This morning your guide will meet you at your port to begin you exploration of Split, the second largest city in Croatia. This busy maritime and shipbuilding center is also the home of the Diocletian Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site complex built in the 3rd Century and covering a considerable area in the heart of the old town.
The Diocletian Palace, facing onto the Split harbor, is one of the most impressive Roman architectural monuments and is protected as a UNESCO Heritage Site. The Roman Emperor Diocletian, noted for his persecution of early Christians, was supposedly a native of nearby Salona before rising through the military ranks and getting appointed as emperor by his legions. He ruled for 20 years before abdicating and retiring to this palace. After his death, the palace was gradually abandoned until the 7th Century when refugees from the surrounding areas, fleeing foreign invasions, sought shelter within the palace’s protective walls. In the following centuries, the palace’s population outgrew its capacity and the town sprawled outside the walls. Nowadays, Split is a major port and industrial center, as well as a perfect base for day trips to many nearby attractions.
You will have the chance to wander around the more than 200 buildings within the boundaries of the Diocletian Palace complex, many of which are still homes, while others house cafes, restaurants, and shops. Like a typical Roman fort (castrum), in its original form the palace had a roughly square layout and was surrounded by a thick wall with gates and watchtowers. Some of the best-preserved sites you can visit are the Vestibule, the Temple of Jupiter, the Peristyle, and Diocletian’s Mausoleum – now the Cathedral of St. Dominus.
Later continue with your guide and driver to the neighboring island of Trogir. Trogir is treasure trove of cultural and historical monuments dating as far back as the 4th Century BC. Set on a small island just off the mainland, Trogir was first settled by the ancient Greeks, before falling under the Romans and later the Byzantines. Destroyed by the Saracens and abandoned in the 12th Century, thanks to its strategic location the town was soon revived and became an artistic and cultural center under the Austro-Hungarians and later the Venetians. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Old Town is surrounded by a fortress wall with two gates and is connected to the mainland with a bridge.
As you enter the fortified town through the Land Gate, you will stroll along its narrow streets, flanked by ancient stone houses. We suggest that you do not miss St. Lawrence Cathedral, built over the remains of an older church destroyed by the Saracens. The main entrance is through a magnificent Romanesque portal, carved by the Dalmatian sculptor Master Radovan in the 13th Century. Just to the right of the main entrance stands a beautiful Venetian bell tower from the 15th Century.