From Illyria to Italy, Part 1: Diocletian’s Palace
We’ve just got back from a Roman adventure, a trip back in time some 2 millennia, both in terms of the cities visited, and the antiquated service received from Veiling airlines who lost our luggage on the first day (but more about that vexation another time). For our double-dose city tour took us from the ancient Roman ruins which form the centrepiece of the beautiful Croatian town of Split, to both the ancient and the modern manifestation of the Roman world in the city of Rome herself.
So first let me sweep you over along the graceful Adriatic coast, to the coastline of Croatia littered with an archipelago of dalmatian spotted-islands, stopping at Split, one of the most splendid cities of old Illyria. The city has an illustrious history, but the man who truly placed it on the map was Emperor Diocletian who, attracted to the city because of its naturally occurring sulphur springs amongst other things, constructed a vast palace complex in the city to which he retired in 305AD. It is that very palace, still incredibly well preserved, which sits at the centre of today’s modern but manageably sized city. However unlike the standard Roman ruins sitting apart and cordoned off in most modern cities, these actually form part and parcel of daily life, since the Medieval city was actually built on, and expanded within, the old palace remains.
Thus it was that in around 615AD, long after the collapse of the Roman Empire, refugees from Salona settled in the palace, gradually building within its walls, and changing the fabric of its interior. Such is the history which gives Split it’s inherently unique character – a city of ancient cobbled stones, Roman pillars and ancient temples coupled with superimposed Medieval houses, early-Christian churches and later Venetian-gothic touches.
This architectural medley is the focus of this first post of photos from my holiday in Split. Staying bang in the centre, with the most incredible views onto the Cathedral of St Dominus which itself was built on the old sight of Diocletian’s mausoleum, we were ideally situated to make the most of this UNESCO protected marvel. With its hodgepodge of styles, bustling narrow streets, and Roman columns, archways and temples at every turn, the city made for an easy photographic target, as this small selection of a very large collection of photos suggests.
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