Historic Split and Trogir
Split is Croatia’s second biggest city and one of the oldest. Founded as a Greek colony in the 4th Century BC and later fortified by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 293 – 305AD, Split has been under the control of many empires until, with the rest of Croatia it seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991. The old part of the city exists within the walls of Diocletian’s Palace and has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. This feature, together with a busy harbour providing ferries to nearby islands, makes tourism a major source of the city’s income.
Our cruise ship, Celebrity Silhouette, was required to moor around the point of the Split peninsula because there were already two other cruise ships in port, so we caught the tender in to the city.
The view along the seaside promenade was most attractive with palm trees and restaurants nested in among gaps in the ancient city walls. There we took an escorted tour of Split courtesy of one of the ship’s shore excursions.
Diocletian’s Palace is not only a place of historical interest but it also contains Split’s most interesting shops, bars, restaurants and cafes. Through a gateway between shops is where you enter through the city walls into the Podrum or basement halls where there are market stalls set up selling local souvenirs, jewellery and crafts. Then mount the steps to the Vestibul (now missing its domed roof) where a-capella groups perform due to the great acoustics, and which served as the grand entrance to the Emperor’s apartments along the seafront.
We emerged in the heart of the Palace – the colonnaded court or Peristil – which served as an ancient meeting or entertainment space, and does now still.
Nearby stands a magnificent 13th Century Romanesque bell tower and an octagonal building which served as Diocletian’s mausoleum after his death. Ironically, for a man who persecuted the early Christians, his final resting place became a Christian church, now the Cathedral of Sv. Duje (St Domnius), one of his victims.
Our ship’s excursion then took us along the coast to Trogir – a small island linked to the mainland by a small bridge – so we left the bus on the mainland side and did the tour on foot. Trogir was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. It features narrow, cobblestone passageways winding between Medieval buildings and Renaissance-era palaces, along with spectacular stone houses, churches, monasteries, towers and city walls.
The Cathedral of Sv. Lovre (St Lawrence) was most impressive and is considered to be one of the finest churches in Croatia.
A local artist, Radovan, carved the famous main portal in the 13th century.
On the way back to Split we visited the restored Pantan Old Mill for an authentic Croatian lunch of bread, cured meats, cheese and wine, followed by a performance of Dalmatian songs.
Back in Split we found free wifi in Cafe Luxor, right on the peristyle steps. Rumour has it that it’s the oldest cafe in Split, but if not, it certainly has the oldest architectural features – the medieval loggia, the marble circle on the floor ( which is the base of the Temple of Venus), the exposed walls, and ceiling murals make this a cafe with a difference. Good coffee and cake too!
- The Dalmatian Coast: Split, Hvar and Other Islands (theepochtimes.com)
- back to the past (towelspacked.wordpress.com)