THE BEST VIEWS FROM THE PALACE OF DIOCLETIAN
We suggest you to visit a precious architectural jewel from where to admire the old part of the city, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1979. This time, to spot the city of Split from above, we´ll have to climb the bell tower near the Cathedral of St. Domnius (Cathedral of Saint Duje in Croatian), the old mausoleum of emperor Diocletian.
The bell tower of the cathedral, built in white stone, rises 57 meters and dates back to the 13th century, so it was built in a Romanesque style although it was modified in later centuries.
The tower of the Cathedral is one of the symbols of the city of Split, and one of the busiest monuments. To make this getaway to the heights, we must get up early to be there first thing in the morning.
It is well worth paying the ticket to visit the cathedral, as with the same entrance one can visit the bell tower. However, bear in mind that the climb is up some very narrow stairs. Therefore, it is not recommended for children, people with mobility problems or vertigo, as the ascent is a little complicated compared to other towers. But for those who dare to do it, it will no doubt be an unforgettable experience as the views of the city worthy of the best postcards. From upstairs it is possible to contemplate the labyrinthine network of streets and get an idea of the dimension of the Diocletian Palace and its limits. It is also possible to enjoy unbeatable views of a good part of the city, the Adriatic Sea, and the mountains surrounding this incomparable jewel that will captivate us from the first minute because of its beauty, history, and magic.
Address: Tower of the Cathedral, Saint Domnius Bell Tower (Zvonik Svetog Duje), Peristil ul. 2, Split
FROM THE ADRIATIC SEA TO YOUR TABLE!
Split is the capital of the region of Dalmatia, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Europe for the last twenty years. Dalmatia is a very rich and varied region with coastal cities framed in an incomparable backdrop between the mountains and the Adriatic Sea. This nature makes them have a very rich and healthy Mediterranean diet, as they have the possibility of getting the best fish, and being near the mountain, they also have different meats from local producers.
Normally, traditional restaurants, more rustic and traditional are called "konobas" and are associated with a typical and cheap tavern, but nowadays, being traditional does not mean being cheap. Check the price of the menus and the food first, because in the centre there are deluxe konobas and more rustic and economic konobas. In almost any of them, the menus are very similar. Being near Italy, the influence is undeniable, so in most of them it is possible to find pizzas, pastas, and all kinds of risottos in most of them.
In Split fish dishes are ideal. Whatever your taste is, it will be delightful, as it comes directly from the Adriatic Sea to the table. One can choose from seafood, lobster, sea bass, sardines, mackerel, or anchovies as they are cooked to perfection and the restaurants usually shop in the traditional fish market (Ribarnica - Peškarija) located in Hrvatska, Obrod ulica 5, near the famous Marmontova commercial street.
This time we invite you to taste "Brujet, Brodet o Brodetto", a delicious fish stew cooked fresh fish from the Adriatic Sea. Following the criterion of the Dalmatian cook or depending on the fish offered at the market, the fish stew taste might vary. People say this soup was created when the fishermen arrived at the coast and changed their products with the farmers.
Should you wish to travel to Split from your own kitchen, you can try making this dish in your house. Any kind of fish is valid. First of all, clean all the different fish and cut them in slices, or in case they are small, you can leave them whole. After this, place chopped vegetables in a pot (onion, carrot, bay leaves, and parsley) and gently fry them. Next, add squid for example with white wine or prosecco, and when it is evaporated, add water for the broth, tomato sauce (tomato, garlic, paprika, and salt) and let it boil for a little bit more. Finally, add the fish pieces and the seafood. Once 15 minutes have passed, practically all will be cooked and...your fish stew will be ready to be eaten! If you taste this delicious dish in Split, probably the fish stew will be accompanied by polenta (cornflour), a kind of corn tortilla, originally from Italy, that is called polento or pura in the Adriatic area.
For those who choose to accompany this delicacy with a good white wine, we recommend you try Pošip.
Enjoy your meal! Dobar tek!
SPLIT´S BUSIEST STREET
Marmintova pedestrian street is outside the old Diocletian´s Palace walls, making it part of what would be the continuation of Split´s old town. It is a very centric and crowded street, maybe one of the streets with the greatest movement of people at any time of the day.
The street takes its name from Marshal Marmont, conqueror during Napoleon´s time, who had a huge influence on the layout of the streets of the coastal cities of Dalmatia.
If we access from the Riva (or promenade), we find some restaurants, then a pharmacy, accessory and clothes shops. Along Marmontova there are many ice cream shops and small stalls selling pieces of pizza if you feel like taking a snack while you walk by the street.
