Split is the second largest city in Croatia, with just over 200,000 inhabitants, and is the largest city on the Adriatic coast. Located on the eastern shore of the Adriatic, between the wooded slopes of Marjan Hill to the west, and rocky beaches of the pictoresque willages to the east, overlooking middle Adriatic islands on the horizon, Split is the pulsating heart of the Dalmatian coast.
Split was founded more than 1700 years and built around the palace of the roman emperor Diocletian. The Emperor Diocletian built his retirement palace here and large sections of it still survive today. As the legend has it, Diocletian, after his surprise abdication he came to Split and spent his twilight years growing prize cabbages, apparently he found it most therapeutic after a lifetime of hard campaigning. He dragged his co-Augustus Maximus unwillingly into retirement with him. However Maximus couldn’t adjust to a retired lifestyle after his spell in the imperial sun so he returned to join in the civil war that resulted in Constantine becoming single Emperor and founding Constantinople. Today, the palace – historical center of the city – is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the world's most famous and richest urban melting pots of historical and cultural influences. The ruins of Diocletian's Palace, built between the late 3rd and the early 4th centuries A.D., can be found throughout the city. The cathedral was built in the Middle Ages, reusing materials from the ancient mausoleum. Twelfth- and 13th-century Romanesque churches, medieval fortifications, 15th-century Gothic palaces and other palaces in Renaissance and Baroque style make up the rest of the inner city centre.
Split's culture and ambient is defined by it's long history. Although, a 1700-year old open-air museum by it's self, Split boasts a number of famous museums and cultural attractions. Visitr the rich Archeological museums, catch a ballet company rehearsing for the summer festival in one of the spacious public squares or listen to locals singing age-old Adriatic melodies on the Riva. See an open air concert, or one of many summer festivals. Explore the narrow cobblestone alleys. Just a few minustes of walking distance away you can find the oldest, but also the smallest Catholic functioning cathedral in the world, but also world’s second-oldest continually functioning Sephardic synagogue. Not far away is one of the largest and oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe, but also Europe's narrowest street. Take a stroll along Riva, a broad seaside thoroughfare in the lee of the palace walls. Benches litter the shore, next to mega yachts and tour boats, sheltered by rows of palm trees.
What to see?
Diocletian's Palace (UNESCO heritage site)
The historic centre of Split is built around the remains of this Roman palace. You only need to wander around to experience it but you can also pay to visit the excavated remains of the basement of the palace. The palace has well preserved main streets cardo and decumanus. Roman palace is enriched with some gothic and reinassance buildings which makes a perfect match. Palace has 4 monumental gates Porta Aurea (Zlatna vrata, Golden gate), Porta Argenta (Srebrna vrata, Silver gate), Porta Ferrea (Željezna vrata, Iron gate) and Porta Aenea (Mjedena vrata). It is probably the best preserved Roman palace in general.
St. Duje's cathedral
Originally built around 305 AD as a mausoleum of Roman emperor Diocletian's (the oldest cathedral building in the world). Cathedral is also a very beautiful mixture of Roman temple and Catholic church. It also has a beautiful belltower which provides you a great panoramic view of Split, nearby islands and Marjan hill.
Peristil square (Peristylium)
Main square of Diocletian's palace with well preserved Roman architecture. Peristil was meant to be used by the Diocletian and the cult of the living son of Jupiter. The emperor made appearances under the arch of the central part of Vestibul entrance. His subjects approached him adoringly and either kneeled to kiss the hem of his purple cloak or prostrated themselves in front of him. The red color of the granite pillars further emphasizes the ceremonial function of the place. Since the emperor Diocletian\'s time purple is the imperial color.With the construction of the new city square with the city hall (Pjaca) in between the 13th and the 14th century, Peristil became more of a religious center. From its western side it is bordered by the palaces of local noble families Grisogono and Cipci, that lean on its authentic columns and arches. Due to their Renaissance and Gothic architecture they are a monuments in their own right. Because of its unique beauty and specific acoustics, Peristil became a famous theatre scene, almost custom made for opera classics (Verdi's AIDA) and Greek tragedies (Antigona, King Edip).
Trg Republike (Republic Square) is a large, open square surrounded on three sides by a collection of elaborate neo-Renaissance buildings known as the Prokurative. On the southern side, the square opens up to a lovely view of the harbour. Construction of the Prokurative started during the latter half of the 19th century under the supervision of General Marmont, with the buildings inspired largely by the architecture of the same period in Venice. While relatively unoccupied in the cooler months, the square comes alive in the summer with concerts and cultural events, the most popular being the Entertainment Musical Festival of Split.
Ancient Roman temple which became St. John's church. The Temple of Jupiter was constructed around the same time Diocletian's Palace was completed, around 3rd-4th Century. It is one of the best preserved Roman temples. By the 13th Century the temple was used as a baptistery. On the side of the temple is one of Split's famous and narrowest streets, "Pusti me proć." (Let me pass).
People's square (Narodni trg)
On the western side of the palace is the Narodni trg on which is the old town hall, which was built in the 15th century. The town hall houses an ethnographic museum (worth visiting) which was established in 1910. nearby is a city museum.
Let Me Pass (Pusti me da prodjem) Street
South of the Jupiter’s temple there’s a passage officially named “Kraj svetog Ivana” (Close to St.John’s). This is the narrowest street in Split, also known as the “Pusti me da prodjem” (Let Me Pass) street. It is only about 70 cm wide.
