"Stari Grad - the Old City" Top 5 Page for this destination Diocletian's Palace Tip by TheWanderingCamel
Diocletian's Palace, Split: 96 reviews and 214 photos
Is there another city in the world with such a unique heart? Split's Stari Grad is the only one I know of that is actually built within the walls of a Roman emperor's palace.
Long before sun-seeking 21st century tourists decided that the Adriatic coast of Croatia was a little piece of Paradise, Dalmatian-born Diocletian, decided a summer palace in his home territory was just what he needed, and a site near the Roman city of Salona, (now a ruin on the outskirts of Split) was just the place. Roman emperors being given to notions of grandeur, the palace he built was sufficiently splendid for him to decide he would retire there, and he then went a step further and built a magnificent mausoleum for himself within the walls. Successive emperors made use of the palace for the next couple of hundred years but it gradually fell into abandoned decay before time, and invading tribes from the north, saw the palace become a refuge for the citizens of Salona in 615. They took over the grand apartments of the nobility, the kitchens, the stables and all the other supporting areas of the old palace and gradually subsumed the crumbling grandeur into the warren of an early mediaeval city.
Whilst most of Diocletian's palace is now lost in the maze of narrow streets and houses that cram the old city, there is still plenty of evidence of its Roman origins to be seen as you explore the area within the walls.
Guided tours are offered but, for my money, the greatest pleasure is to be had exploring the narrow street and alleyways on your own. It's small enough for you not to get truly lost but you will surely lose yourself in time as you wander through the deeply shaded streets and brightly sunlit squares, the stone pavement polished by centuries of passersby beneath your feet. All around you the city's history is written on the walls, in courtyards and privates places
glimpsed through dorways. Roman brick and marble sit side by side with mediaeval stone, the palaces of once-great families back onto crammed-together shops and houses. Upper storey windows open onto rooftop vistas and a climb to the top of the belltower gives you a
bird's eye view of the whole city.
Directions: Look out for the large posters on the Riva (the sea-side promenade) that show how the palace looked in its heyday.
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