The Split Information Office handed out (or did hand out) free copies called “Discover Split” with a map insert. I found this numbered map to be invaluable. The map told a little about each important historical and cultural place of interest inside Emperor Diocletian’s Palace, built for the Emperor’s retirement. Diocletian certainly picked the right spot since Split is located in the warmest region of the northern Mediterranean coast. A mild climate, along with 2,700 hours of sun per year, made it ideal for Diocletian (or you), even in the dead of winter.
We began our walking tour at the East Wall with its Silver Gate, closest to Hotel Luxe. Diocletian’s Palace was not only one of the most imposing Roman ruins in existence but also served as a fortress. The Palace itself was begun around 298 A.D. and took 10 years to complete. Each main gate (Brass Gate, Silver Gate, Gold Gate, Iron Gate) was located in the center of each outside wall. Inside, two main streets created four quarters.
FYI: This walking tour article includes only the sights we found the most interesting:
- Go East past the Silver Gate. Make a left along the North wall heading towards the Golden Gate and enter. Next to the small courtyard is what was left of little Church of St. Martin. This 5-6th century church was built in a guard passage over the Golden Gate, probably for the guard’s use. Only about 4 feet wide, it may be the smallest church in the world.
- Down the Majstora Jurja, turn right on Rodriina and Zidovski where the Synagogue is located (read article on 8/30/12); continue to the Iron Gate, the principal link between the Palace and new medieval suburb to the West. Our Lady of the Bell Tower was founded in the 6th century. Under under Byzantine rule, the chapel was consecrated to St Theodore, patron saint of soldiers. The bell tower, built in 1100, is the oldest Romanesque bell tower in Dalmatia.
Walking back and forth with aid of the map, we noticed some details previously unnoticed. For example, the Town Hall connected to Church of St. Lawrence was built as a bridge between it and the Karepic Palace in 1455. Without this sign, who would have known? Not us…
- The Jupiter Temple led to the Peristil/Peristyle, a colonnaded courtyard whose original purpose was to allow access to the Emperor’s apartment, mausoleum and temples. Around the perimeter of the Peristyle was: The Tourist Office (“I”) inside 13th century Church of St. Roche; Luxor Cafe with the base of Temple of Venus marked on the round marble floor as you enter; climb to the top of the St. Duje/St. Domnius Cathedral bell tower for 10 KN; and Diocletian’s mausoleum inside the gorgeous Cathedral of St. Duje/St. Domnius (no videos or photographs allowed, but I did see people taking photos whenever a guard looked away).
Yes…there was still more!