In Split, Croatia, residents’ ancestries can be just as intriguing as the remnants of the city’s Roman palace — something that we discovered on a superb walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our host for the afternoon, history-teacher-turned-guide, Dino Ivančić, exuded passion for Split’s history, yet we found that he’s rather modest about his own. Incredibly, Dino’s roots in Split go back more than 1,000 years.
“During my studies, I was nicknamed ‘the nobleman’ by my teachers,” Dino said. He added that there was perhaps an expectation that he would excel academically, but that he did not receive any special treatment.
I am curious if Dino knows where his family’s ancestral home is, and what their coat of arms looked like. “Yes, for sure,” he said, “but the home is not in the family anymore. My grandparents renounced their wealth during Tito’s time.”
In a city with buildings that still bear coats of arms from centuries bygone, I ask Dino if his family would have had a coat of arms like those that we see adorning so many buildings in Split’s Old Town. Again, Dino is humble about his background.
“I think the coat of arms had two griffins, maybe with a golden cup.” Though Dino playfully laments that many of his friends are not as riveted as he is by the history that surrounds them, he does mention the locals’ interest in historical relics, especially when discovered on their own property.
“During the Yugoslavian era, my friends found Roman-era coins in their yard. They sold them and were able to buy a house and an apartment with the money,” Dino said. “Imagine how much those coins would sell for now…”
The childhood archaeologist in me is secretly green with envy. I can’t imagine having grown up in an environment where people might chance upon 1,700-year-old coins in their backyard!
Next, Dino whisked us past what still remains of the Palace of Roman Emperor Diocletian — its walls, basement, Mausoleum (now the St. Duje Cathedral), Peristyle, Vestibule, and Jupiter’s Temple (now the baptistery). He also gave us an overview of Diocletian himself, describing the emperor as a “man of contradictions” who was born to a family in a low economic class not far from present-day Split, only to “rise to the stars.”
Since the Roman Empire was so large, Diocletian actually ran it with three other co-emperors.
“Diocletian made more reforms than any other Roman emperor,” Dino said. “He was also the first official to abdicate in western civilization, and one of the only Roman emperors to die of natural causes.”
After Dino had shown us the the palace shell, and several other notable spots (Split’s Riva, a bustling seaside promenade filled with café-goers, the bronze Gregory of Nin Statue and the Pjaca — the so-called People’s Square), we had sufficiently worked up an appetite so we headed to the Konoba Varoš, a cozy restaurant that’s popular with Split locals and not far from the town center. Surrounded by ceilings enveloped with fishnets and walls adorned with maritime–themed paintings, we started off with a carafe of a Varoš house wine – a very pleasant and traditional Dalmatian Plavac Mali, which is a blend of Zinfandel (Crljenak Kaštelanski) and Dobričić grapes. Shawn and I ordered sautéed Red Scorpion Fish (Škarpina) and Black Cuttlefish Risotto (Crni Rižot).
“In Croatia,” Dino said, “it is customary to share all the dishes that are on the table — what’s there is fair game.”
Aiming to do as the locals do, Shawn and I sampled each other’s selections. The fare, served family style on stainless steel platters, was decidedly Mediterranean, flavored with Croatia’s celebrated olive oil, garlic, spritzes of lemon, and fresh herbs. A plate of grilled eggplant and zucchini was a perfect accompaniment, and Shawn enjoyed slices of golden, crispy bread.
“We have a saying that a fish must swim three times — once in the sea, in olive oil, and then in wine. Of course, the wine is in your stomach,” Dino said, as he encouraged me to drizzle more olive oil on my fish.
As we enjoyed our meal, we bombarded Dino with questions about life in Split. Somehow the conversation also transitioned to stray, but interesting topics.
“Croatians,” Dino mentioned, “invented the necktie, fingerprinting, the torpedo and even the pen.” The man who invented the solid-ink fountain pen was named Penkala.
With the sky having transitioned from brilliant blue to steel grey and tangerine sunset tones, we strolled once more along the bustling Riva towards our ‘home away from home’ in the Old Town. Thanks to Dino, many of the city’s mysteries had been unraveled, but enough remained to keep me guessing as we passed through the weathered limestone gates.
To schedule an individual or group tour with Dino in Split or beyond, you can reach him at the following email address: Dino.ivancic [at] hotmail.com, or mobile number: +00 385 98 647781.
At the time of writing, there were separate fees to enter the St. Duje Cathedral, Jupiter’s Temple, and Basement / Cellar, all of which are situated in what was once Diocletian’s Palace. There is, however, no fee to walk through Diocletian’s Palace, since much of Split’s Old Town (including shops, hotels, restaurants, and residences) is now housed inside the palace’s former walls.
If you’ll be staying in Split for a few days, you might be interested in the Split Card, which gives you free entry to certain museums and galleries, and reduced rates to others. Back in 2014, people staying in Split for 3 days or more could pick up the Split Card for free, but as of 2017, there is a fee to purchase the card. The link above details the current cost, as well as the participating museums and businesses.
