Thursday, 24 October 2013

Diocletian's Palace - Split


all above images via
A collotype illustration by Robert Adam (1764) of the Peristyle known today as Peristile Square - In Hellenistic Greek and Roman architecture a peristyle is a columned porch or open colonnade in a building surrounding a court that may contain a garden.
Roman Emperor Diocletian built his palace in Split at the end of the 3rd century AD ready for his retirement in 305 AD. It was so enormous that it now forms the ancient centre of modern day Split.
Diocletian was the 51st Emperor of the Roman Empire. Born to a family of low status in the Roman province of Dalmatia, he rose through the ranks of the military to become cavalry commander to the Emperor Carus whom he acceded on his death.
After the palace was abandoned by the Romans it remained empty for several centuries until during the 7th century nearby residents fled to the walled palace to escape invading barbarians. Since then the palace has been constantly occupied - within the walls wealthy families built themselves small renaissance palaces and others created homes wherever there was a space. Businesses and shops exist within the palace cellars, nestling in and around the original Roman arches. It is an extraordinary place to visit - the level of preservation along with the buildings of succeeding historical periods, stretching from Roman times onwards, is unique. 
The palace was built from very high quality marbleised limestone found on the island of Brač which I mentioned in a previous post.
The outside upper south wall showing the remains of the Imperial suite.
The palace is typically Roman in shape, being rectangular, each of the four surrounding walls having an entry gate in the middle. We entered the Palace cellars via the Brass Gate in the southern wall. People were selling handmade jewellery and art works - at the far end steps access Peristile Square. The Brass entrance gate originally led out to the Adriatic Sea and entry would have been by boat. 
Coming up to Peristil Square from the cellars, immediately behind you is the entrance to Diocletian's private quarters.
To the right of Peristile Square is the entrance to Diocletian's Mausoleum - now the Cathedral of St. Duje (also known as St. Domnius) which Bishop John of Ravenna converted during the 7th century. Not only is the cathedral the smallest in the world but it could also be considered the oldest being adapted from a 4th century Roman building.
At the side of the Cathedral it is still possible to recognise Diocletian's Mausoleum behind the bell tower. The tower was constructed in the year 1100 AD in the Romanesque style. Having climbed two high towers this year, I decided to give this one a miss.
At the foot of the Bell Tower and guarding the entrance to the Cathedral are two lions. 
Sphinx brought back from Egypt by Diocletian to decorate his palace dating back to 1500 BC. 
The entrance vestibule to the Emperor's living quarters was built to impress. Now resembling a mini Pantheon in Rome it was in fact built with a dome which was decorated with frescoes. It has perfect acoustics beloved of singers. I find it staggering just how sophisticated Roman architecture was when you consider that it was another 1100 years before Brunelleschi designed and built his dome in Florence.
Life as it is lived today within the palace walls.
A Renaissance palace of the patrician family of Karepić. The oldest parts of the palace indicate a Gothic rebuilding of a Romanesque house.
The inner courtyard of a late Gothic palace which belonged to a wealthy merchant. The oldest part of the palace is Romanesque, as confirmed by a fresco showing a peacock found on the second floor. Today it appears to be several homes plus a Travel Agency.
Outside the northern stretch of wall showing the Golden Gate entry. Of all the four entrances to the palace this one is architecturally the most elaborate and was probably the main entrance.
To the front of the Golden Gate is a statue of Gregory of Nin, a medieval Croatian bishop. He preached in the national language - previously services were only held in Latin which the common man could not understand. The statue is by local Croatian sculptor, Ivan Meštrović. He was also responsible for two important sculptures in America - The Spearman and The Bowman which stand as gatekeepers at the Congress Plaza, Chicago. 
Rubbing the foot is said to bring 'good luck', especially the big toe!!!
The west gate known as the Iron Gate is the principal link between the Palace and the 'new' medieval suburb.
The final gate in the east wall known as the Silver Gate leads out to a large open air market.
Outside the palace walls - a view of the waterfront at Split, and................
there are even a few Romans still lurking around the corners today!

53 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I am pleased that you enjoyed it Marina - I also found it an extremely memorable and amazing place to visit.

      Delete
  2. Such a great place. There's a lot to see. Thank you for sharing, Rosemary!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must admit that I had no idea that the ancient centre of Split was inside a Roman Palace before I visited.

      Delete
  3. Fabulous Architecture and fabulous photographs and oh those Pantaloons! Thank you Rosemary for another great post. ox, Gina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Gina - thank you - your kind comments are always very much appreciated. I wonder what the owner of the pantaloons would think if they knew that they were on the internet?

      Delete
  4. Now that would have been magnificent in it's day, still very impressive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just amazing when you consider it is almost a thousand years old.

      Delete
  5. Another beautiful city you present to us here Rosemary. Imagine encoutering Romans! And that toe, haha, I think there must be some part of a statue in about every city that brings good luck if you rub it don't you think?
    Marian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was another statue we saw in another place Marian but it was much too indelicate for me to show to you.

