Historical Complex of Split 
with the Palace of Diocletian (1979)
Croatia

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The ruins of Diocletian's Palace, built between the late 3rd and the early 4th centuries A.D., can be found throughout the city. The cathedral was built in the Middle Ages, reusing materials from the ancient mausoleum. Twelfth- and 13th-century Romanesque churches, medieval fortifications, 15th-century Gothic palaces and other palaces in Renaissance and Baroque style make up the rest of the protected area. 

Yugoslavia 1973. City of Split. Etching 1782. Yugoslavia 1975. Emperor Diocletian's Palace in Split.
At the end of the third century AD, the Roman Emperor Diocletian built his palace on the bay of Aspalathos. Here, after abdicating on the first of May in 305 AD, he spent the last years of his life. The bay is located on the south side of a short peninsula running out from the Dalmatian coast into the Adriatic, four miles from the site of Salona, the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. The terrain on which the palace was built slopes gently seaward. It is typical karst terrain, consisting of low limestone ridges running east to west with marl in the clefts between them. 
 

Croatia 1995. Souvenir sheet. 1700th anniversary of Split.

This palace is today the heart of the inner-city of Split where all the most important historical buildings can be found. The importance of Diocletian's Palace far transcends local significance because of its level of preservation and the buildings of succeeding historical periods, stretching from Roman times onwards, which form the very tissue of old Split. The Palace is one of the most famous and integral architectural and cultural constructions on the Croatian Adriatic coast and holds an outstanding place in the Mediterranean, European and world heritage. 
  • Croatia 1995. Souvenir sheet, showing a close-up of Diocletian's Palace. 

The northern half of the palace, which was divided in two parts by the main longitudinal street (cardo) leading from the North Gate to the Perystile, is less well preserved. It is usually supposed that each of these parts formed a large residential complex, housing soldiers, servants, and possibly some other facilities. Both parts were apparently surrounded on all sides by streets. Leading to perimeter walls there were rectangular buildings, possibly storage magazines.

 
The Palace is built of white local limestone of high quality, most of which was from quarries on the island of Brac; tuffa taken from the nearby river beds; and brick made in Salonitan and other workshops. Some material for decoration was imported: Egyptian granite columns and sphinxes, fine marble for revetments and some capitals produced in workshops in the Proconnesos.

Croatia 1995. 1700th anniversary of Split.

Water for the palace came from the Jadro river near Salona. Along the road from Split to Salona impressive remains of the original aqueduct can still be seen. They were extensively restored in the nineteenth century. 

Sources and links: 

Many thanks to Mr. Miomir Zivkovic (Serbia Montenegro), for all help, support and encouragement.  

Other World Heritage Sites in Croatia (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Croatia-section, for further information on the individual properties. 

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Revised 18 aug 2007  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
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