We’ve spent two winters in Split, finding accommodation in apartments that would be packed during the summer months, but are practically empty during winter. During our first 2.5 months there, we stayed at the lovely Kaleta Apartments (affiliate link) which are located within Diocletian’s Palace. Our studio apartment (called the ‘Diocletian’s Suite’) featured much character, including Roman brickwork embedded into our wall, and overhead views of Splits’ Old Town streets. Owners Novica and Negri were thoughtful citizen ambassadors too. Two years later, we returned to Split, staying in the charming Varoš neighborhood, characterized by quirky stone homes sporting hunter-green shutters and flower boxes. For those 2 months, we stayed in quaint studio apartments at the Guesthouse F (affiliate link). We especially enjoyed our tiny terrace and the kindness of our hosts, Anja and Miro. One of Guesthouse F’s apartments was originally a horseshoe maker’s workshop, which previously belonged to Anja’s grandfather. Shawn and I dubbed it the ‘horseshoe cottage’.
If you’re interested in old Roman routes and history, be sure to explore the following websites, which allow you to plot out a route and glimpse Roman sites along the way: OmnesViae: Roman Routeplanner and Vici
Do you need more trip-planning inspiration? This link contains an index of all my posts from Croatia.
Disclosure & Thanks:
Our walking tour and lunch were provided by the Central Dalmatia Tourist Board, to which we extend thanks.
Hvala – an extra special thank you – to Nasja, to our guide Dino, and finally to the Konoba Varoš Restaurant team for everything you did to make our afternoon so special.
Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene.
A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia.
Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.
View more posts
105 thoughts on “Inside Diocletian’s Palace: A Walking Tour in Split, Croatia”
Reblogged this on victormiguelvelasquez.
Reblogged this on Our Adventure In Croatia.
What a fabulous sounding tour! I would be very interested to do this, having been there 2x on my own it feels like not enough time to absorb it all.
Chasing the Donkey, I highly recommend an in-depth tour. Though we’re lucky enough to be spending 3 months here, it’s still easy to stroll by a wonderful building without knowing what happened there hundreds (even thousands) of years ago. It’s fun to imagine, but this lovely tour helped us answer many questions.
Coincidentally, I was researching Croatian figs the other day after going to Split’s Green Market, and happened upon your site. It’s a pleasure to connect; thanks for dropping by! :)
Do you live on one of the islands or on mainland Croatia?
Very nice article and pictures, Tricia :D
Hvala lijepa for sharing this piece, and for your thoughtful feedback, Ina. Now that we’ve learned a good amount about Split’s history, we’ll have to continue to acquire more Croatian words: kikiriki, jabuke, sir – at least we’re in the double digits with the new vocabulary. :) Hope you had a lovely weekend and thank you again.
Yep, peanuts, apple and cheese go well – don’t forget crno vino Tricia :D Cheers
How could I forget the wonderful Crljenak Kaštelanski and Plavac Mali? :)
Reblogged this on Croatia, the War, and the Future and commented:
And history lives on – dignified – in Split, Croatia
I am always amazed by the remnants of the Roman empire flung so far from its center. I was born near Baden-Baden in Germany where the Romans already built baths using the thermal springs there. And the vineyards in the hills outside of this city were originally started by the Romans as well.
Annette, me too! The technological achievements of the time fascinate me. Just today we were riding a bit outside of Split and glimpsed 1,700 year-old aqueducts alongside the highway. They’re quite beautiful, and we heard they’re still functioning.
In Germany, I enjoyed seeing Roman-era remnants in Trier. I’m trying to remember some of the other cities in Baden-Württemberg with such ruins? :) I’ve only been away from Heidelberg for two years and the names in the area are beginning to escape me…
Tricia, this is all an amazing history about the city of Spit, I had no clue what a gem of history it is. I am so drawn, to that Egyptian sphinx head, 3.500n years old…… I wonder about it’s history……. how long has it been on this building…. how come it’s not protected more, I mean 3.500 years old is a lot to preserve, how interesting. Thank you for your so much interesting and educating post……. on a funny note… what does ice cream taste like in Croatia? LOL. Just being curious…. Happy January!
Hi Cornelia, I appreciate your sense of curiosity! For whatever reason, that sphinx head also fascinated me. There it is hanging in a quiet courtyard, where it goes unnoticed by many. Both times we’ve been in the courtyard the 3,500-year-old relic’s companion were pieces of colorful laundry drying in the breeze. :) It made me wonder who technically owns it, and do they even realize its worth?
I’m not certain how long it’s been hanging there, but Diocletian’s mausoleum was converted into a church hundreds of years ago (the bell tower was constructed in 1100 AD). Our guide mentioned that Christians mis-took the Egyptian sphinxes as pagan symbols and that’s why they decapitated them as an act of revenge.
