman era architecture, however; they see how the palace functions as part of a living city. Early on, the mausoleum was incorporated into a church, and a church it remains. In addition, the palace grounds accommodate a few thousand Split residents, plus restaurants and shops.

Residents of nearby Salona, in need of a safe haven in the seventh century, were the first to treat the palace as a town. The town outgrew the palace walls in the Middle Ages, eventually creating a larger area of historical interest with the addition of churches, monasteries, villas and public buildings. The resulting historic complex, at the center of today’s considerably larger Split, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Split has name recognition, but it is part of the larger story of the area’s development. It sits near the ruins of the Roman Salona and is one of several regional sites to get UNESCO’s attention. The historic city of Trogir and St. James Cathedral in Sibenik also appear on the UNESCO list. The walled island town of Korcula is a proposed addition.

Furthermore, the destination appeals because the cities and geography are beautiful and the climate sunny and mild. Split and its neighbors face the Adriatic from the Dalmatian Coast, one of the world’s most stunning coastlines — stunning because of the dramatic mountains that hover near the shore and the islands of the Split archipelago.

The result is candy for the active vacationer. The mountains and their rivers invite visitors to cycle, climb, hike or hop on a raft, and the seaside beckons with options that include sailing, scuba diving and, for less-demanding action, a good swim.

 

Things to do for Venturers

  • Go rafting or canoeing on the Cetina River.
  • Overnight in a lighthouse, at the Struga lighthouse on the island of Lastovo, 55 nautical miles from Split. The lighthouse is 230 feet above sea level, on the edge of a steep cliff.
  • Or, camp out at Stobrec, a camp at the mouth of the Zrnovica River, only three miles from Diocletian’s Palace.
  • Take a ferry to at least one of the islands near Split, such as Brac or Hvar, and check out the attractions — and cafes.
  • Plan a July visit in order to attend the Split Festival, a pop music event.
  • Sail in the waters around Split and its nearby islands. Sea kayaking, scuba diving and windsurfing are also options.

 

Things to do for Centrics

  • Tour the ruins of nearby Salona, a Roman town that existed before Split. The Roman town is surrounded by the modern Solin.
  • Play tennis in Split or in Solin.
  • Take a guided tour of the labyrinthine basement below Diocletian’s Palace.
  • Make UNESCO sites the theme of your sightseeing, focusing on the historic city of Trogir and the Cathedral of St. James in Sibenik, as well as, of course, the historical heart of Split including Diocletian’s Palace.
  • Ride or walk up the Marjan hill for great views of the city and the Adriatic. Go biking on the hill, too.
  • Head to the Krka River National Park, noted for its waterfalls. Admire the scenery, and take advantage of the park’s hiking trails.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Make a day trip to Medugorje, the religious shrine in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Go to the beach
  • Choose a cruise that includes Split on the itinerary.
  • Feast on local seafood or lamb specialties in one of the cellars found within the confines of Diocletian’s Palace.
  • Plan to attend a ballet or opera, or hear some jazz, at the Split Summer Festival.
  • See ancient artifacts in Split’s Archaeological Museum, then shop for modern arts and crafts in the historical sections of town.

 

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Croatian National Tourist Board at http://croatia.hr/en-GB/Homepage