Further ahead, on the right, one can see the fish market or Ribarica, where it is worth having a look to pry which fish is taken by the fishermen from the Adriatic sea every day. One of the things that draws the attention of the tourists is that unlike other markets or fish markets, in the market of Split there are no flies! The explanation is that not far from here some old hot springs are giving off a sulfur odor, and flies don´t like it, so you will not see them.
Following our walk along this pedestrian street, we will continue to see all kinds of clothing shops with very different qualities, prices and models, shoe shops, sports shops, opticians... everything one may desire, can be found in this street.
One can also go deeper in the small alleys crossing the main street as some of them have small shops offering more original clothes at very good prices.
At the end of the street, visitors will find some local artisan stalls selling paintings, leather objects, and necklaces, where we can find original souvenirs to take back home.
Address: Marmontova ulica, 21000, Split.
THE HEART OF SPLIT: THE PERYSTILE
Peristyle means "surrounded by columns", and for Romans and Greeks, the peristyle was a space existing in the houses surrounded by columns, a great interior courtyard with columns where they spent part of their lives. In Split´s peristyle´s case, it is the heart of the Palace of Diocletian, but today it is also a meeting point, a place where people stop by the little steps to have a coffee and where thousands of tourists converge to ask for information at the tourist office, to exchange their money for the local kunas at the bank or to access the bell tower or the Cathedral of Saint Domnius (Doje), one of the smallest and oldest of the world.
The Peristyle is the central part of the Palace where the ancient cardo and decumanus met. Nowadays, those main streets would be Dioclecijaniva and Kresimirova respectively. One is very much surprised to find a monumental courtyard, formerly one of the entrances to the residences of Emperor Diocletian, being one of the more shocking monumental places in all of Split. Whichever way we look at it, it is a place that leaves us open-mouthed. If one had the opportunity to see it without people, one would probably think that they had travelled back in time to the 4th century a.D., only missing Emperor Diocletian himself incredulously watching how his old mausoleum had been reconstructed and transformed in a cathedral... he would probably be thinking: “But me being one of the bloodiest emperors in the persecution of Christians, how could they have done this to my mausoleum?”
In the Peristyle, we find the Cathedral as the main monument, and there is also the old temple dedicated to the Roman god Jupiter which was transformed into the Baptistery of the Cathedral during the 6th century. As with everything else, the following occupants of the palace kept adapting the spaces to their needs, and here too they did not hesitate, as the place of worship was the most important space for them.
If one is a good observer, try admiring the multiple treasures hidden in this square, as the lions placed at the entrance of the bell tower or the Egyptian sphinx dating back to the 15th century b.C. No doubt, the Peristyle seems a magic place and different from all the others, and this is why we think one of the pictures marking your trip must be taken here, a postcard remembering Split.
Would you be able to take a picture of all the monuments we have named? Enjoy this wonder!
Address: Trg Peristil, Split.
BASEMENTS OF THE PALACE OF DIOCLETIAN
During your visit to Split you will learn a lot about history and you will discover that in any corner of the city you can appreciate almost all the existing architectural styles. This city´s old town is laid over where the palace of Emperor Diocletian was at the beginning of the 4th century a.D. therefore, walking through this city is like walking in an archaeological site that is still inhabited as its people have adapted themselves to the different spaces, changing them to their many needs, mainly housing, as people still live in the interior of what once was the emperor´s palace. Only by getting to know this city, one can get to know part of the history of the Roman Empire, and of course Croatia.
In this section we want you to know the rooms of the basement of the ancient imperial palace. At the time they were built, the function of these spaces was to raise the emperor´s residence as the palace was exactly at the Adriatic seashore. Being constructed in this way, they were the copy of the spaces dedicated to the emperor in the upper part, which provides us with a lot of information about how the original rooms exclusively dedicated to the emperor were, as nothing was built on the inferior part afterward. It is known that in Roman times they were also used as a warehouse area and in the Middle Ages as departments for nobles and also as oil press workshops. Today these rooms are empty. Curiously, they were used as dumps at the time other inhabitants of the palace built their dwellings during the medieval period, so everything was completely covered and inaccessible for many centuries.
In 1956 they started to be cleaned and walls, vaults, and spaces from the Roman period started to be discovered.
The visit to the basements offers an idea about how the chambers of Emperor Diocletian would have been around 305 a.D. A visit allows one to know these vaulted spaces and the huge blocks of ashlar masonry which are the foundations to all the structures that one can see in the upper part. It is impressive! On some occasions, these various spaces are used to do thematic exhibitions of photography, and even concerts are celebrated due to the magnificent acoustics because of their vaults and domes. It is a fascinating place! These basements is accessible from the Gate Aenea- brass, entering from Riva or by the Peristyle’s stairs.