Two original Egyptian sphinxes
One is located on Peristil square, and the other in front of Jupiter's temple or St. John's church. They were brought from Egypt by Roman emperor Diocletian.
Riva is the main city promenade. Since 2007. Riva has a new, "modern" look, which is not accepted by most of the people.
...a hill situated on the west of Split. Marjan is an oasis for many people who look for a natural stress relief, a great place for long walks, jogging, and bike rides. Marjan's peak, Telegrin is 174 m high and gives a wonderful panoramic view of Split. South cliffs are popular within alpine climbers. St. Nicholas church is situated on the east of Marjan, on it's south side are beautiful St. Jeronimus church and "Gospe od Betlema" church (Madonna of Betlehem). House building is strictly forbidden in order to save Marjan - the lungs of Split.
Grgur Ninski Statue
This imposing statue of Grgur Ninski - Gregory of Nin - by Ivan Mestrovic commemorates the 10th century bishop who fought to hold religious services in the Croatian language. It once occupied the Peristyle but is now located just outside the north gate of the Diocletian Palace complex.
One of the oldest parts of town. A place where lived most of the city peasants and fishermen. Charming streets and and beautiful small houses.
Croatian National Theater
As in Zagreb, the National Theatre in Split played a vital role in the promotion of the Croatian language while the country was still ruled from elsewhere. This venerable institution opened in 1893, first at Dobroma, before this imposing edifice was built decades later. Early performances featured troupes from Italy while a local theatrical culture developed. Today the HNK not only stages Croatian-language theatre, but also foreigner-friendly opera and ballet. It's a major venue during the Split Summer Festival.
The Gallery was founded on a donation from Ivan Mestrovic. It was opened in 1952 in the building Ivan Mestrovic had built according to his own plans from 1931 to 1939. The buildinq was intended as a combination of residential quarters, exhibition halls and ateliers for artists. The largest collection of Mestrovic's works from all of his phases is deposited in the Gallery. Bronze sculptures are on display in the park. Artworks out of marble, stone, wood, bronze, oil paintings and an assortment of drawings are on display in the halls of the gallery.
Poljud stadium known to locals as "Poljudska Ljepotica" (Poljud Beauty")is a second largest stadium in Croatia and has a capacity of 36,000 people. The stadium was originally constructed by the Yugoslavian government as part of the facilites for the 1979 Mediterannean Games and was oficially opened by Josip Broz Tito, who was avowed fan of the team who play their home games in Poljud HNK Hajduk Split. By far the most important and revered sports team in Dalmatia, a dedicatet fanbase around the world has followed Hajduk throughout the team's history. There are numerous anecdotes about Hajduk never played without at least some of their loyal fans in the stands, the Torcida. It is the oldest supporters group in Europe.
Where & what to eat?
Croatia's coastal cuisine is unique in that most of its produce is organic and Split’s location on the Dalmatian Coast makes it a great seafood destination.
The tradition of grilling and roasting fish and delicacies of the sea has been carried down from generation to generation, where the taste of the fish depends on the grilling technique and the type of wood chosen. There is also the Dalmatian olive oil method of cooking, gradelavanje, which gives the fish a particular and fantastic taste. All along the coast and the isles, the fish menus are unrivalled - even the humble sardine will never taste quite so delicious. Many Croatian fish restaurants have their own fishing boats, so you can be assured of the freshness of the fish.
Konoba is the Croatian word for “cellar,” as in wine cellar - now used to describe a tavern-style restaurant serving up traditional food and drink. Picture dimly lit rooms with stone walls, wooden benches and folk art.
The most famous local delicates is Soparnik. It originates from nearby Poljica region (formerly known as Poljička Republika or Republic of Poljica). It is a dough filled with mangold vegetable and baked on fireplace. On top comes olive oil and garlic. You can find it on Pazar (green market).
Italian influences dominate on Croatia's coast, amongst the best are; Risotto with tender white scampi or black calamari, a dish beloved by all Croatians. A wide selection of salumi, magnificent Istrian and Dalmatian hams (Dalmatinski pršut - comparable to Parma or Speck) and cheese from the island of Pag, are well worth trying, as are the large varieties of excellent Croatian wines and beers.
Do not miss Dalmatian pašticada s njokama (Gnocchi).
Croatia's coastal cuisine is unique in that most of its produce is organic.
What to buy?
You can find many souvenir shops with original souvenirs of stone, sea sponges, Croatian olive oil, and wines. You can also find a terrific collection of ceramic product and traditional jewelry.
Lavander - Croatian lavender is already a brand and for sure one of the Croatia’s most wanted and quality souvenir.
As such it represents Croatia all over the world. You can find lavender in everything from chocolate to fragrant beauty products.
Olives - Olive trees and olive oil are occupying a special place on Dalmatian coast.
Everywhere you go you’ll be surrounded by olive trees, very well known for its symbolic – hope, peace, eternity, holiness, splendor and of course – the magnificence of Mediterranean.
Wine - In Dalmatia, the Greeks and Romans first started growing vines, and Croats continue and improve it.
The entire history of Dalmatia is closely connecting with the production of wine, literary, artistic, economic and political.Winemaking represents the main branch of production in Dalmatia, half of the population engaged in agricultural breeding stock. Processing of grapes is done in modern wineries and cellars.
Dalmatian wines are the best quality because of the abundance of soil crag and solar heat. The most famous sorts from this area are Plavac mali and Pošip.