      Delete
  6. It's a beautiful place. I like the colours of the stone in the old palace and the waterfront view is lovely too.
    Impressive pulley system on the washing lines, at least I assume that's what it is. Pegging would be a tad risky otherwise. Not sure I'd want my smalls in quite such full view but there you go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose the areas where the smalls were hanging was really private, but being a bit nosey I popped my head around the corners that I probably should not have done.
      It was a lovely visit.

      Delete
  7. Last year i was with my daugther in Rome...and now i looked at youre photo's and it is simelar...the buildings...the statue's and the man in youre last photo's...the same was by coloseum.
    The photo's are so nice...
    I think Croatie is a verry interesting country.
    Thank you for sharing Rosemary.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Romans and the Greeks have left behind them the most amazing architectural legacies for us all to enjoy and appreciate.

      Delete
  8. Hello Rosemary, To be able to explore Diocletian's palace like this is truly incredible. Furthermore, historic apartments and businesses in America consider themselves lucky if they can inhabit part of a 19th-century house or commercial building--imagine in this day inhabiting an ancient palace!
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jim - it is wonderful that so much of the original palace still exists, so much so that it is still recognisable. I loved visiting it, and have to admit to having no idea that the centre of Split was within a Roman Palace before this trip. The fact that it has been used by generation after generation has in fact preserved it for us all to enjoy today.

      Delete
  9. What an incredible post, Rosemary. I've never 'been' to Croatia before but now I feel as if I've, at least, been to Split and meandered within a real ancient palace. What an amazing place. Gorgeous photos. To think that some of the pillars, stones, statues, walkways, etc. have been there since the days of the Roman Empire and today are just part of everyday life for the people who live there.. And in such good condition, too. Mind-boggling. To the people who live and work there today it's probably just another day in the neighborhood, but - wow. I'd surely love to visit sometime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Yvette - I am pleased that you enjoyed your trip to Split with me, I felt exactly the same as you. I was so pleased that we visited as I was totally unaware of the uniqueness of the place before hand. I knew that it had a very ancient centre but had no idea that the centre was actually a Roman Palace. I hope that one day you get the opportunity to see it for yourself.

      Delete
  10. Fascinating how such ancient towns and cities reflect different periods of their existence with wonderful styles of architecture fitting together. The colour of the stonework of Split is beautiful. Interesting that the place was uninhabited for several centuries and then came to life again in the 7th century. I was reading about how Diocletian was going to spend his retirement gardening! Of course, I thought of the buildings in Rome - the Baths named in honour of Diocletian, of course. A church was built in the ruins. One of my favourites is the amazing Pantheon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Linda - the Pantheon in Rome always castes its spell over me - what a marvellous testament to Roman ingenuity. I am always thinking to myself "how great were the Romans" when I consider the amazing viaducts, amphitheatres, floor mosaics etc all across Europe - they were remarkable people.

      Delete
  11. Podziwiałam Split, pałac i potarłam paluszek na szczęście. Bardzo ciekawy jest opis pałacu. Pozdrawiam.
    Split admired the palace and rubbed my finger for good luck. Very interesting is the description of the palace. Yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Szanowny Giga - Split to wspaniałe miejsce do odwiedzenia - nadzieja pocieranie palec nie przynosi dużo szczęścia!
      Dear Giga - Split is a wonderful place to visit - hope rubbing the toe does brings you lots of luck!

      Delete
  12. Wonderful stone statues - I love the lion!

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a great tour Rosemary, so interesting to see the way it was versus how it is today. Those romans were absolutely fenomenal !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Jane - the Romans have left behind so many wonderful architectural works for us still to enjoy today - I wonder how much of todays buildings will still be around in a 1000 years?

      Delete
  14. I was astonished to read that people in Split actually still inhabit an ancient Roman palace. Incredible! And what an attractive place it is too. The Romans were amazing engineers and architects. HB and I love to watch TV shows about Roman life, and it must have been quite wonderful to see Diocletian's palace. We are tentatively planning our very first trip to Italy next year - but where to begin! Well, Rome, I guess...
    PS: Great statue of Gregory the Bishop!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was my reaction too Patricia, and once I knew I couldn't wait to see it. Unfortunately there was no trip to Split whilst we were there so 6 of us hired a taxis and were all thrilled with our visit.
      If you visit Rome then you must also try and travel a bit further south in order to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum both extraordinary and memorable places.

      Delete
  15. Dear Rosemary ,it seems that you had wonderful time at Spit ! All these places at past was a province of the Roman Empire .Thank you for sharing this !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Olympia - the Roman palace remains in Split are truly remarkable - a fascinating place to stroll around.

