A historical look at the city of Split

The Croatian city of Split is one of those places that appeals to all sorts of visitors; those who enjoy relaxing in a waterside restaurant, boutique shopping, sunbathing on the beach as well as those who love delving into history. Remnants of Split’s past are not difficult to spot. For starters, Split is centred around a huge palace known as Diocletian’s Palace.

1. Diocletians Palace

Not only is the Palace the hub of the city, packed with shops and restaurants, but it also has an important historical significance. The Palace was first built in the 4th century AD by the Roman emperor, Diocletian. He wanted to create a residence in which he could retire, and an extravagant one at that. The Palace consisted of a luxurious villa, military camp, watch towers and an upper floor promenade all enclosed by substantial walls.

Nowadays the site has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Monument and remains an important part of the city. The Palace is filled with narrow, winding, cobbled streets so it’s worth taking a guided tour so you can see the points of interest within the Palace. However, it’s also worthwhile just having a wander and getting lost in the hustle and bustle.

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Another landmark which is difficult to miss is an enormous sculpture which lies just outside the walls of Diocletian’s Palace called ‘Gregory of Nin’. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the sculpture resembles a giant wizard but it actually depicts the medieval Croatian bishop of Nin. At the time, all religious services were presented in Latin, which was inaccessible to the majority of the population, so Gregory of Nin introduced a national language, much to the opposition of official church circles. This was an important step in the development of Christianity in Croatia and of the Croatian language as a whole.

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The statue is a popular tourist attraction in the city and rubbing the giant toe of the figure is said to bring good luck. You’ll notice that his toe is very smooth and shiny as a result!

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The cathedral and bell tower of Split are also worth a look. The Cathedral of St Domnius is located inside Diocletian’s Palace and consists of three parts; Diocletian’s Mausoleum, a chorus and the Bell Tower. The cathedral is now a popular meeting place and you can climb to the top of the Bell Tower for a couple of euros. If you want a stunning view of the city then this is definitely worth doing.

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Although Split has become increasingly popular among tourists, it still retains its charm and places importance on its historical treasures. The city embraces its Roman architecture by continuing to make use of it in the modern day whilst also making sure it’s preserved. Shops and cafes are nestled into its walls and the courtyards are used for people to meet, listen to live performances and enjoy a drink together.  There’s not many places where you can sit an enjoy a meal in a building which was built in the 4th century AD.

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Emma

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