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In preparation for his retirement in 305AD, Roman Emperor Diocletian built a vast fortified palace on Split’s southern shore. During its decade-long construction, Italian marble and Egyptian artefacts were imported to help make it a truly luxurious residence. Today, more than 1700 years later, this grand Roman structure still stands as an integral part of this ancient city. A leisurely walk along the modern waterfront brings you to its imposing stone walls, now lined with busy shops and cafés. Head through the Bronze Gate entrance and explore the labyrinth of streets and courtyards humming with the exuberant buzz of daily life.
Cathedral of St. Domnius:
At the heart of Diocletian’s Palace is the octagonal Cathedral of St. Domnius, encircled by 24 original columns. Formerly the Emperor’s mausoleum, it was converted into a church during the fifth century and dedicated to Saint Domnius, one of the persecuted Christians of Diocletian’s reign. Venture inside its domed interior to admire its intricate frieze, the St Anastasius altar featuring The Flagellation of Christ and the thirteenth century wooden carvings on the Buvina doors. Ascend to the top of the bell tower for fantastic views over the palace rooftops, then head to the Temple of Jupiter - now the cathedral’s baptistery - to view the black granite sphinx and bronze statue of St John the Baptist.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a trip to Marjan Hill. Here, on the western tip of the Split peninsula, you can walk, cycle or climb through dense Mediterranean pine forest before emerging onto pebble beaches and crystal clear waters. Spend an hour relaxing in tranquility, then head south to explore the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments and Meštrović Gallery. Discover the area’s impressive cultural heritage as well as the celebrated works of sculptor Ivan Meštrović.
Around 10 miles northeast of Split harbour is a dramatic fortress built into a limestone rock face. Game of Thrones fans will recognise it as the city of Meereen, though its non-fictional past boasts an equally battle-scarred story. Founded by the Illyrians during the second century BC, it was inhabited by armies and monarchs of the Romans, Turks and Venetians before returning to Dalmatian rule. Learn its fascinating history in the onsite museum then marvel at the breathtaking views as you imagine the grandeur of its glory days.