Split

Split, Croatia

Croatia has become an incredibly popular travel destination in the last couple of decades, and few cities have embraced the change with as much gusto as the beautiful harbour-side city of Split. With its old Roman buildings, incredible scenery and stunning facilities, if you enjoy history, luxury and natural beauty, then Split should certainly be on your wishlist.

Split is the second largest city in Croatia (after Zagreb), and the largest city in the region known as the Dalmation Coast.

History

The city was already around seven hundred years old when Roman Emperor Diocletian built a massive fortified palace right on the waterfront in 305 CE. Much of the palace structure survives, and is the focus of what is now known as the “old town”. The nearby hill known as Marjan became something of a recreational parkland, a role it has continued to fill.

St Domnius Bell Tower, Split, Croatia

The St Domnius Bell Tower, Split, Croatia

The region then had a long series of alternating invaders and overlords, including the Byzantines and the Venetians among others, for several centuries. Its importance as a major port on one of the busiest trading routes wasn’t lost on any of the major powers.

Split’s history through the 20th century was no less colourful. Enduring world wars, civil wars, and multiple changes in sovereignty, stability finally arrived in the early 1990s.

Today

Today, Split enjoys and embraces an envious balance between its long and glorious history, and its position as a modern, 21st century city.

As a tourist hub, Split not only has a modern airport, but also retains its position as one of the busiest seaports on the Dalmatian coast. There are scores of first class hotels, motels, B&Bs and other accommodation options in addition to hundreds of world-class restaurants and eateries.

Split boasts fantastic produce markets, too, especially along the eastern wall of the old town. Lots of fresh local fruit, vegetables and local handicrafts – including fresh, live snails, if that’s your thing. The people are all amazingly friendly and helpful, and most speak excellent English.

Split, Croatia - along the Croatian Coast National Revival

Split, Croatia – along the Croatian Coast National Revival

Inside the old town are many other craft stalls and other specialty retailers. Many are located along the underground tunnel that runs between the Peristyle of Diocletian’s Palace (near the St Domnius Bell Tower, the tallest structure in the old town) and the south gate. This was once an escape tunnel for Diocletian leading directly to the water. With the modern coast a hundred metres or so further away it’s now  a convenient shortcut from the centre of the old town to the Croatian Coast National Revival, the main pedestrian boardwalk along the harbour.

This walkway has many restaurants, cafes, ice creameries and bars, making for a very convivial and social district. With a view to the south over the stunning azure water of the harbour, this boulevard is an inviting and relaxing spot to take a breather.

The old town area is a tightly packed maze of buildings, including many structures from Diocletian’s time. You can climb the St Domnius Bell Tower, which provides brilliant views of the entire city – just don’t get caught by the bells when they ring! You can also explore the curiously small cathedral of St Domnius itself, and the crypts beneath it.

Trg Republike (Republic Square), also known as Prokurative Square, Split, Croatia

Trg Republike (Republic Square), also known as Prokurative Square, Split, Croatia

To the north and west of the old town are more shopping and cultural attractions, all within easy walking distance. Also to the west, close to the harbour is possibly the biggest physical legacy of Split’s time under French rule. Known to the locals as Prokurative Square, is is officially called Trg Republike (Republic Square). If you’re looking for a great meal, this square boasts many fine restaurants, and there are many others nearby.

Being a seaport, seafood is a natural speciality, as is Italian coffee. Again, all the locals that Teddy encountered were brilliant. Even if nothing else about Split was memorable (and just about everything is!) then the people of Split would still be a highlight.

Travelling further west, if you have a reasonable level of fitness, you can venture up Marjan, the large hill that dominates the western peninsula. A short way up is yet another cafe and restaurant, and further along is the charming small church of St. Nikola, which dates back to the 14th century. You can walk most of the way around the Park Šuma Marjan (Marjan Forest Park) peninsula, and the views are stunning.

As a mix of natural beauty, living history and creature comforts, Split is hard to beat.

(There are more amazing images of Split in the downloads pages.)

Split, Croatia, from the Cafe Vidilica

Split, Croatia, from the Cafe Vidilica

 

 





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