- walking tour – Diocletian Palace, Riva, Ivan Mestrovic statue
- Temple of Jupiter
- Cathedral of Saint Domnius
Our third port of call, Split, the second largest city of Croatia lying on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. Once again, we went on a walking tour through the bustling UNESCO World Heritage city. The city is a mixture of traditional and modernity with bars, restaurants and shops amid the old walls with impressive Roman monuments.
The main attraction of Split is the World Heritage Site, Diocletian’s Palace built as a retirement palace for the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 4th century AD and forms about half the old town. It is more like a walled town enclosing a mass of Roman ruins and medieval churches and shops, bars and stylish boutiques. The massive structure resembles a large fortress with towers projecting from the western, northern, and eastern facades with huge gates and watchtowers.
There are well preserved subterranean portions of the palace because of the sloping terrain and for many centuries were completely filled with refuse which feature barrel vaulted stonework and at present house a small market selling jewellery and other tourist paraphernalia.
An enormous court, called the Peristyle, formed the Northern access to the imperial apartments.
It also gave access to Diocletian’s mausoleum on the East (today the Cathedral of Saint Domnius) and to three temples on the West (two of which are now lost, with the third, originally being the temple of Jupiter, becoming a baptistery).There is also a temple just to the west of the Peristyle called The Temple of Aesculapius, which has a semi-cylindrical roof built of stone blocks.
The Palace was decorated with twelve 3500-year-old granite sphinxes plundered from Egypt but only three have survived the centuries. The only intact one is on the Peristyle, the second sits headless in front of Jupiter’s temple, and a third is housed in the city museum.
Just outside the Palace’s southern walls is a very wide waterfront seaside promenade known as the Riva where people sit and watch the world go by.
Outside of the Golden Gate on the northern wall of the Palace is the towering 6m-high bronze statue of Gregory of Nin, a medieval bishop regarded as a hero by the Croats. His big toe is very shiny because people rub it for good luck.
Temple of Jupiter originally dedicated to the Ancient Roman god Jupiter but is now the cathedral’s baptistery. It is located in the western part of Diocletian’s Palace near the Peristyle, the central square of the imperial complex. It was built between 295 and 305. Before the entrance to the Temple is one of the twelve sphinxes brought from Egypt by Emperor Diocletian, but is now defaced, and above the entrance are reliefs depicting gods and various heroes. Inside the Temple is a large bronze statue of St John the Baptist and a crypt dedicated to St. Thomas.
Cathedral of Saint Domnius is a Roman octagonal cathedral and was built as a mausoleum for Diocletian (the last famous persecutor of the Christians). Inside the cathedral, the domed interior has two rows of Corinthian columns and an absolutely stunning frieze running high up on the walls. The pulpit, altar and vault decorated with murals are also a highlight. Just as you leave the wooden entrance doors there are 28 remarkable scenes from the life of Christ. There is a tall Romanesque bell tower which was constructed between the 13th and 16th centuries but was closed for renovations.