My sore eye was better when I woke up early Thursday morning and after a quick shower we were out for a coffee at a cafe right next to our apartment. They also served breakfast (eggs, bacon, fruits, orange juice) for HRK 40. We had a good breakfast and were on our way to the Riva at about 8:00am.
|The Split Card is for HRK 36 (approx $7) for 24 hours and can be used for the next 3 days without paying anything extra. You get free access to most museums, half-price discounts at many galleries, free public transportation and discounts on shops, restaurants, rental cars and hotels.
Wanting to do the walking tour of Diocletian’s Palace before the tourist crowd dock at the port, we started at the north gate of the palace right next to the imposing statue of Gregorius of Nin, the 10th-century Croatian bishop who fought for the right to use old Croatian in liturgical services. Sculpted by Ivan Meštrović, this powerful work is one of the defining images of Split. Notice the left toe of the statue is polished bronze. Legend has it that if you rub the toe you will come back to Split.
To the west of the statue you’ll see the well-preserved corner tower of the palace. Between the statue and the tower are the remains of the church of St. Benedict with the 15th-century Chapel of Arnir. Peek in to the protective glass and you’ll see the altar slab and altar sarcophagus carved by the early Renaissance master Juraj Dalmatinac.
The Palace has 4 monumental gates – Porta Aurea (Zlatna vrata, Golden gate), Porta Argenta (Srebrna vrata, Silver gate), Porta Ferrea (Željezna vrata, Iron gate) and Porta Aenea (Mjedena vrata). The statue is right outside the Golden Gate, which was once the starting point for the road to Solin. Turn left at Papalićeva and at No 5 is Papalić Palace with a courtyard, loggia and external staircase. Built by Dalmatinac for one of the many noblemen who lived within the palace in the Middle Ages, it is considered a fine example of late-Gothic style with an elaborately carved entrance gate that proclaimed the importance
of its original inhabitants. The exterior of the palace is almost in its original state, but the interior has been restored to the Town Museum (Croatian: Muzej Grada Splita; Price: HRK 10; Hours: 9am – 9pm Tue-Fri, 10am-1pm Sat & Sun Jun-Sep, 10am-5pm Tue-Fri, 10am-1pm Sat & Sun Oct-May). All captions are in Croatian, but wall panels in a variety of languages provide a historical framework for the exhibits. The museum has three floors, with drawings, coats of arms, 17th-century weaponry, fine furniture, coins and documents from as far back as the 14th century.
We returned to Dioklecijanova, turned left to see the Peristil, the ceremonial entrance court to the imperial quarters and three steps below the level of the surrounding streets. The longer side is lined by six granite columns, linked by arches and decorated with a stone frieze. The southern side is enclosed by the Protiron, which is the entrance into the imperial quarters.
Before moving on we had one of the best coffees in Croatia at the outdoor café right in the square and the ancient stones provide handy seats to relax and people-watch in this popular meeting place.
We headed up the eastern stairs to the Cathedral of St. Domnius (Croatian: Katedrala Svetog Duje; Price: adult/student incl Treasury HRK 10/5; Hours: 7am-noon & 4-7pm), originally built as Diocletian’s mausoleum. It was steep walk up to the tower from where one can see a 360° view of Split.
Moving on, we turned right in the narrow street of Kraj Sveti Ivana, which leads to what used to be the ceremonial and devotional section of the palace. At the end of the street is the Temple of Jupiter (Price: HRK 10), later converted into a baptistery. The headless sphinx in black granite guarding the entrance was imported from Egypt at the time of the temple’s construction.
The oldest monuments in the cathedral are the remarkable scenes on the wooden entrance doors from the life of Christ. Notice the right altar carved by Bonino da Milano in 1427 and the vault above the altar decorated with murals by Dujam Vušković. To the left is the altar of St. Anastasius (Croatian: Sveti Staš) by Dalmatinac, with a relief of The Flagellation of Christ, which is one of the finest sculptural works of its time in Dalmatia.
We followed the signs to the Treasury (Hours: 8am-noon Sun Jul & Aug, 10am-noon Sun Jun & Sep, 11am-noon Sun Oct-May), rich in icons, church robes, illuminated manuscripts and documents in Glagolitic script. Part of the same structure look for the belfry (Price: HRK 5; Hours: 7am-noon & 4-7pm Jul & Aug, 8am-noon Jun & Sep) was reconstructed in 1908 after it collapsed. Notice the two lion figures at the foot of the belfry and the Egyptian black-granite sphinx on the right wall. South of the mausoleum, there are remains of the Roman baths, a Roman building with a mosaic and the remains of the imperial dining hall in various stages of preservation.
Immediately to the west of the cathedral are the massive steps leading down through the Protiron into the vestibule, which is the best-preserved part of the imperial residence. The cellars are filled with stands selling souvenirs and handicrafts. To the left is the entrance to the basement halls (Price: HRK 6; Hours: 10am-6pm) of the palace. Although mostly empty, the rooms and corridors emit a haunting sense of timelessness that is well worth the price of the ticket. The cellars open onto the southern gate.
Above the vestibule is Temple of the Aesculapius, dedicated to Asclepius, the Greek/Roman god of healing/medicine, has a semi cylindrical roof made out of hand carved stone blocks which did not leak until the 1940s, and was then covered with a lead roof. This is where male-groups often perform the famous Klapa music.
|The klapa music is a form of a cappella singing that first appeared in Croatia during the 1960s. The word klapa translates as “a group of people” and traces its roots to liturgical church singing. The motifs in general celebrate love, wine (grapes), country (homeland) and sea. The main elements of the music are harmony and melody, with rhythm very rarely being very important. A klapa group consists of a first tenor, a second tenor, a baritone, and a bass. It is possible to double all the voices apart from the first tenor. Although klapa is a cappella music, on occasion it is possible to add a gentle guitar and a mandolin (instrument similar in appearance and sound to tamburitzas).
Right next to Temple of the Aesculapius is the Ethnographic Museum (Price: HRK 10; Hours: 9am-2pm & 5-8pm Mon-Fri, 9am-1pm Sat Jun-Sep, 9am-2pm Mon-Fri, 9am-1pm Sat Oct-May), which has a collection of photos of old Split, traditional costumes and memorabilia of important citizens. Captions are in Croatian.
By the time we were done with the Palace, it was lunch time and we headed out of the Southern Gate onto the Riva to the Adriana restaurant.
With lots of energy after a meal, we thought of taking the first boat or ferry out of Split to the nearby island of Hvar Town and returning back late evening. Unfortunately, all the companies run ferries to Hvar Town and back starting early morning and returning the next morning. They don’t operate ferries returning on the same day. And since we had to head out to Dubrovnik the next morning, we decided to skip this and walk up to the Meštrović Gallery.
It’s a 30 minute walk to the Meštrović Gallery (Croatian: Galerija Meštrović; Price: adult incl Kaštelet HRK 30; Hours: 9am-2pm Tue-Fri, to 1pm Sat & Sun).) from Riva, starting along the coastline, just follow the Šetalište Ivana Meštrovića. You will pass by the Croatian Archeological Museum on the way, which we decided to skip!
Entry into the massive front-yard of Split’s finest art museum – Meštrović Gallery – is free, but you will have to purchase tickets (before entering the main gate) to enter the museum. You’ll see a comprehensive, well-arranged collection of works by Ivan Meštrović, Croatia’s premier modern sculptor, who built the gallery as a personal residence from 1931 to 1939.
Make sure to stop further up on the street at Kaštelet (Address: Šetalište Ivana Meštrovića 39; admission by Meštrović Gallery ticket or HRK 20; Hours: 9am-9pm Tue-Sun mid-May–Sep, 9am-4pm Tue-Sat, 10am-3pm Sun Oct–mid-May), the fortress that Meštrović bought and restored to house his powerful Life of Christ wood reliefs.
While walking back to the Riva we decided to climb the Marjan hill which is a great place for long walks, jogging, and bike rides. Marjan’s peak, Telegrin is 174 m high and gives a wonderful panoramic view of Split. South cliffs are popular within alpine climbers. St. Nicholas church is situated on the east of Marjan, on it’s south side are beautiful St. Jeronimus church and “Gospe od Betlema” church (Madonna of Betlehem). House building is strictly forbidden in order to save Marjan – the lungs of Split.
After another round of coffee at the restaurant on the top of the hill, we wanted to rest ourselves for a while so decided to head to the apartment for a quick nap!
Gaining some strength with a small nap, we were out again and this time to the beautiful Bačvice beach, which was just a 10 minute walk from our apartment. The beach is sandy with some rocky parts, and the sea is turquoise-blue with controlled purity. One of the most famous activities on the beach is playing “picigin” and it is a favorite summer sport in Split, and you can also have fun with other sea sports. The beach has bars, restaurants and patisseries that serves cold drinks or ice-creams. This is the main town beach and it is visited by a large number of tourists, especially in summer months, which are watched over by beach rescuers. Access is also enabled to people with disabilities. There is a leisure park equipped with slides, trampoline, and a rubber castle for the kids. For all those who want to have fun with music and dance, there is a famous club Sheakspeare on the beach, which is opened all night and guarantees a good time.
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate of USD 1 = HRK 5 at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult.
|HRK 40 or $8
|Coffee at Diocletian’s Palace
|HRK 24 or $5
|Cathedral of St. Domnius
|HRK 10 or $2
|Tower of Cathedral of St. Domnius
|HRK 10 or $2
|Temple of Jupiter
|HRK 10 or $2
|Lunch at Adriana
|HRK 400 or $80
|For 2 persons
|HRK 6 or $1.50
|HRK 5 or $1
|HRK 10 or $2
|Coffee at Marjan Hill
|HRK 30 or $6
|For 2 persons
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Travel from Zadar to Split & day there.
Diocletian’s Palace & coastal town.
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Travel from Split to Dubrovnik & day there.