Split … Diocletian’s Palace: Croatia’s answer to Pompeii

Diocletian’s Palace in the heart of Split is the heart of Split. Locals today not only work within the ruins of the two-thousand-year old Roman palace but also live within them. Not so palatial these days, the site is now a labyrinth of attractive alleyways lined with restaurants, shops and apartments albeit housed in some of the best preserved and reconstructed Roman ruins found outside Italy.

The Peristil, the two-thousand-year-old courtyard to the stunningly preserved living quarters of Diocletian's Palace

The beautifully preserved entrance to Emperor Diocletian’s living quarters via the Peristil, the two-thousand-year-old courtyard to the palace …

Diocletian's Palace has been well preserved but has also seen many alterations and adaptations for the later, less regal occupants of the palace

… and some modern-day living quarters within the ruins. Diocletian’s Palace has been well preserved in parts but has also seen many alterations and adaptations over the past millennium since the Romans moved out and the Christians moved in

One of many alleyways to be explored within the grounds of Diocletian's Palace

One of many alleyways to be explored within the grounds of Diocletian’s Palace

Split Diocletian's Palace, Golden Gate end narrow alley looking up at window

Double-glazing: yes. Satellite dish: thankfully a no

Double-glazing: yes. Satellite dish: thankfully no

Light and airy clearly not everyone's cup of tea with some of the large, arched Roman windows bricked up to make smaller, modern windows to apartments within the ruins

‘Light and airy’ apartments are clearly not everyone’s cup of tea in Split. Arched Roman windows within the perimeter walls of the palace have been bricked up over the centuries to make smaller, more convenient modern apartment windows

The ruins of the palace offer a stunning backdrop to modern life in Split today, and nowhere can this be observed better than by the four original Roman gates to the palace.

The 'Silver' Gate to Diocletian's Palace leading to the Perstil via the outdoor, artisan market

The ‘Silver’ Gate to Diocletian’s Palace hosting this outdoor market

OK, cheap souvenirs can also be bought here whilst gazing at the stunning structure and detail of the gate

Split Diocletian's Palace, Silver Gate outer side

Leading into Diocletian's Palace via the Iron Gate to the west surrounded by a fine array of restaurants

The ‘Iron’ Gate surrounded by a fine array of restaurants and boutique shops

Split Diocletian's Palace, Iron Gate inner side looking up at clock face

The 'Bronze' Gate (by night), easily missed from the Riva - the glamorous modern boulevard running between the palace and the harbour - due to the latter-day shop extensions hiding it from either side.

The ‘Bronze’ Gate, easily missed due to the latter-day shop extensions hiding it on either side. By the way, this photo was taken at night where a nearby neon street light coincidentally gave the gate a bronze-like hue. It isn’t really bronze in colour

The 'Bronze' Gate leads into the palace's basement halls filled with stands selling locally made handicrafts and more sophisticated souvenirs

The ‘Bronze’ Gate leads into the original palace’s basement halls filled today with stands selling local art, handicrafts and more sophisticated souvenirs

Split Diocletian's Palace, Cellars Peristil end looking up at ceiling

The most impressive and best preserved gate to the palace: the 'Golden' Gate

The most impressive and best preserved gate to the palace: the ‘Golden’ Gate

The 'Golden' Gate was originally the main entrance to the palace

The ‘Golden’ Gate was originally the main entrance to the palace …

... and the most decorative of the four gates

… and the most decorative

Split Diocletian's Palace, Golden Gate outer side detail arch looking up close up

Ok, so some locals do actually dress up like Romans for the amusement of passing tourists

I wasn’t sure whether these two gentlemen were locals dressed up as Romans for the amusement of tourists, or two lost visitors separated from their stag party

The emperor Diocletian believed his life was constantly under threat by assassins and to appease his paranoia he ordered vast halls to be built between his living and sleeping quarters. If an assassin tried to approach the emperor’s quarters, the assassin’s presence would echo through the adjacent hall alerting the emperor of the impending threat. One will never know whether this early example of a security alarm was effective in keeping Diocletian alive (it is believed Diocletian himself ended his life), but the acoustics of the halls were never in doubt. Even the remains of these halls have great acoustic qualities. Local buskers use every inch of these hallways today to enhance their performances of traditional Dalmatian klapa music; melancholic folk songs and deep, masculine harmonies reverberate daily around the ruins to the delight of passing tourists.

These Klapa performers sang of their delight and luck on finding a free corner within the palace to perfom

These klapa performers sang passionately about their relief on finding a free corner within the palace to perform that day

Traditional klapa singing inside the palace vestibule ...

Traditional klapa singing inside the palace vestibule …

... traditional klapa selling inside the palace vestibule

… traditional klapa selling inside the palace vestibule

The acoustics of the palace vestibule may well be a treat to the ear by day, but by night this rounded hallway still relatively intact since the days of Diocletian, is an utter feast for the eyes.

Inside Diocletian's vestibule respectfully lit by night, looking out towards the Peristil

Inside Diocletian’s vestibule respectfully lit at night, looking out towards the Peristil

Split Diocletian's Palace, Diocletian quarters roof and doorway out to Perstil night

The top of the belfry peeking over the oculus of the vestibule's domed roof

The top of the belfry peeking over the oculus of the vestibule’s domed roof

It would be most apt if that speck of light seen through the palace oculus is Jupiter. Diocletian believed he was the reincarnation of Jupiter, Roman God of the sky

It would be most apt if that speck of light seen through the palace oculus is Jupiter. Diocletian believed he was the reincarnation of Jupiter, Roman God of the sky

Split Diocletian's Palace, Diocletian quarters doorway looking out at Perstil from further in, night

The entrance to the vestibule by night

The entrance to the vestibule via the Peristil, by night

The neighbouring Romanesque belfry

The neighbouring Romanesque belfry

Split Diocletian's Palace, Peristil face night close up

Entrance to the grounds of Diocletian’s Palace is free and opened day and night. Access into most of the protected buildings within the grounds like the Cathedral of Saint Dominus, the belfry and the Temple of Jupiter do have opening hours and a small entrance fee. Prebooking restaurants and hotels within the grounds (some of the best in Split) is recommended and often essential.

During the high tourist season klapa music is performed daily in and around the ruins, usually around 10am-12 noon. There is no timetable nor schedule on performances (none I could find anyway) so stumbling across a performance is usually just pot-luck. The best place to find singers performing klapa music is in the palace vestibule. Performances are free – just turn up and join the crowd – but performers will make a big push to sell their CDs to the crowd afterwards.

TLT x


 

The beautiful altar seen from the Choir area looking towards the main hall of the Cathedral. The puerile side of me couldn't help but notice that the tabernacle on the altar looked rather like R2-D2 from Star Wars

From Roman Empire to Roman Catholic: sweet Christian revenge over Christian-slaying emperor Diocletian

 

 

 

 

 


 

Pompeii Baths   Up (down and around) Pompeii


 

Zagreb: politics, religion and fabulous roof tiles

Zagreb Croatia, things to see and do in Zagreb, St Mark's Church, Crkva Svetog Marka, Trg Svetog Marka, front angle

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2 Responses to Split … Diocletian’s Palace: Croatia’s answer to Pompeii

  1. TLT says:

    I’m afraid I didn’t have any change on me

  2. Anne Guy says:

    Great photos I love the belfry….but did you buy a CD?

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