Our travels in the Balkans: Split

Split - Balkans

If you missed it, read Part Three about Dubrovnik and Part Four about Korcula.

Diocletian’s Palace and Promenading along the Riva

When the catamaran arrived in Split we were met by our apartment host which was just as well. We would have found it near to impossible to find our apartment in the old town which is part of the palace complex. Although the interior had been thoroughly modernized, part of the original wall had been left exposed in one of the rooms, showing its ancient Roman heritage. It’s the oldest apartment we have ever stayed in!

Split - Balkans

It was only about 50 metres from the centre of the palace, near the Cathedral which is both the oldest and smallest Cathedral in the world.

The Cathedral was initially built as a mausoleum for Diocletian (a Roman emperor) in 304 AD but after a life of killing thousands of Christians, he posthumously got his just reward when his mausoleum was converted into a Cathedral in the 8th Century.

Split - Balkans

The palace was built by Diocletian’s slaves, 2,000 of whom died during its construction. Many parts of it are still intact, including the Peristyle or square, the domed entry Vestibule and Jupiter’s Temple which was converted by the Christians into a Baptistery. Walking through these ancient buildings was quite overwhelming.

The Green Market, held every morning just outside the palace, was laden with fruit and vegetables (tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, apricots and avocados are all in season). And we found a 24 hour bakery about 100 metres away. So we again ate very well, with fruit supplementing our daily diet of seafood, pasta or pizza,

One day we walked about 4 km. It was hot (about 30 degrees Celsius by midday) to visit the sculpture gallery of Ivan Mestrovic, the most famous of the modern Croatian sculptors. The gallery and the adjoining sculpture garden was a cool and peaceful oasis.

Split - Balkans

A huge sculpture, also by Ivan Mestrovic, of Bishop Gregory of Nin (who in the tenth century tried to persuade the Vatican to translate the Bible from Latin into Croatian) could also be seen just outside the Golden Gate to the palace.

I was on the lookout for local arts and crafts rather than the myriads of mass produced souvenirs, often made in China. So to find a little shop (Filigran Split) run by a family who are carrying on the tradition of painstakingly creating silver filigree jewellery by hand was special. The price of their exquisite rings, pendants and brooches is calculated by weight. I took home a pair of earrings for a special birthday present.

Split - Balkans

The modern part of Split is the Riva, a pedestrian only zone along the seafront. This area is relatively new as originally there was no gap between the Emperor’s Palace and the sea. As it stayed light until about 9 pm this was a great place to spend each evening sitting on a bench below a palm tree and watching the passing parade.

Look out tomorrow for the final installment about Zagreb. 


By Lyn Potter

Parent and grandparent, Avid traveller, writer & passionate home cook

Read more by Lyn here.