If you don’t have all the time in the world.
One could say the top must-see site in Split, Croatia is the Diocletian’s Palace which takes over half of Split’s Old Town. Situated in the heart of Split, the entire old stonewalls can house over 9,000 people. This area is also where you’ll find many shops, restaurants, bars and apartments for travelers.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most important historical building in Split, mainly due to its level of preservation making it one of the most complete ancient architectures on the Croatian Adriatic coast.
Surrounding the palace are four other sites that you can’t miss. Due to massive tourists that cruise in all day long, you don’t want to hang around there for longer than an hour. But the key to doing it within 60 minutes is to arrive bright and early. That’s when you’ll capture the most beautiful images of the cultural landmark and enjoy the experience to the fullest. Below is a list of what you should see at the palace.
TIP! Crowds roll in fast at all hours at the palace. Visiting the bell tower, which requires climbing up steep and narrow stairs that fit only one person, one way. Arriving early, at 8 a.m. so you can avoid crowds or wait time.
PRICE: All-inclusive ticket to the cathedral and Temple of Jupiter – 25 kunas, bell tower only – 15 kunas.
1. Diocletian’s Palace
This ancient palace was built during the turn of 4th century AD by Roman Emperor Diocletian. It was meant to be the retirement residence of the emperor but it appears further as a massive fortress. Half of it was meant for Diocletian’s personal use while the other was made to be military barracks. Hence the neoclassical architecture combines features of a luxurious villa with elements of a military camp. Especially if you notice the giant gates and watchtowers.
2. Cathedral and Bell Tower of St. Domnius
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sunday 12:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
The cathedral is dedicated to Virgin Mary and the bell tower is dedicated to Saint Dominus. Sanctified at the turn of the 7th century AD, this is the world’s oldest Catholic cathedral still in use in its original structure today without near-complete renovation. The cathedral is divided into three sections with Emperor Diocletian’s mausoleum as the first part. Admire the incredible limestone and marble taken from nearby Jadro river beds.
The Bell Tower is a hike! Climb up steep stairs (not recommended for anyone afraid of heights,) and you’ll capture the best view of Split. Constructed in 1100 AD, the Romanesque style bell tower has become Split’s iconic symbol. Get there early since the space at the top of the tower is small and hiking up the steps is narrow.
3. Peristil, or Peristyle
Here is the central square of the palace that was made to celebrate the emperor as the living son of Jupiter. He would appear under the central part of the square, others would either kneel down and kiss the hem of his cloak, or fall to the ground. Peristyle is now the perfect venue for theaters, performing arts. Pope John Paul II famously said regarding this place, “Dear God, how many feet have stepped through here.”
4. Temple of Jupiter
Jupiter is an ancient Roman God of sky, thunder and king of the Gods. Built from 295 until 305 AD, the temple is located by the central square of the palace. At the entrance of the temple, you’ll see one of 12 sphinxes brought over from Egypt, which was an order commanded by Emperor Diocletian.