Inside Diocletian’s Palace: A Walking Tour in Split, Croatia

Bell Tower on Peristyle in Split Croatia

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 easygoing 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.

Golden Gate (Zlatna Vrata) Split Croatia

The palace’s Golden Gate entrance, known as Porta Aurea in Roman times (Zlatna Vrata in Croatian). This is the north side of the complex.

Golden Gate Detail (Zlatna Vrata) Split Croatia

You’ll find yourself regularly craning your neck while exploring Split’s Old Town, because the buildings are adorned with so many wonderful details! This is what you see while passing through the Golden Gate.

Split Riva Palm Trees

Mighty palms and their graceful shadows on a mild December afternoon.

Split Riva Promenade

Split’s seaside promenade, known informally as the Riva. It’s the place where people go to enjoy coffee and be seen. The cafés and shops here are built onto the south side of the old palace walls.

An artistic interpretation of Diocletian's Palace, as it might have originally looked. Image in the public domain.

An artistic interpretation of Diocletian’s Palace, as it might have originally looked. Dino explained that the slaves, servants, military and personal guards of Diocletian lived on the north side of the complex; Diocletian’s quarters faced the Adriatic Sea. Since the land on which the palace was built was sloping, Diocletian ordered construction of basements to elevate his quarters above the commoners’ space. Today, only one of the towers remains. The rest were broken apart by residents in later centuries to construct their own homes and businesses. Recycling the stone was easier than going to a quarry for materials. Image in the public domain, PD-1923.

Basement of Diocletian Palace

Though the upper levels of the palace did not survive, incredibly the basement area is still intact today. “Garbage thrown into the subterranean area probably saved the basement from being scavenged. Originally the ceilings and floors would have had mosaic tiling and marble on the walls.” Dino added that the floor plan of the basement would’ve been almost identical to the floor above, which would’ve included Diocletian’s imperial residence. The area was excavated in 1952.

Diocletian Basement and Bust

Dino has Shawn belt out words to test the acoustics of a chamber in the basement. The shape of the ceiling causes the person’s voice to magnify directly back to the speaker’s position. Historians are puzzled by this feature – was it an ancient ‘intercom’ – a way of announcing intruders? On the right, an artist’s interpretation of what Diocletian might have looked like.

Diocletian Gold Coin Replica Basement

An enormous replica of a gold coin hangs on the basement wall.

Mosaic Tile Diocletian Palace

Mosaic tiles undergoing restoration work.

Diocletian Apartment Ruins and Architecture Details

The bell tower of the St. Dominus / Sveti Duje Cathedral (12th Century AD) and octagonal-shaped Mausoleum, where Diocletian was entombed (Late 3rd – Early 4th Century AD). The basement is visible below, as are the upper remains of Diocletian’s imperial residence. On the right, Dino points out the Meander (also known as Greek Key) adorned-border that graces a Roman-era doorway. Meanders were common motifs in Greek and Roman art.

Vestibule Dome Opening Split Croatia

The Vestibule was the entrance to Diocletian’s apartment, and was accessed via the Peristyle. It would’ve originally been adorned with marble slabs, statues and mosaic tile work. The domed ceiling eventually collapsed leaving the opening that lets in glorious sunshine today.

Roman Brickwork inside Vestibule Split Croatia

Roman brickwork inside the Vestibule of Diocletian’s Palace.

Split Peristyle Croatia

The Peristyle. Diocletian’s private quarters would have been accessed through the archway straight ahead. “Emperors, who considered themselves gods, had a need to be adored. In the Peristyle, commoners would’ve prostrated themselves to the emperor. Purple,” Dino added “was the color worn by Roman Emperors, hence the granite columns resembling purple. The white columns represented the commoners’ area.”

Split Mausoleum St. Duje Sphinx

Sphinx sculptures were imported from ancient Egypt to then-Spalatum (Split) by Diocletian. Most of the sculptures were later decapitated by Christians, however, this one near the St. Duje Cathedral remains intact. In the background you can see the Corinthian capitals adorning the columns of Diocletian’s Mausoleum.

Corinthian Style Capital in Split Croatia

Detail of a Corinthian-style capital on a column lining the Peristyle.

St. Duje Dominus Cathedral Belltower Split Croatia

The bell tower of the St. Dominus Cathedral was constructed in the 12th Century and is Romanesque. The bell tower was married with Diocletian’s former mausoleum, which is now a very small cathedral. Given that Diocletian persecuted Christians during his time, it’s ironic that his final resting place was converted into a church that is used for services and weddings today. “Diocletian will be trapped with religion until entirety,” Dino joked.

Interior Mausoleum - St. Duje Cathedral Split

The interior of Diocletian’s former Mausoleum, now the St. Duje Cathedral. On the day of our visit, restoration work was taking place, so there were boards near the ceiling. Note the Roman brickwork and the elaborate reliefs.

Diocletian's Mausoleum in Split Public Domain Drawing

A 3-D View of Diocletian’s Mausoleum as it would’ve looked prior to the construction of the bell tower. Today, only one sphinx remains at the entrance. Image in the public domain, PD-1923.

Jupiter Temple Detail Split Croatia

Detail of the Temple of Jupiter. The building was converted into a baptistery in the Middle Ages. Today it is guarded by a headless sphinx statue.

Jupiter Theater Ceiling Split

The barrel-vaulted ceiling of Jupiter’s Temple, which is divided into 64 panels. “Historians are uncertain why different emotional expressions are depicted on the faces in these panels,” Dino said. “Did they perform rites in the temple? Was the emperor ‘moody?”

