The story of Split is already 17 centuries old, dating to the time the Roman Emperor Diocletian decided to build his Palace right on the peninsula near the great Roman city Salona, where he wanted to spend the last years of his life. During these 1700 years the Palace slowly turned into a city, which to this day lures with its rich tradition, glorious history and beauty of its natural and cultural heritage. A walk through the ancient city takes you through time, along the great examples of ancient architecture like Peristyle, the middle aged Romanesque Church and Gothic Palace, Renaissance portals of the noblemen’s houses, Baroque facades and modern architecture superbly merged in the rich heritage. Split is also a venue for excellent gourmet and vine experiences and numerous cultural happenings.
When you tire of the city bustle, there’s Marjan, hill symbol over the city, with its forest, jogging trails, mountain climbing and biking, recreational terrains, but also the ancient churches where the late citizens of Split sought spiritual peace. Also very unusual to find in a city the size of Split are the numerous beaches with extraordinarily clean sea, from the well-known Bačvice to the stone secluded oases’ all around Marjan.
Facing the harbor, Diocletian’s Palace is one of the most imposing Roman ruins in existence and where you’ll spend most of your time while in Split. Don’t expect a palace though, nor a museum – this is the city’s living heart, its labyrinthine streets packed with people, bars, shops and restaurants. The palace was built from lustrous white stone from the island of Brač, and construction lasted 10 years. Diocletian spared no expense, importing marble from Italy and Greece, and columns and sphinxes from Egypt. Each wall has a gate named after a metal: at the northern end is the Golden Gate, while the southern end has the Bronze Gate. The eastern gate is the Silver Gate and to the west is the Iron Gate.
Just beyond the palace walls are two city landmarks made by sculptor Ivan Meštrović; the medieval bishop Grgur Ninski guards the Golden Gate and the literary scholar Marko Marulić watches over the Square of Radić brothers just off Riva.