We haven’t had ice cream from a gelato shop, but our Croatian friend introduced us to a very novel phenomenon. By chance, he drizzled Dalmatian olive oil on vanilla ice cream, and now shares it with his guests. We enjoyed some on New Year’s Eve and found it to be quite fantastic!
Hope your week is off to a wonderful start, Cornelia.
Just amazing – the light, the architecture, the carving, the history, the archways and alleys – wonderful !!
Amazing is a fitting way to describe it here, Valerie. It’s incredible to think that the palace remnants have been around for so long and to then see people today living among them. In our apartment – which is likely a few hundred years old – there is a section of the wall – perhaps an old doorway – that was filled in with authentic Roman bricks. It’s a perfect example of what our tour guide described on our tour (residents hundreds of years ago extracting bricks from the palace to construct their own homes). Thanks as always for dropping by, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday!
This eternally young city with around 200 thousand inhabitants has lived its urban rhythm for 1700 years with Diocletian’s palace at its heart, which is also the historical centre of the city and a UNESCO world heritage site. The Cathedral of sv. Dujam [St. Domnios], the patron saint of Split, is located in the mausoleum of Emperor Diocletian, and its sumptuous interior is a gathering place for many of the faithful and tourists. Many valuable monuments of culture are located outside the walls of Diocletian’s Palace (Renaissance Prokurative Square, palaces, churches, museums…).
Located in the warmest part of the northern Mediterranean coast, in the very centre of the Adriatic coast, this tourist, economic and sports (Goran Ivanišević, Branka Vlasic, Toni Kukoč) region guards its green soul on Marjan hill, where a forest park near the city offers a comfortable and quiet atmosphere and a walk far from the town noise.
The rich offer for tourists as well as the unique cultural heritage and many cultural and tourist events gives Split its special charm and makes it an ideal holiday destination throughout the year.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources, thank you for comment. You’ve highlighted many other spots that we love in Split – especially Marjan Hill, where we often do our morning walks. I’m pleased we have so much more time to explore here!
You must have spent alot of time making the video. It was very done. Your husband is a good narrator. Your essay and pictures are very nice.
I wonder how Croatian Zinfandel compares to Californian Zinfandel. Zinfandels from California are usually big wines: big flavor and big alcohol (around 14%). Climate can make a big difference.
Hi Gerard! Shawn is passionate about making the videos, so it makes the time fly by. He’ll be happy to hear your thoughtful comments about his work, and I’m thrilled you enjoyed the pictures here. Thank you so much for the feedback!
I haven’t had many California Zinfandels – I’ve lived overseas too long! :) – but I asked Shawn (who has made a lot of pilgrimages to CA wine country) for his take on the two. He’s noticed that the Croatian Zins we’ve tried are not very oaky, as compared to California’s. The alcohol content here is also high – around 14%.
Coincidentally, we just got back from a cooking class led by a Croatian friend. I’ll be writing about it soon, with more details on a very special wine (hint: it was literally aged under the sea, in the Adriatic!) :-) Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday afternoon.
Wow. Gorgeous photos. I came here from ‘Our Adventure in Croatia’ (they had commented on my Destination Guide to Croatia). If you don’t mind, I’ll link your blog to my guide, I think you have some great stuff that might interest readers of my blog.
Question: what would you recommend to someone looking to rent an apartment in Split or Dubrovnik for 1, 2 months?
Frank, a pleasure to connect! Thank you very much for your kind words; Split is a beautiful and photogenic city, as you’ll discover if you head this way in September. (If you’re a shutterbug like me, your camera will be working overtime.)
Yes, please feel free to link to my site; it’s nice to help fellow travel enthusiasts. And, if you don’t mind, could you please share the link to your guide here?
Re: finding an apartment in Split or Dubrovnik. I’ve only twice spent short amounts of time in Dubrovnik, so I don’t have advice for finding a longer-term place there. The wonderful Terri & James over at Gallivance.net did spend some an extended amount of time in Dubrovnik, so consider reaching out to them. I’m sure they’d be happy to help!
My husband, Shawn and I have wintered in Trogir (a stunning UNESCO site) and Split, and each time we lucked out in finding wonderful studio apartments. If you can, travel during the off season as many apartments are virtually sitting empty, and rates are infinitely more reasonable than during the summer months. In Trogir, we looked online prior to arriving there, and weren’t satisfied with what we found. We booked a temporary place for two nights online, then went apartment hunting in person once we got to Trogir. Much of the town was shuttered for the season, but by word of mouth some locals referred us to a great pizzeria with a lovely studio ap’t above. To find our Split accommodation, we made a few email inquiries in advance and then checked out the places in person once we arrived. (Using a site like Booking is great for initially filtering the amenities you need; for us, Wifi and a washing machine were key.)
For more info on Split, I was referred to the “Expats in Split” group on Facebook, and it’s been a helpful resource. We also have Croatian friends here who are gurus about Croatian wine, cuisine, history, and spear fishing, and I’ll be sharing more tales about our adventures here in the coming days.
