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Split, Diocletian's Beautiful Retirement Spa

© By Adam Southwood
  Panoramic View Split is set on a peninsula that juts into the Adriatic. In 295 AD, Roman emperor, Diocletian, decreed that an enormous palace be built there, and the heart of the city remains inside the ancient walls. Inside his 30,000 square meter "villa," Diocletian was content to garden and enjoy the last ten years of his life. With a population of 200,000 modern Split, the second largest city in Croatia, is a vibrant and sometimes hectic tourist and economic center. Residents proudly refer to this coastal city as the most beautiful in the world.
     Diocletian was on to something. The mild climate with plenty of sun makes it a tourist oasis, the warmest part of the north coast of the Mediterranean. Split has become the industrial, academic and economic center of Dalmatia, and the Diocletian Palace has been recognized as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage centre.
     The walnut tree doors to the Split Cathedral, the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world, a part of which was build on the Emperor Diocletian's mausoleum, were fashioned by Andrija Buvina in 1214 and recorded in the history of the European Romanic wood sculpture. Split also enjoys the Split Cathedral Treasury containing a valuable collection of sacral art, the Ethnographic Museum established in 1910, the Historical & Maritime Museum and the Museum of Natural History. Within the former imperial palace, Split has the smallest and narrowest street in the world called "Let Me Through" because two people cannot pass each other by on it.
     The Dalmation region has produced great painters such as Emanuel Vidovic, one of the most famous Croatian painters from the late 19th century and the early 20th century, and Ivan Mestrovic, originally from Otavice near Drnis, whose works adorn museums and galleries across the world. In addition to the series of his artworks exhibited in the Mestrovic Gallery, his monument to Bishop Grgur Ninski situated next to the north entrance to the Diocletian Palace is particularly impressive. According to a legend, if you touch his big toe, your wishes will come true.
     Several theaters are active in Split, including the Croatian National Theater built in 1893 and the Split Summer and Marulic Days theater festivals along with a Youth Theater and the Split Puppet Theater.
     Usually, the squares, restaurants and cafés are full of people. There is a Summer Festival of opera, drama, music and ballet on city squares, streets and the ancient area, featuring world famous artists and conductors. There is also a pop music festival, a street performers festival, the Flower Holiday (an attractive contest between florists held in the attractive cellars of the Diocletian Palace), the Art Summer and harmony singing and folklore events. The Marulic Days and the Book of the Mediterranean are held outside the season, while the traditional events include the Holiday of St. Cross, the Flower Fair, the Split Ball, the wine fair, etc. The City Day is celebrated on May 7 on the Holiday of St. Duje, the city's guardian. The cellars in the Diocletian Palace have recently become a venue for Dalmatian evening concerts.

City Centre - Church & Market  City Centre - Church & Market  Aerial View of City  Aerial View of City  Quiet Oasis  Sailboats 

     Brac, the biggest island of the Split archipelago, is slowly becoming a suburb of Split. Centre of the famous white stone carving tradition, stone is still produced in the local quarries. Brac stone was used to make the Croatian Parliament Building and the new courthouse in Vienna, the Parliament in Budapest, the Diocletian Palace and the cathedrals in Trogir and Sibenik. Brac also boasts a remarkable monastery, Pustinja Blaca, built by Glagolitic monks fleeing from the Turks in 1550. With its telescope and a concert piano shipped in from Vienna, the monastery still tells stories of the culturally rich medieval life on the island.
     Split is the third largest port in the Mediterranean in terms of passenger and vehicle traffic and well connected with the world by sea, land and air. Boats connecting the Split region with the nearby islands and Rijeka, Korcula and Dubrovnik operate on a daily basis. Overseas connections with Ancona and Pescara connect the two coasts throughout the year by ferries and fast catamarans, getting you from Italy to Split in only 3.5 hours.
     Split has the biggest international airport in the Adriatic, and is directly connected with dozens of European cities. During the summer, over 40 international airlines land on its runway. The railroad offers daily connections with Zagreb. After the completion of the motorway, Zagreb is now only 3.5 hours away.
     The center of the region, Split has received kings and rulers from the entire world for centuries. Because of its attractiveness, it has been visited by film, theater, music and entertainment stars. Diocletian made a wise choice.

Adam Southwood writes for Canadian, U.S. and European magazines and newspapers. He is a graduate of both McMaster University in Hamilton and UWO in London with an interest in culture and history. He has produced several educational programs for TV.

Photo Credits
Croatian National Tourist Board

If you go
Split, Croatia
as seen on
Split: www.visitsplit.com
Brac: www.otokbrac.com/
Croatian National Tourist Board: http://www.htz.hr/English/default.aspx
Dalmatia - Split: www.dalmatia.hr
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split,_Croatia
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Split

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/


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