Address: Ulica Iza Vestibula, 21000, Split.
LET´S PUT DOWN THE MAP, LET´S WALK AND LOOK UP
To finish discovering Split, why don´t you dare to put down the map and let yourself be taken by its alleys? Split is a place full of surprises and the best way to get to know it is to walk around its cobbled streets and let oneself go.
We encourage you to be very attentive, to be very observant in every step you take as you are familiarizing yourself with the monuments that we have named previously. Once you have been orientated yourself knowing spaces (and keywords) of the city, you already can be more confident and orientated with this apparently chaotic space and be brave enough to let yourself go and discover your own Split. For sure there are a thousand details to amaze you! Whether by the mixture of architectonic styles, the hanging clothes at the centre of a building, the old-fashioned light wiring, the hidden local artisan shops...It sure is worth it.
Before this, let´s do a review and asure what we have already learned in our walk to the main monuments and icons of the palace of Diocletian.
Let´s remember clue words as "Riva", the promenade full of cafeterias and restaurants. Many of the main streets that we have already mentioned intersect there, as Marmontova street, which is the main commercial axis of Split, being outside the palace´s limits. Also very important is the street Ulica Vestibul connecting the Brass Gate (Mjedena Vrata, that is the one being in the promenade) with the Peristyle. Across this small roofed street, we will pass by the entrance to the basements and the handicraft´s stalls, and so, going up some small stairs, we arrive at the famous Peristyle where the Cathedral of Saint Duje is found with its 57 meters high bell tower that we can climb, the temple of Jupiter (Baptistery with the sculpture of Saint John Baptist sculpted by Ivan Mestrovic), as well as the tourist office.
Remember that from the Peristyle one can arrive at the Golden Gate (Zlatna Vrata) following Dioklecijanova street to find the sculpture of Ivan Mestrovic, almost four meters high. If on the contrary, from the bell tower we take the street to the right "Poljana Kraljuce Jelene", we will arrive at the Gate of Silver (Srebrna Vrata) getting out of the Palace grounds to a space where sometimes the local clothes market is held, taking us again to the promenade. Another option would be to take the way to the left from the tower of the Cathedral, we will go back to the Gate of Iron (Željezna Vrata) through small alleys, and we will be leaving the Palace grounds towards the other historic centre of Split where the Narodni Trg square is, and further down, the square Trg Brace Radic where the statue of the writer Marko Marulic is, created also by the brilliant Ivan Mestrovic. And again, a little further down we will be at the beginning of our tour, in the Riva or promenade.
Have you been able to orientate yourself? "Get lost for a moment" and let yourself be taken by the Diocletian spirit.
DIOCLETIAN AND HIS MAUSOLEUM OR THE CATHEDRAL OF SAINT DUJE
Curiously, the origin of the current cathedral was the resting place of the mausoleum of Emperor Diocletian. Let us know a little bit more about this emperor as he is the soul of the city! Diocletian was born in the year 244 a.D. and he died in 311 a.D., so he lived 67 years. If we think about it, 67 years was already a very advanced age at that time, which gives us an idea of the strength of this person. Diocletian was emperor between 284 a.D. and 305 a.D. when he abdicated, becoming the first Roman emperor to leave the charge in voluntarily. Diocletian was famous for his military campaigns, for his tax reforms where he created a tax on land and animals and he was also characterized by being a bloodthirsty emperor, harshly prosecuting Christians, especially during the last years of his life. Despite this, twenty years later with Constantine the Great, Christianity became the dominant religion.
Once know a little more about this famous figure, we may go deeper into the history of the Cathedral which originally was the mausoleum of Diocletian. At the centre of the cathedral was placed the sarcophagus of Diocletian, which later disappeared. Maybe the old palace´s new inhabitants being Christians heard about the stories of this bloody emperor and decided to destroy his sarcophagus? It is equally curious that they decided to place their most important religious temple at the location where the emperor had his resting place.
The present form of the cathedral is the original, having preserved practically in its totality an octagonal form surrounded by 24 columns. The passage of time mixed in this temple the pagan Roman Culture of the first centuries a.D. with the medieval and modern religious culture.
The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Domnius ( Saint Duje), bishop and martyr of the nearby town of Salona from where the first settlers came after the Romans abandoned the palace. It is not by chance that the town of Salona was the town where Emperor Diocletian was born. One of the oldest things in the cathedral is the carved wooden gates of the entrance to this small cathedral. They were created in the 13th century by the local artist Andrija Buvina, and they were surprisingly created before the very famous Gates of Paradise by Raphael for the Baptistery of Florence. The 14 pictures are real jewels and represent different scenes from the Gospels.