Thanks Tricia! Yes, I guess finding a place by actually getting on the ground and asking people would be the best way. I’ll also check out Gallivance.net.
My Guide to Croatia was guest posted by FrankinCroatia – you can find it here: http://bbqboy.net/croatia-guide-travel-tips/. Feel free to comment or add any info that you think may be helpful. And I’ll definitely include this post as well as a few other sites that focus on Croatia.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Tricia!
Frank, it’s a pleasure to connect and swap information. I just perused the guide and have mentally added more spots to our must-see list as a result. It just hit me that if you’re looking for more pieces on Croatia, here’s my archived list of posts – from hunting for wild asparagus, to Dubrovnik, to architecture in Trogir… :)
Hope you’re enjoying the weekend!
Such beautiful images. I don’t think we saw all .that. open as all that open to the public in the 80s?
Hi Anne & many thanks! I’m not certain if some of these spots were closed off in recent decades. We did see an image from the 1920s and 1930s and the cellar was certainly blocked off then; I don’t think the trash in the basement was excavated until the 1950s. I see you lived in India for a few months. In what part of the country did you live?
We lived in Ahmedabad for the university for the professor and students. We visited for two weeks in the north and ten days in the south . Adored every second!
What a rewarding experience that must have been! Though I haven’t been to Ahmedabad or Gujarat, I did spend some time in the north (the so-called ‘Golden Triangle: Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, plus Pushkar) and in the south (Munnar, Fort Kochi, Mumbai, Kerala Backwaters). Five weeks there was not long enough and I’m hoping we’ll be lucky enough to return someday.
We didn’t like Delhi much but loved Agra, Jaipur, and Odiapur. Love Kerala backwaters. My favorite is Varanasi. The Hindu mythology dates it at 9000 years old or the oldest city on earth. Archaeologists say it is in the top 10 oldest cities….such spirituality and energy there. Go if you have a chance! Also loved Pondicherry!
Anne, one would almost need a lifetime to explore India to the fullest! The descriptions of Varanasi and Pondicherry continue to intrigue me. I agree that Delhi (and Mumbai) are pretty intense, nevertheless I’m happy we went so that we can understand the country better. Do you have plans to go back any time soon?
Hoping to go back in 2014 for another semester. We would have gone to Mumbai but the trips cost more than expected so we just went from one train station to the other. We traveled for 2 weeks to the north and 10 days to the south. The professor has another long list of places he wants to visit. Delhi was hard because we were traveling around in the city without a guide most of the time. Professor has his Iphone taken in one of the railroad stations. Did love the mogul “Small taj” site. Of course you are right. . . a lifetime to two to begin to see and understand it all!
Anne, it sounds like you kept yourselves busy – and isn’t it splendid to have multiple excuses to return? :)
Delhi was my first introduction to India – I still remember being astounded by the sea of people in Old Delhi, then trying to make my way around. I was a solo traveler on that first trip, but I would next return with my husband to explore a few spots in the south.
Curious why you have traveled so extensively in India ? Lucky you !
Indeed, I’m lucky to have been there twice, Anne! The first time, I went on a week-long, whirlwind trip, with the intention of visiting one of my friends who was working in Delhi. Unfortunately, she was called away on business unexpectedly, but I still went on my journey solo. In late 2011, my husband and I embarked on a sabbatical through Asia. We spent 4 months in Southeast Asia, then one month in India, before heading back to Germany. It was hard leaving and we’re eager to return someday!
Indeed you are as I am. I hear about people going to India for a week, and think they didn’t scratch the surface, but I guess a sip is better than nothing . We are hopping to go again with students in a year. Have to check when my husband’s next sabbatical is…..great idea. I think he went to Italy on the last one. He says professors don’t get rich but there are other perks!
You are torturing me Tricia with your incredible blue skies, exotic settings and then the food – on my the black cuttlefish risotto – to die for. Always, always my darling girl I pack my valise and holiday along with you. Armchair travel at it’s finest!! What a glorious way to start this new year. XX Virginia
Virginia, I know – we’re so lucky to be here. :) We’ll be here ’til early March, so come on over! (Reasonable off-season rates, fresh outdoor fruit & veggie market – need I say more?)
Speaking of cuttlefish, we heard that a ‘black pizza’ exists somewhere in this city (made with cuttlefish). One of our friends owns a wine tour & cooking class business, and he constantly amazes us with his ingenuity (vanilla ice cream drizzled with olive oil, bottles of Zinfandel aged under the Adriatic Sea). I’m going to try my hand at risotto again tonight, but I’m sure mine will not compare. :)
Sending blue skies your way…
You are a darling girl. Sending us blue skies .. and dreams. V.
Rich history ,amazing culture and delicious cuisine .Excellent post.Jalal
Jalal, Croatia definitely has all three, and I’ll add another characteristic we’ve discovered: welcoming people :) Thank you for dropping by.
My colleague Dino :) “Game of thrones” was filmed in Diocletian’s palace cellar and in front of City museum :D
Hi Natalija, what a small world it is; funny that you and Dino know each other. :)
It would have been fun to have been here when Game of Thrones was being filmed. Wasn’t it also filmed out by the Klis Fortress? Is the City Museum near the northern side of the palace complex? It’s on our must-see-in-Split list, which is growing ever-longer by the day.
Yes, in Split there was few locations for filming: Diocletian’s palace cellar, street in front of City museum (Papalićeva ulica-you can find it on Google maps I think, closer to the northern side. follow the street from the Peristyle to Golden gate, and you will find it somewhere in the middle), Kliss fortress, and one quarry in Žrnovnica (you passed by that quarry on your way to Mosor mountain). Other locations are: locations in the mountain above town of Makarska and Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik was King’s landing in previous seasons too… My brother was an extra, he played Unsullied so at home we have his photo with Khaleesi hanging on the wall :) here you can see cellar, quarry, papalić street, dubrovnik… and it’s only a trailer!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZY43QSx3Fk
PS. Of course I know Dino! Very funny, always makes me lough :D
Natalija, it must have been exciting to have been here during the filming of Game of Thrones! I must confess that I’ve never seen the show before, but Shawn has watched the first two seasons. We enjoyed watching the trailer you shared here, and picking out the scenes from Diocletian’s Palace Cellar and Papalićeva ulica. When you lead tours here and in Trogir, it must be fun telling your guests that your brother was an extra! :)
We’re hoping to make it out to Klis Fortress very soon, then, who know – perhaps I’ll have to start watching the episodes so I can pick out all the places from Croatia. Hope you had a great trip to Germany; we’ll be in touch about meeting up here soon. Thanks again for sharing all your Split insight here, Natalija! Please keep it coming.
Those mosaics are stunning. There is so much to see and do in Croatia–you are fortunate to have so much time there! When I go again, I’ll be sure to add this day tour to my list.
Jenna, the mosaics are indeed incredible! What’s amazing to me is that so much of this architecture is quite exposed to the elements. The 3,500-year-old decapitated sphinx head now hanging on an unassuming building is what really caught my attention. A resident we spoke to didn’t think much of it. One history buff we met here lamented that people fly the buildings by without giving the history much thought, though I guess for them, it’s common, something they see everyday.
Again, another great series of photos ~ it really shows the city in it historical glory…and fun with all the current, modern day insight. There is nothing more valuable and fun than a great local guide; Dino sounded great. An incredible post, another push for me to head to Croatia in ’14. Cheers!
Would a Croatia visit in 2014 be your first? We’ve been lucky to have spent a few months in this region this and last year and still have much, much more to explore. We’ll have to wait to see Istria and some of the country’s inland areas on a future trip. Croatia’s various influences throughout the ages (Venetians, Austro-Hungarians, Romans) make the culture quite multi-layered.
Croatia has been on my list for years ~ several friends have fallen in love with the country and say I need to go soon. Really have enjoyed your blog/photos/video.
It’s on your list with good reason! We have not even yet seen the islands (which surprises our friends who say “you haven’t seen anything yet then”) and we love what we’ve seen. The rugged mountains are fantastic for hiking, and other outdoor pursuits, and the people are quite warm and welcoming. We are hoping to return this autumn and time our visit with the olive & grape harvest so that we can see how all this fantastic olive oil and wine is made. Speaking of seasonal food, we were also recently delighted to discover that Croatia’s wild asparagus is cropping up here in Dalmatia. Have we all convinced you yet? :)
While the mountains, natural beauty and people really are appealing, the olive oil & wine making put it over the edge…I need to get there ASAP :-)
Very many years ago, in the days of the former Yugoslavia, we spent a couple of holidays there, briefly visiting/passing through Split. Sadly, I remember little about it but your photographs have set me thinking it would be a great place to revisit. At the time we loved the diversity of Yugoslavia and the friendliness of the people, so it was dreadful to see its disintegration after Tito’s death, though it was widely believed he was what held it together. Must trawl a few websites for more information. Thank you.
Dorothy, how interesting it must have been to have voyaged here when it was Yugoslavia. Cornelia, one of my other lovely readers, also used to travel here as a child. Do you have any photographs from your holidays?
