Roman emperor Diocletian, who was an Illyrian by birth, probably born in nearby Salona, built his luxurious retirement palace and mausoleum here from 293 to 305 AD, which made Split famous. When the Roman colony of Salona was destroyed in the 7th century, the Romanised survivors moved into the walls of Diocletian’s palace where their heirs still live today.
Diocletian palace and the harbor are still the highlight of Split and also make it part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Within the monumental walls of this Roman palace, stands the grand cathedral which was once the mausoleum. It is the kind of sight that catches you by surprise.
A highlight for us in Split was meeting Frank on the bus from Trogir to Split. He was from Vancouver and has been traveling about three months. He had a backpack on so we got into a conversation about travel. He gave us bad advice about staying on the bus, but we did not mind the adventure of finding our way back to Split’s Old Town together. He was a sweet guy who had just arrived from Budapest and was on his way to Greece before going home. We enjoyed traveling together for a little bit and Mozart was happy to meet a new friend.
He went off to find lodging while we headed to the palace, but soon Mozart met a new friend, as a girl taught her how to use some new contraption toy thing. There were young actors dressed up as Roman guards which she also liked. There is nothing quite like this palace and the tangle of marble streets containing shops that surround it, so we wandered about and visited the cathedral. They had some angels there that DaVinci particularly liked and I am pretty sure I picked up a cold bug there, when a puff of dust from a red curtain at entry started my odd hacking, which soon increased.
We really liked the water front promenade, so we walked around until we found the right cafe and then sat and people watched for a while and Mozart ordered her first banana split in Split. It is a large harbor filled with gorgeous boats and you can get a boat to most any place from here. If you arrive by boat, Split looks great, but if you arrive by car it looks pretty ugly from the highway and tempts you not to stop.
Split is Croatia’s second largest city and is more built up than Dubrovnik. I have read it is the heart of the Dalmatian coast, but we liked Dubrovnik much better. The area around Split has become much more built up for our particular taste. We are glad we saw it and probably will see more if our plans work out for Korcula and Hvar islands, but we are happy to be on a quiet beach nearby, away from all the city madness.