From the Palace to the Riva
Our 5th destination on our Croatian road trip was to the ancient waterfront city of Split. Located on a peninsula along the Adriatic Sea, overlooking crystal-clear waters and islands beyond.
Split is Croatia’s second largest city and a popular destination for visitors, either relaxing for a couple of days or using Split as a stepping stone to embark upon their island-hopping journey.
Either way, you cannot leave this ancient city, without visiting the highly impressive Diocletian Palace and its lovely social squares.
A helpful guide
If you've yet to discover the delights of Croatia you're in for a treat. While planning our road trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Croatian road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.
On arriving in Split, you are instinctively drawn to the bustling harbour front and the tree-lined promenade of the Riva.
Immediately centuries of ancient structures in a various state of preservation are all around you.
The 4th century Roman Cathedral of Saint Domnius stands prominent in the skyline.
However, it was the sunken Roman Peristyle in front of the Diocletian quarters that really drew Gary and I in.
Surrounded on three sides by imposing stone pillars and arches, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were in the heart of Italy. It is quite a lot to take in, you just stand there looking above and around you in awe, that something so magnificent has survived the test of time.
What is wonderful is that it is free to wander around, strolling in and amongst the ruins, you take it all in at your own pace.
Watching the stars
Take the few steps up, at the end of the Peristyle and walk through to the vestibule.
Another amazing piece of Roman architecture, although today you can see the sun and the stars through the circular ceiling. The vestibule would have once been encased in a dome.
If instead, you decided to take the steps down at the end of the Peristyle, you would now be entering the underground cellars of the palace.
We briefly popped out of the north end of the palace walls, through the Golden Gate.
We were greeted by the huge imposing statue of Gregory of Nin, towering 28ft (8.5 metres) above you.
The Bishop of Nin lived during the 10th century and was the first to hold services in the Old Croatian language, this was very controversial as until that time all services and been held in Latin.
This statue is very popular with visitors, rubbing the statue’s now shiny toe is said to bring good luck.
Slightly beyond the passageways and corridors of the palace, but still within the heart of the Old Town, you walk into Split’s maze of narrow cobbled streets.
These shed even more light onto Split’s historical past.
What I particularly remembered about Split were the public squares. Full of a mix of incredible architecture and lovely places to sit and watch the world go by.
Give your feet a rest
People’s Square or Narodni trg was full of lively cafes, and had some amazing examples of Baroque and Renaissance buildings, with ornate balconies.
What is a shame, is that there is a little old bookshop in People’s Square called Morpurgo.
It was established in 1860 and considered to be one of the oldest books shops in the world.
Unfortunately, this little bit of cultural history could be lost forever as it closed its doors in the last few months.
No fruit today
Another lovely square and steeped in history is Fruit Square or Trg Brace Radic.
Nicknamed Fruit Square, as historically people from surrounding villages used to come here to sell their wares.
Although Fruit Square is bustling with cafes & restaurants, you won’t fail to miss the statue of Croatia’s famous 15th-century poet Marko Marulic.
Republic Square along the far end of the Riva, is a large colourful square and reminiscent of St Marks Square in Venice.
Surrounded by neo-Renaissance buildings on three sides, there is a beautiful view across the waterfront of the south side.
No trip to Split would be complete without a promenade along the Riva.
Lined with palm trees and flower beds, families and friends enjoy this social area and soak up the view across the harbour.
Watching boat excursions coming and going out into the Adriatic.
Where we stayed
Our accommodation for the one night we were in Split, was at Hotel Corner, a fairly comfortable hotel with very friendly staff.
Located north of the Old Town and about a 10-minute walk from the northern edge of the city walls.
The main reason we chose this hotel was for the car parking & there was plenty of it, even for a larger car.
Would you like a little more?
We have created a little YouTube video of Split. It’s a view of our time in the old town.
Why not subscribe to our channel and get the latest clips as we post them?
Inspired to visit Split?
Does the history tempt you? If not the food? You can feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
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