Things to see and do - Split
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Split, the imperial city :
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Split, the imperial city
Split, the imperial cityPedestrian, 9 km, 2 days
Split is your ideal starting point for taking a boat to explore the most beautiful islands of the Adriatic. This ancient Roman city has an exceptional Imperial palace as well as a charming old quarter that lends itself to beautiful walks in the fishing quarter in particular.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
The palace interior was designed to a cruciform plan, with access via the decumanus and the cardo. The north wing housed soldiers and servants; the south wing contained the peristyle, temples and the imperial apartments. The interior configuration of the emperor's quarters can be imagined by visiting the underground chambers, as the two layouts were similar. The ethnographic museum, containing a collection of traditional Dalmatian costumes, is a must for visitors.
This magnificent peristyle is lined with colonnades on three sides. To the south, they opened onto the Emperor's apartments. The entrance porch, framed by two 16C-17C chapels, can still be seen. To the east, the colonnade houses a sphinx (15C BC) brought back by Diocletian from his Egyptian campaign (297-98). Finally, to the west, Luxor café is a perfect example of how the palace's architecture has evolved: the Renaissance façade is 15C, but inside the circular outline of the Temple of Venus is clearly visible.
Temple of Jupiter
The fourth palace gate, to the west, became the most important from the 16C when the Venetian district grew in size. It was then the meeting point between the palace town and the new district. Swamped by later constructions, its double-entrance security system remains and it gives an idea of the immensity of the palace's walls. The guards lived above the outer door. In the Middle Ages, it was the only door, with that of the port, to remain open.
You will need to move back a little to admire the scope of this façade. It was the most important of the four façades, because it was the first seen by travellers arriving from Salona. Its towers have since crumbled, but their position can be guessed. Note the richly carved Golden Door. In the 12C, a tiny chapel of St Martin was built above it. The statue is of Gregory of Nin who requested that Croatian instead of Latin be used during services in 929. Behind is a steeple, one of the last vestiges of a Benedictine convent.
The 215m-long eastern façade of the palace of Diocletian is still intact and will give you an idea of the proportions of this edifice built beginning in 298. It has retained its two square corner towers (the southeast one is intact), and the Silver Gate, bricked up in the Middle Ages and reopened and restored after the Second World War. On the opposite side of the road, the massive block of Contarini bastion was built during the Venetian period (17C) as protection against the Turks.
It is thought that these underground rooms housed the slaves. In the Middle Ages, the rooms were filled with materials moved out of the way to build the palace apartments. Cleared out in 1956, they revealed amazingly thick walls and lovely vaulted ceilings. Their location has enabled experts to imagine the layout of the imperial apartments above. The central section leads from the Bronze Gate to the palace peristyle. Today it is the scene of arts and crafts stalls.
Cathedral of St Domnius
This modern, almost entirely glazed building contains the remains of Croatia's medieval heritage, mainly from the Romanesque era. Fragments of chancel screens, baldaquins, lintels, altars and sarcophagi, dating from 9C-10C, are exhibited in a room full of light, providing an insight into the scope and breadth of Romanesque decorative arts.
Many people still refer to the square as the Fruit Square, because it was here that the huge fruit and vegetable market was held up until the 1960s. Today Milesi palace, north side, an 18C Baroque building, can still be seen. You will also see Ivan Meštrovic's statue of the poet, Marko Marulic (1450-1524), who was born in Split. Finally look out for the Venetian castel (1435) which was part of the defence system created under the Venetians to withstand the Turks.
Square of the People
This attractive square is lined with Baroque palaces dating from the Venetian era, built on the flanks of the hillside. Admire their lovely carved skylights and take the time to contemplate the mid-16C former town hall (Gradska vijecnica). Destroyed by Allied bombardments in 1943, it was rebuilt exactly as it was before, with shaded arcades and a loggia (today glazed), where official declarations were made in former times.
This view point is next to the terrace of the Vidilica Caffe. It commands a unique point of view of the port, the Riva and the palace and campanile which stand out from the jungle of buildings in the new town. In the distance are two mountain ranges, Mosor, on the right and Kozjak, to the left. Between them stands the citadel of Klis on a rocky outcrop. Behind the café is a Jewish cemetery. The outline of the island of Brac can be seen off the coast.