Diocletian’s Palace (Croatia) is an ancient part of the historical center of Split, which in 1979 became part of UNESCO World Heritage. It is the residence of the Roman emperor Diocletian, who ruled almost 18 centuries ago. Today, the palace, surrounded by 20-meter walls and towers, covers an area of more than 3 hectares, and its majestic architecture annually attracts more than 400,000 tourists to Split.
Diocletian’s Palace was built by order of the emperor himself in the Salon, the city where the great ruler was born and spent his childhood. Construction began in the year 295 AD. e., lasted 12 years and ended shortly before the abdication of Diocletian. After this event, the emperor moved to a new residence and replaced his passion for military affairs with gardening.
Interesting fact! The salon was destroyed by a raid of barbarians in the 7th century AD, therefore it is believed that the modern palace of Diocletian is located in Split.
The palace continued to expand even after the death of the ruler, as rural people came to him from different parts of Rome in search of protection from the barbarians. Thus, a chic residence with luxurious decoration turned into a fortress, and the emperor’s mausoleum was turned into a Christian cathedral. Only in the middle of the 19th century, after numerous reconstructions, did the British architect Robert Adam rediscover the fact that the huge complex with churches, commercial warehouses and residential buildings is an ancient temple.
Located in the very center of Split, the temple is the main Catholic center of the city. The most mysterious and ancient sights of Croatia are hidden here – the former mausoleum of Diocletian, the painting “Madonna and Child”, the Gospel of the 6th century and unique entrance doors with pictures of the life of Christ.
Diocletian’s Palace was built on the model of a military camp. It was an architectural complex, closed by high walls, which you could enter only through one of the four gates:
- Golden Gate. It was through this entrance that the main road to the Salon passed, which only Diocletian and his family could use. Located on the north side of the palace.
- Silver. Used to enter from the east. On both sides of the gate are the remains of octagonal towers, where the caretakers were serving, and the oldest sidewalk in Croatia.
- The bronze gates are rightfully considered the most beautiful in all of Split. They are located in the southern part of the palace, near the embankment. Entering through them, tourists enter a large dungeon, which we will talk about a little later.
- The iron gate is the only one that has survived to our time in its original form. They open the entrance to the palace from its western side, on top of the arch of the gate is an image of the goddess of Victory.
Rectangular outside and round inside the lobby impresses tourists to this day. Its huge dome is the most colorful confirmation of the skill of Roman architects, since it was the highest not only in Croatia, but throughout the world until 1960.
One of the few surviving Roman temples of Croatia is located in the western part of Diocletian’s Palace. It was built at the end of the 3rd century by the emperor himself, after which, after 600 years, he was rebuilt into the Baptistery of St. John the Baptist.
Inside the temple are two sarcophagi with the remains of the archbishops of Split – Ivan II and Lawrence, as well as a bronze statue of John the Baptist. Above the cathedral rises an ancient bell tower, which functions to this day.
The central square, surrounded by a stone colonnade, and the heart of Diocletian’s palace. Life here never ceases: in the afternoon, travelers can enjoy interesting performances, and in the evening, dinner in one of the cafes will be especially romantic to the tunes of street musicians. From Peristil offers a great view of the whole of Split, in addition, here you can take a photo with the ancient Romans – disguised artists.
Historical fact! It was Peristyle that played the role of the main hall in the palace of Diocletian – in this square the great emperor met with his warriors and other subjects.
The dungeon of Diocletian’s Palace is one of the oldest complexes of this kind in the whole world. Initially, their construction was not planned – there should have been the emperor’s chambers, but because of the high humidity it was unsafe to live in these rooms. Thanks to this fact, we can find out how the palace itself was built, because the dungeon, the layout of which is identical to the upper floors, is the only part of it that has been preserved in the form in which it was built.
Today, the dungeon hosts popular exhibitions of artists and sculptors of Croatia, theatrical performances, national fairs and other social events. Several years ago it was here that several scenes from the series “Game of Thrones” were filmed.
Useful tips before visiting
- Visit Diocletian’s palace with a guide or read in advance the features of the struggle of the Roman Empire with the spread of Christianity.
- Entrance to some parts of the palace is paid: climbing to the bell tower of the Cathedral costs 20 kunas (3 euros), descent and walk through the underground – 40 kunas. If you want to visit several places at once, say so at the box office and get a discount.
- Souvenirs from kiosks in the palace are more expensive than in other areas of Split, but it is here where you can find unusual handmade figurines and interesting stone gifts.
- Most often, performances in the main square begin at exactly 12 noon.
- At 18:00 on Peristyle, a restaurant opens with live music and unusual amenities – instead of chairs, there are soft grandmothers on the steps.
- In one of the tourist corners located throughout the palace, take a map of the complex so as not to get lost in the abundance of streets.
- If you come to Croatia by car or rent it here, walk to the complex on foot, leaving it 1-2 km from the palace grounds. The problem with parking lots and their prices in this part of Split is more relevant than ever.
Diocletian’s Palace is a unique building, which has no analogues not only in Croatia, but throughout the world. Embark on a journey to the “pearl of Split” – discover the beauty of the Roman Empire. Have a good rest!
Well, a very beautiful video with views of the city of Split. The quality is on top, you must watch 🙂