Shawn and I happened upon this vintage 1960s promotional video for Yugoslavia. We enjoyed seeing many familiar spots, and hearing the commentary. I’m wondering if some of this will bring back memories for you too? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B6eBAuhvEY&feature=player_embedded
Tricia, your excellent photography never fails to amaze me! Absolutely beautiful. So sorry that we missed Split when we were in Croatia, and Diocletian’s Palace is obviously a world-class treasure. Just another reason to return to Croatia. :) I think I’m most surprised by the intricate level of architectural detail. In your experience, is this common throughout Croatia? ~Terri
Terri & James,
Shawn and I are thrilled that we’ve convinced you to head back this way. :) I think one thing you’ll really enjoy about Diocletian’s Palace is that it’s so lived in. For better or worse, children climb on some of the Roman ruins, as if they’re plastic jungle gyms. And through the centuries, people have made their homes inside the palace shell, leading to a delightfully quirky mix of architectural styles, and new nooks and crannies to discover every day. Our inner detective is always asking, “I wonder why they blocked in that window…” or “what do you think that was used for?” It certainly gets our creative juices flowing!
I have much more to see before I can accurately address your question, but we’ve glimpsed much intricate architecture in the old towns of Croatian cities. From the multi-face-adorned cathedral in Šibenik (Renaissance) to Trogir (Romanesque-Gothic) to Dubrovnik (which you know) and the north (which we haven’t seen much of, but there’s Austro-Hungarian architecture in Zagreb) to socialist-style structures, it’s a fascinating country to explore. We’re looking forward to getting out to see the ruins of nearby Solin, which became the Roman capital of Dalmatia.
A wonderful post. The video on Diocletian’s Palace was amazing. And the photographs of Split were a joy to look at. Thank you.
Glad you enjoyed the virtual voyage, Carol! My husband, Shawn, is the one behind that videocamera, so I’ll be sure to pass on your compliment.
I see you’re a writer – I think Split would be a great setting for a novel. :) Thank you again for dropping by.
Reblogged this on Just Go Places.
Wonderful article, so full of details! And the photos are absolutely gorgeous! Congrats! I’ve never been in Split, but next time I’ll to Croatia sure I’ll stop by!Hugs – Cris
Hi Cris! Split is studded with details fro throughout the centuries, making it a joy to explore. When you’ve visited Croatia in the past, did you come via ferry from Italy? What cities did you go to? We’re thinking of perhaps returning to Germany via Italy, and taking the ferry from Croatia to get there. :)
Hi Tricia, how are you? es, i agree, cities that pass through different centuries are the beautiful place to explore. When i went in Croatia some years ago, we went by car! It was a long trip .. we visited Zagabria and Krk Island. But I didn’t visit Split, I would like to explore it someday.
In Italy there are more ferries for the Southern Croatia, to reach Northern Croatia… it’s better to take a plane. :)
Cris, I’m doing very well and enjoying a bit of sunshine this Saturday morning. We also once went to Zagreb via a long road trip, all the way from Germany. :)
What kind of activities would you recommend on Krk Island? We haven’t yet visited any of Croatia’s islands, but are eager to do so. Thank you for sharing the detail about the ferries between the two countries. I hope we get to take one soon.
Hello Tricia, sorry for the delay! We stayed in krk for a week and we made some excursions in two nearby islands. Krk is perfect for a relaxing trip, there are some tiny villages to visit, and black rocks and white sand beaches where you can relax or tasting great seafood :)
We take the boat to go to Rab Island, and we made some trekking in the grove around the beach; another day we went to Goli Otok, where you can visit ruins of an old internment camp. But there are plenty of excursions to make.
Cris, no worries – now it’s my time to apologize for a snail-paced reply. :( It sounds as though you had a nice balance between natural, cultural and culinary experiences. I’ll have to read more about Krk and perhaps we can visit it if we return to Croatia this autumn. Hope you’ve been having a lovely week, and until next time…
If only the walls could talk and yet I think both your post and Shawn’s video capture the beautiful and history of the city. Enjoyed very much!
Mary Ann, glad to see you’re back from your adventures, safe and sound. We’re thrilled you enjoyed our virtual walking tour. Have we encouraged you to come visit Split yet? :)
Incredible history and photo tour of this amazing place. I plan to bookmark this blog for future reference. I so want to go to this area, but it it won’t be anytime soon. As always, the quality of your blogs is first class. :)
Lynne, thanks for those very kind words! Sharing snippets of our tales with others is really rewarding. That said, I hope you and Ron make it here when the time is right for you. The locals have been so kind and welcoming. We’re especially happy that we’re here again during the winter so they have more time to talk and meet with us. We hear that the summer months in Split and the islands are crazy. I was in Dubrovnik during the summer about 6 years ago, and I can attest to that. It’s a very different kind of feel!
Amazing post, Tricia! Brings back fond memories of Split! What astonishing blue skies!
Hi Alli, how long were you here in Split? There’s so much to do in the area – we’re happy to have nearly 3 months to explore. Like you did, though, we hope to have another good string of weather so we can make it out to one or two of the islands. Thanks for your comment, and have a wonderful weekend! Aren’t you heading to SE Asia soon?