With these curiosities of the history, we already have the necessary resources to admire the way this special temple deserves, which history starts after Diocletian´s death, continuing till our days, the building has more than 1,700 years of history. Incredible, is it not?
Address: Cathedral of Saint Domnius ( St Duje) Peristyl ul. 2, Split.
DISCOVERING IVAN MESTROVIC
Ivan Mestrovic is one of the greatest artists of Croatia. Mestrovic was born in 1883 in inner Dalmatia. When he was young, he left as an apprentice of master Pavle Bilinic to the city of Split, the master educated him and showed him the way forward. After this, Mestrovic went to study at the Arts Academy of Vienna where he finished his training. This artist has been compared with great sculptors in history; but in this section, we simply want to introduce him to you and awaken your curiosity to know more about him.
During your visit to Split, it is well worth getting to know this brilliant artist as the city has famous and very significant sculptures that depict the history of Croatia, which you will come across during your walk through the historic centre.
First, one can start visiting the old temple dedicated to the Roman god Jupiter, located in the Peristyle. As already mentioned, this space was converted during the 6th century in the Baptistery of the Cathedral. Nowadays, here is located the sculpture dedicated to Saint John Baptist created by Ivan Mestrivic in 1954. Next, from the Peristyle continue walking by Dioklecijanova ulica that will guide you to the Golden Gate. Here stands the huge statue dedicated to Gregory of Nin, created at the end of the 1920s. This character adopts a threatening posture as he was a 10th century bishop who insisted the masses should be done in Croatian with the aim of evangelizing more easily the local people that didn´t understand Latin at that time. Nowadays, everybody touches the toe of his huge foot to ask for a wish and for this reason it is shiny and smooth, being one of the city´s main touristic traditions.
Finally, one must find the statue dedicated to the father of Croatian literature, Marko Marulic. As a curiosity, Marulic was the first person to use the term psychology to define this discipline.
For those having an interest in this artist´s work, it is possible to visit his magnificent museum thought by the author as a space to live, to create, and to expose. However, after his decision to leave for Zagreb (although in the end, he left for the United States where he died), he not only gave this space but most of his works to the city of Split. In the Gallery Mestrovic, more than 80 sculptures, aside from sketches, designs, paintings, plans, and furniture are exposed in a marvelous place that emerged from Mestrovic´s imagination.
Temple of Jupiter (Jupiterov Hram / Krstionica Sv. Ivana) - Ul. Kraj Svetog. Ivana 2.
Marko Marulic statue (Spomenik Marku Maruliku) - Trg Brace Radic 5, Split.
Gregory of Nin ´s statue (Gegur Ninski) - Ul. kralija Tomislava12, Split.
Gallery Meštrovic - Šetalištw Ivana Meštrovica 46, Split.
THE FAMOUS RIVA OR PROMENADE
Since we take for granted that your visit to Split is going to be very intense, always have the Riva or city´s Promenade as a reference, as it is a meeting point and a very easy place to find if one gets lost.
The promenade of Split is the entrance gate to its historic centre. At the starting point of the promenade, a clothes and vegetable market is usually installed almost every day in the morning. You will find nothing new, but it can be a reference point as it is just beside the bus and the car parking. Just halfway of the promenade one finds a small entrance that everybody crosses, it is the Brass Gate (Mjdena Vrata) which leads to the basement of the old Diocletian’s Palace taking one directly to the Peristyle where the Cathedral and the tourist office are found. At the end of the promenade, one can access different squares such as Trg Brace Radic, and further on to the famous Marmontova street.
Riva is a promenade with plenty of terraces full of people sitting in front of the bay of the Adriatic Sea, any time of the day, having a coffee and chatting away. No doubt this is an unbeatable place to make a short stop to relax and rest from your walk through the labyrinthic streets of the old city. A small relief to see the crowd of tourists and the beautiful and slender local people, who claim to be the tallest of Croatia.
The locals usually ask for a coffee and a little glass of water and they can spend hours chatting, looking around, and showing themselves off. Follow the saying: " wherever you go, do what you see" and have a good "pivo" (beer) to refresh your walk, a "travarica" (herb liqueur) accompanied by dry figs, Croatian custom before a heavy lunch to get the stomach ready, or simply order a coffee to regain the strength and to keep discovering this city full of surprises.
Address: Ruva, 21000, Split.
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