      Delete
  16. Dear Rosemary, I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed this most enlightening tour around the palace in Split (well, not in a comment box, not enough room) but it has delighted me intensely. Especially seeing how lived in it is currently! I have only seen this sort of thing in Italy - washing hanging out in stunning architechtural settings from many, many centuries ago - and the image has always stayed with me. What a place... Thank you. Axxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Annie - your kind comment is very much appreciated - thank you. I had no idea before my visit how wonderful Split is. The fact that it has been lived in over so many centuries, and the walls reinforced with different buildings by its citizens over the centuries, is what has helped to preserve it so well.

      Delete
  17. Dear Rosemary we visited the Diocletian's palace on our holiday in Split. It was incredible that parts of the palace had been buried by centuries of rubbish and was rediscovered for us all now to see. Your lovely pictures bought back all the memories of our trip. Did you also visit the fish market?
    Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Sarah - apparently the archaeologists are still studying the rubbish removed from the cellars which the local people threw there over hundreds of years. We should have spent more time exploring the underground palace but time was not on our side. We did visit the Fish Market, but it was at the end of the day when most fish had been sold.

      Delete
  18. Dear Rosemary, Thanks for introducing me to this incredible architectural wonder (with which I was unfamiliar!). The illustration header reveals what a well-considered community Diocletian's palace was, and I suppose we should be thankful to those 7th-century invaders for its preservation. Your photographs really convey the great scale. — Mark

    P.S. I'm glad those Roman sentries aren't wearing wrist watches!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Mark - I am sure that you can imagine how thrilled I was to visit this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage site. Dubrovnik is the city that gets all of the attention, and it is a very beautiful, historical, architectural city. However, for me, Split with its ancient Roman Palace, still a living, working environment, was very unique and special.
      Yes, watches and mobile phones would have been a let down.

      Delete
  19. I loved reading this, Rosemary. I had heard many times that Split is worth a visit - and now I see why! Your lovely photos have shown what an incredible place it is. It is amazing that the Roman Palace is so well preserved and that ordinary life continues within it. The Roman Empire under Diocletian is not a period I know anything about, so now I have the image of his palace in my mind and some information from you - I'm off to read up on him!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Wendy - I am delighted that you enjoyed the post sufficiently to want to check out Diocletian for yourself. My own understanding of him was that he was rather a tyrant, but that seems to be a pre-requisite for many successful leaders then and no doubt now.

      Delete
    2. Dear Rosemary,
      what a beautiful city and what a great place Split is!! Amazing architectural !!!
      Wonderful pictures!!!Thank you for sharing!!!
      Have a lovely weekend!!
      Dimi...

      Delete
    3. Dear Dimi - I had no idea before our visit just what a wonderful and historic place Split is.

      Delete
  20. What amazing photos!
    I fell in love with Roman Architecture when I visited Bath England about 24 years ago, It really is amazing that they built such beauty in a time that didn't have technology and big machinery!
    Did you rub that big toe? :)
    Tammy x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Romans have left behind them an incredible legacy across the whole of Europe, I am continually amazed by their achievements. Bath is just down the road from where I live so I know it well.
      I didn't rub the toe but hung on to it as the steps were steep, so hopefully some of the good luck will come my way.

      Delete
  21. Dear Rosemary,
    thank you for showing us so many wonderful photos of a very beautiful city! Now I am quite interested to visit it for once - had not imagined that it has so many special attractions. The big toe is gleaming like the nose of the lion in Munich - I do that too, when I pass...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Britta - do fit in a trip sometime, I know that you would really enjoy visiting such an historic and interesting place.

      Delete
  22. Thank you Rosemary for a most interesting and beautiful post. So much to learn! Great to travel with you.
    Hope you are staying safe from the storm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Betty - Split was a very interesting place to explore.
      The storm never arrived here in the west as expected, it seems it fizzled out before reaching us.

      Delete
  23. I am most impressed by your image of the vestibule. Lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was lucky that the sun created that perfect shadow inside the vestibule.

      Delete
  24. What a fantastic place and a wonderful post, Rosemary. Your photos are stunning. I love the feeling of a place layered with history and archaeology. The tunnel with marble or polished limestone paving stones is so atmospheric. How many generations of feet have trodden that way?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Perpetua - Split was a complete revelation to me, I had no idea it was such a wonderful place. Isn't it amazing how much of Diocletian's Palace still exists within this central busy location?

      Delete
  25. majestic and magic! lovely pictures, I have never been to Croatia, so I was happy to visit with you:-) happy weekend from tulipland:-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Split is a wonderful place which I had no idea about before our visit. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Roman architecture.

      Delete
  26. Since seeing your posts we have pinned Croatia on the map in the office. Your pictures capture Split wonderfully. The Vestibule is crying out as a place for me to practice my scales, right after I rub that big toe:)

    ReplyDelete

❖PLEASE NOTE❖ Comments made by those who hide their identity will be deleted

“You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you - you have to go to them sometimes”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh