How To Walk Like A Diocletian in Split, Croatia

The beating heart of Split, Croatia holds the UNESCO Palace of Diocletian. The ancient Roman behemoth was built in between the 3rd and 4th century by retired Emperor Diocletian. Fortunately for us, he didn’t use his full name – Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus. He likes names as much as Daenerys Targaryen. The Diocletian Palace is special as it reflects transitional architecture from Greek occupation to Byzantine rule. The seven-acre fortress looks over the sparkling Adriatic Sea and is sheltered by Mount Mosor. My best suggestion, lose yourself in the narrow, granite alley ways. The palace reminds me of walking in an Arizona slot canyon. Steep, claustrophobic walls that become maze. Enter for free through one of four gates – Golden, Silver, Iron, and Bronze.

I knew nothing about Split, let alone Croatia when I decided to visit. When my carefully planned, six-month itinerary went out the window and a cheap flight popped up on Skyscanner it all seemed chalked up to fate.

What can you do in this ancient beauty?

Firstly, embrace your inner Cersei Lannister and enjoy the greatest local reds. Wine is a trade that has been produced in Split for thousands of years. Coastal wine made in the Dalmatian region tends to be fruity yet, bold. Pick a light white to accompany a fresh fish dinner. Speaking of the Lannisters… there are several Game of Thrones filming sites in and around Split. The first site is the Fortress of Klis (about ten miles out of Split) and recently for GOT season 5, the Diocletian Palace itself. One of the best feelings is recognizing a place you have visited on screen.

Diocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate Marra

I entered through the buzzing Iron Gate from the equally as ancient, residential area of Varos. The Iron Gate is truly the place to be for food and is lively from 10AM to late in the evening. Split offers hundreds of local eateries and shops in and around the Diocletian Palace. Croatian food? They have it. Sparkly sandals? Check. Italian cuisine? Yup. Gelato? Please, don’t get between a tourist and a gelato stand or risk foot prints on your forehead.

Diocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate Marra

The Iron Gate leads directly to Peristyle Square. Want to see the square empty? You have to rise with the sun. I took this at 6AM as the sun was waking up. The morning is an incredible time to start exploring the city however, entry into the paid sites are normally not open. Another notable time to be in the center of the palace is noon. At noon actors present changing of the guards. It’s completely kitschy but, fun to watch! What girl doesn’t want to watch muscular, Roman guards march about?

Diocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate Marra

My favorite find was through a tunnel leading to the subterranean palace. The arched hallways are untouched and seem completely original. How many years has this cavern seen? Oh right, thousands. Likeness to not being able to visualize millions of dollars, thousands of years doesn’t seem to make sense. The world was such a different place. Echoes produced by the tall ceilings are harrowing as you wander about. The buzz of the city above is haunting.  Here you can wander about in yet another maze. The rooms below used to be under water when the palace was first built. Afterwards, the rooms were used as a home for the Roman’s pet dragons. Um, kidding. But, it was used to produce wine – see a picture of the press below!

Diocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate MarraDiocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate Marra

The Temple of Jupiter represents the old gods. Jupiter was the top Roman god. The vaulted ceilings create an acoustic sweet spot. There was a group of German tourists singing in the center of the temple. The result gave me goosebumps.

Right outside Jupiter’s temple is the narrowest alley in Split. Two adults are unable to squeeze through!

Diocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate Marra

St. Duje Cathedral and the bell tower reigns supreme over the Split skyline. The bell tower, located next to the Peristyle is the tallest building in the city. The octagonal Christian Cathedral did’t exist until the 13th century as Emporer Diocletian was a persecutor of Christians. Climb the spiral staircase for a panoramic view of Split and surrounding areas.

Diocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate MarraDiocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate Marra

Facing the Riva is another quiet corner of the palace. Here you can also find the Ethnographic Museum of Split. I highly recommend stopping by this museum! Here you can learn about dress, weapons and wine making in Split throughout history.

Diocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate MarraDiocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate Marra

Be sure to wander, I cant stress this enough. You never know what you will come across.

Diocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate MarraDiocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate Marra

Keep your eyes peeled for glimpses into the ancient past. Mosaics and stone carvings are hidden around the complex. They are incredibly preserved and protected.

Diocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate MarraDiocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate Marra

In closing I’m completely in love with Split, and the bits of Croatia I have experienced. I cant wait to go back. A quick side note –  watch that sky. The weather changed in a matter of hours.

PSA granite is slippery.

Love, your Queen of Travel, Clearer of Cobwebs, Mother of Ferrets, Twister of Ankles – Kate

Diocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate MarraDiocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate Marra

 

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Diocletians Palace Travel Scout Kate Marra
The beating heart of Split, Croatia holds the UNESCO Palace of Diocletian. The ancient Roman behemoth was built in between the 3rd and 4th century by retired Emperor Diocletian.

 

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20 thoughts on “How To Walk Like A Diocletian in Split, Croatia

  1. Croatia is so underrated! It is a well kept secret! Inexpensive, well kept, and many treasures! Thanks for sharing these marvelous pictures Travel Scout Kate!!! ❤️❤️😻😻😸

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  2. Croatia is amazing, and Split was my introduction to the country – so it’s safe to say that I was impressed from the start! It really is a beautiful and charming city, with so much to offer visitors. As a former Latin student (my dad made me take it in high school!) I appreciated seeing some truly ancient history transformed into a modern city, talk about juxtapositions… Great photos as well, you’ve captured the city very well! To be honest, I think the first picture is the best… all those damn terrace cafes EVERYWHERE, and the cheap wine to go with, of course 🙂 I can’t wait to get back to Split, thanks for sharing!

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    1. Awwww thanks! I keep plotting ways to get back to Croatia. I’ll probably do Dubrovnik next. I reckon it could be the next “Iceland” hot spot for travelers.

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  3. Wow Split looks gorgeous! that wine press is fascinating; I had no idea how they produced wine way back when. And great idea to start wandering around early in the morning before all the tourists come out!

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    1. Aww man, you have to go! I didn’t think I’d like Croatia as much as I did but, I find myself plotting to get back 🙂

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  4. I loved walking the ancient palace when I was in Split last May. You’re so right about looking for remnants and walking, walking, walking. It’s such a vibrant palace too. We went with a history professor and I loved learning about the different phases the city went through. Didn’t care for the crowds though…

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    1. I was there in off season and I thought it was crowded! A local I talked to said it gets much worse. I can imagine the alleys get really congested.

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  5. We recently visited Croatia and guess what? We skipped Split from our itinerary so that we can spend more time there when we visit Croatia next time. But looks like we missed too many things in doing that. Loved the ancient architecture. Beautiful.

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  6. I’m heading to Croatia next year and I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to include Split in my itinerary, but now I think it has to be! I agree that you have to wander because you never know what you’re going to find. There definitely seem to be a lot of details hidden throughout the town.

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    1. I would definitely make a day trip of Split! I spent 2 weeks there because I was trying to stretch my Schengen Visa. Two weeks was a little long to be in such a small place but, visiting for 1-2 days would certainly cover everything!

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  7. I loved my time in Split, so glad that you did too – and great tips for enjoying the city like a local – you can’t beat their local reds! Personally, I’ve never seen GOT (blasphemy to most people, I know!) but from the little I do know about the series, I can absolutely understand why they chose Croatia, and Split, for many of the scenes. Definitely has that lost world, height of the Empire type of feel.

    Great tip on visiting Peristyle Square before 6am – it was PACKED when we got there late afternoon!
    Love that you encourage people to wander – it’s my favorite way to explore, and I totally agree, you find amazing local gems that way – never know what’s around the next corner!

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  8. Split looks like such a pretty spot! I love all the architecture–wandering around the city and having some wine sounds like a wonderful way to spend the day. That subterranean palace looks really neat too–cool to see the old wine press!

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  9. I’ve read about a few of the Game of Thrones sights in Split, but I haven’t been there yet to see it for myself. I’d love to grab a glass of the local red wine and then walk around that amazing city!

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