Horse Grafitti on Jupiter Temple in Split

Centuries-old graffiti on the front side of Jupiter’s Temple.

Writing carved into Jupiter Temple Wall Split

Jupiter Theater Split Croatia - Detail

Intricate detail of Jupiter’s Temple, carved into white limestone extracted from quarries on the nearby island of Brač.

Street Scenes in Split Croatia 2

Let Me Pass Street (Pusti me da prodjem), considered by some to be the narrowest street in the world. In past centuries, Dino explained, ladies relished the opportunity to pass here, with the hope of bumping into male suitors, or passing notes to them. On the right, water trickles out of a lion head fountain.

Sphinx Head in Split Courtyard and Gate to Palace

A young man walks through the double doors of the Iron Gate (the west entrance) into the palace complex. This gate was known as Porta Ferrea during Roman times. In the image on the right, a 3,500 year-old sphinx head adorns an unassuming building on a quiet residential courtyard. Emperor Diocletian persecuted Christians, and had thousands of them killed. After Diocletian’s death, Christians would show revenge by destroying pagan symbols within his palace, decapitating most of the sphinx sculptures that Diocletian had brought back from Egypt. (Dino explained that they likely didn’t realize that they were from ancient Egypt.) We were fascinated by this Egyptian ‘souvenir’, and wondered how long it’s hung in this unorthodox spot.

Egyptian Sphinx Head in Split Croatia Courtyard

A symphony of caged birds chirped as we admired this original sphinx head. The ancient Egyptian relic contrasted sharply with a pair of neighboring fluorescent pink pajama bottoms, and criss-crossing laundry lines. A neighbor we spoke to said that it was there “for protection.” This had to be one of my favorite finds of the tour!

Street Scenes in Split Croatia

Gregory of Nin Statue and Toe

The bronze statue of Bishop Gregory of Nin, made by Ivan Meštrovic, a celebrated Croatian sculptor and architect. It overlooks the palace wall’s Golden Gate (northern entrance). Local legend says that if you rub the statue’s big toe, it’ll bring you good luck. Our guide, Dino, joked that he’s still waiting for his wish to be granted.

Statue of Gregory of Nin Grgur Ninski in Split

Gregory of Nin strongly opposed the church establishment. In the 10th Century, he called for religious services to be delivered in Croatian, and not in Latin. This move helped make Christianity flourish in the Croatian Kingdom. This statue was originally placed in the Peristyle, but was moved to its current location during World War II.

Split Walking Tour Gregory of Nin Touching Toe,

Shawn makes a wish on the well-polished toe.

Konoba Varos - Split Croatia

The Konoba Varoš, a cozy restaurant that’s popular with Split residents and a few minutes’ walk from the town center.

Restaurant Varos - Split Croatia

The restaurant’s interior has ceilings enveloped with fishnets and walls adorned with maritime –themed paintings. During our visit, it was also decked out for Christmas.

Wine at Restaurant Varos - Split or Spalato, Croatia

Shawn samples a glass of Plavac Mali wine, which is a blend of Zinfandel (Crljenak Kaštelanski) and Dobričić grapes. It’s a type of wine that’s quite popular in Croatia’s Dalmatia region.

ŠKARPINA Red Scorpionfish at Varos Restaurant Split

This tender Red Scorpionfish’s flavor was enhanced by a generous drizzle of Dalmatian olive oil, and a spritz of lemon juice. A plate of grilled eggplant and zucchini was a perfect accompaniment to this Škarpina dish.

Black Cuttlefish Risotto crni rižot at Varos Restaurant Split

Black Cuttlefish Risotto, known in Croatian as Crni Rižot. The scrumptious dish gets its trademark jet-black color from the cuttlefish’s black ink, which helps it evade predators. The light flavor of the cuttlefish paired well with a sauce made of olive oil, garlic and parsley.

Varos-Restaurant-Lunch-Group-Shot

Shawn and I pose with our guide extraordinaire, Dino, at the Konoba Varoš.

Where in the World?

Planning Pointers:

  • For more information on Split and the Central Dalmatia region of Croatia, visit the Central Dalmatia Tourist Board website.
  • 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 three days or more, be sure to pick up a free Split Card, which gives you free entry to certain museums and galleries, and reduced rates to others. If you’ll be in Split for less than three days you can purchase the card for 5 Euro.
  • During our 2+ months spent in Split, 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, and views of Old Town Split below. Owners Novica and Negri were thoughtful citizen ambassadors too.
  • Need more 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.

Photography & text © by Tricia A. Mitchell, with the exception of the public-domain photograph noted above. All Rights Reserved. Video footage is courtesy of my husband, Shawn.

93 Comments on “Inside Diocletian’s Palace: A Walking Tour in Split, Croatia

  1. 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?

    • 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.

  2. 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…

  3. 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.

    • 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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 (bbqboy)

    • 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 (bbqboy)

      • 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… :)
        https://triciaannemitchell.com/croatia/
        Hope you’re enjoying the weekend!

    • 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.

      • 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!

  7. 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…

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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 :-)
        Enjoy!

  10. 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

  11. 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.

    • 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.

  12. 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…

    • 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? :)

  13. 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!

    • 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. :)

  14. Hello Tricia,
    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! :)

    • 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.

  15. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  16. Pingback: Down the Eastern Adriatic: Split - More of the Road

  17. 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.

  18. 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. :)

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