I was in Split for about 3 days before cruising to some islands! I can’t wait to return to Croatia one day. I am leaving for SE Asia in three weeks!! :)
You must be excited! Hopefully things will calm down in Bangkok and Cambodia by then. We have some friends in Thailand at the moment, and their pictures have us yearning for some Thai Green Curry. :)
Your information is very useful and so is Shawn’s video – thanks to both of you. We are on a cruise that is in Split from noon to 8:00pm. We want to spend a decent amount of time exploring the palace with a guide – so that we can really soak up the experience. Would that leave sufficient time to visit Trogir? We prefer to appreciate an experience vs. rush around seeing a lot but not really taking it in. thanks for any feedback, Liz
Greetings Liz, and thanks for reading. We’ve spent several months in both Trogir and Split, but both times we’ve been here during the quiet season (Feb-Apr and Dec-Mar). What time of year will you be in Split?
Though Split and Trogir are only about 30 km. (18 miles) apart, we’ve heard that the road connecting the two is incredibly backed up during the height of tourist season. Someone did mention that there’s a water taxi which might be quicker, but we have no experience in taking that. (We’ve only taken a bus, or ridden with friends.) Knowing that you have roughly 8 hours, perhaps less if you have to factor in commute time to/from your ship, I’m wondering if you might feel rushed trying to squeeze both in? It depends on your travel style. :)
Trogir and Split are both well worth seeing, in my opinion (beautiful architecture, much history). Last spring, we did a walking tour in Trogir with our friend, Natalija, which I’ve detailed here: https://triciaannemitchell.com/2013/03/19/walking-tour-trogir-croatia-history-guide/
We have also become friends with a Split entrepreneur who customizes day-trips. His name is Srdjan, and you might get some additional ideas of things to do via the offerings on his site: http://winetastingcroatia.com/ We recently joined him and a winemaking friend on a fish-grilling experience overlooking the city of Split and the Adriatic: https://triciaannemitchell.com/2014/01/19/croatian-food-wine-things-to-do-in-split-croatia/
Again, both Srdjan and Natalija have become our friends – so I’m biased in that way :) – but I think they’re kind people who are passionate about what they do, and as Split natives, they’re good resources.
We greatly enjoyed our tour of Diocletian’s Palace with Dino, and were pleased the tourist board put us in contact. With a background in history, he was also very enthusiastic about the subject matter and made the city come alive for us.
Lots of options – happy trip planning! :)
Some wonderful images there, I love that one of the mosaic floor. The pattern isn’t one that I’ve seen of that width before.
Lawrence, I just saw that you studied at the Mosaic Art School in Ravenna. We were just in Emilia-Romagna and and hoped to make it to Ravenna, but didn’t have the time. We heard the mosaic-adorned cathedral there is well worth a visit. We loved the region so much that I hope we’ll be back soon. How long did you study there?
Also, in Split, we visited the Archaeology Museum. I was pretty fascinated by the mosaics they had on display there; I hope to craft a blog post around that visit soon.
do you have an email address for dino ivancic?
Hi Teresa, are you headed to Split? Dino’s email is: Dino.ivancic [at] hotmail.com
I would love this walking tour, Tricia. It would sit so nicely in my Monday walks, and the reality would be even better! The details on the temple are fabulous. Thanks for sharing your obvious enthusiasm :)
Jo, perhaps you can take your Monday Walks series for a field trip one of these days? :)
The ceiling of that temple was one of the highlights of the Roman-era architecture in Split for me too. In recent centuries, there was a large tower placed on top of that temple’s roof. It’s amazing that the temple ceiling was able to withstand the added weight. The tower’s since been removed though.
Tricia it seems our paths have crossed ….a few months apart. Wandering about Split is fabulous!
Isn’t it? :) Despite having spent three months there, the novelty of seeing an Egyptian sphinx nestled in among a former Roman Emperor’s palace never got old. What other stops did you make in Croatia?
We were in Dubrovnik and Hvar. Both fabulous as well. Definitely could have spent much more time.
We finally made it to Hvar last month, and to our pleasant surprise, there were no tourists there. We loved Stari Grad especially, and hope to get back there – and possibly to Vis and Korčula – this fall.
We didn’t get to Vis and Korcula but we too loved Stari Grad.
I too am green with envy that one can find 1,700-year old coins in the backyards of Split!
I should add that I did find some pretty fascinating fossils as a child, but finding man-made objects would’ve added a different layer of intrigue to my childhood excavations. :)
Sadly, I have yet to unearth anything, either fossilized or man-made in my excavations! How exciting for you! What kind of fossils were they?
Ah, I wish I remember the technical details, but I think I was 9 or 10 at the time. My mom, wishing to feed my interest in the topic, took me and my fossils to our local university where a professor who specialized in the topic analyzed them. I just remember that they were hundreds of millions of years old. Of course, I was doing some independent analysis too. I was just absolutely certain that my fossils contained a dinosaur egg. :)
When I next go home, I’ll have to look for the fossils. When I moved overseas, I even brought one or two with me.
Tricia we spent several days here and had a hotel room with a window looking out onto Diocletian’s Palace. Wonderful to revisit this gorgeous city with you.
Glad the post brought back fond memories for you, Sue. My husband and I were lucky to spend just over two months here during the low-tourist season. It was a special time to be in Split, as many of the residents who work in the tourist industry had down time, allowing us to chat with them about life in the city. Of course, there were many apartments to choose from, and we felt quite spoiled being able to stroll over to the daily fresh produce and fish markets, up to Marjan, etc.
Tricia, thank you for such a thorough article! I happened upon this page while sitting within the Palace and googling for some history. Your details added so much to our wandering around the area. Thank you!
Sara, I love to hear that! Thanks for reaching out and letting me know it was of use to you as you tiptoed through the palace area. So, how long will you be exploring Croatia? After spending two winters there – one in Split and another in Trogir – it feels much like home to me and my husband. We’re contemplating a return this autumn. Enjoy the rest of your trip and feel free to let me know if you have any questions about the area. :)
Wow, super photos and narrative. I was labeling my photos and couldn’t remember some names. Very thorough and very professional. Thank you.
Hi VN, I’m glad the post proved useful to you, even after your trip. :) Did you visit Split during the summer or winter months? Coincidentally, we were just back there for a few months this autumn. Split feels like home to us in many ways.
Thank you for taking the time to share your kind words.
This is so amazing! My grandmother, “Baba” as she was known, passed away a few years ago at the age of 99 just short of her 100th birthday. She was from Split and came to America at the age of 18. She told many stories, but never once has she mentioned this bit of history. I still have family in Croatia, but have never been there myself. I have always wanted to visit Croatia, now more than ever! Thanks so much for this great bit of history!
Hi Joy, your grandmother must have had a trove of fascinating stories to share! Do you recall if she cooked Croatian / Dalmatian food? And do your Croatian relatives live in Split?
Coincidentally, I’m back in Croatia. My husband and I love being in Split during the winter months, when there aren’t many tourists. Since the climate is Mediterranean, the winters are generally mild, too. Our Croatian friends say that the crowds and sweltering summer temperatures can be a bit much. Now, though, the palace area is mostly filled with locals going about their daily affairs.
I hope you’ll have the opportunity to explore your family’s roots here someday soon, Joy. Croatia is a beautiful and diverse country, and the people are some of the most welcoming I’ve encountered on my travels.
Yes, my Baba had so many stories! Oh, and did she ever cook! She made many soups and she made the best koupasa (not sure of spelling) The koupasa was actually collard greens and potatoes, but I grew up calling it koupasa, as my baba did. I remember several wonderful pastries that she used to make. I’m not sure of the spelling, but here goes: She made a wonderful pancake-like pastry filled with jelly called palechinka. She also made krustula on special occasions. Making krustula was almost like an event itself! Many ladies would get together to make a day of making krustula! Also, every Christmas my baba would make a special treat called krokonut (once again, not sure of the spelling) My baba was from Duba and my Dide’ was from Split. Currently my relatives live in Zagreb, but I probably still have some in Split and Duba.
I hope you and your husband enjoy every minute of your time in Croatia. I’ve always wanted to visit! Maybe one day. :)
The koupasa your Baba made sounds like something locals in Dalmatia taught me to cook. They often use garlic, potatoes, olive oil, and ‘blitva.’ I think that last ingredient translates to Swiss chard. It’s one of our favorite accompaniments to grilled chicken or fish.
And we’ve had palačinke too, filled with homemade preserves. One of our hosts was kind enough to make a gluten-free version for me, just going to show how wonderful Croatian hospitality is!
I’ll have to keep my eyes open for krustula and krokonut. Were the krustula shaped into balls, or were they formed into more of a straw shape? The reason I ask, is because for the two Christmases we’ve been here, our hosts have made donut-hole like treats called fritule: https://www.thespruce.com/klaras-traditional-croatian-fritters-recipe-1135857
Oh! I’ve had fritule before! I simply used to call them, “Baba’s donuts!”
Here is a link with an image of krostule https://www.recepti-svijeta.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/krostule.jpg
Ah, that’s it! Our host on the island of Korcula was a passionate baker, and surprised us with a batch of krostule. While I didn’t get to try it (I don’t eat gluten), my husband was rewarded with two portions, and said it was tasty. Walking on Split’s riverside promenade the other day, I noticed that all the Christmas market stands are overflowing with fritule — certainly a favorite with the kids.
This is a brilliant post about Split! You really covered everything beautifully! I see you’ve met Grgur of Nin in Split… well he has a mini statue in his home town of Nin. The same town my mum is from. Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories of Split! X
Hvala lijepa — thanks so much, Anna!
We’ve not met “mini Grgur” in Nin yet, but have passed by the larger statue in Split countless times. :) The last time we were there, a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer sat by Grgur’s toes so that people could rub them for good luck and minimize Covid concerns.
I think it’s interesting that the statue used to adorn Split’s Peristyle. It seems quite at home near the palace’s Golden Gate.