Croatia's living museum

The world-famous Diocletian’s Palace appeared on the Adriatic coast more than 1700 years ago when the area’s beauty compelled the famous Roman emperor, Diocletian, to build his residence. Today, Diocletian’s Palace is the center of the modern city of Split, which grew around the palace. It attracts many visitors who seek a relaxing, enjoyable time and is a must-visit site in Central Dalmatia for all who are interested in history.

Diocletian’s Palace is one of the world’s best-preserved Roman architecture monuments, combining a luxury villa-summer house and military camp. Emperor Diocletian built the palace around 300 and resided there after his abdication from the throne in 305 until he died in 316.

After Diocletian’s death, the palace transformed over the first centuries of its life. First, it provided refuge to exiled members of the imperial family. When Salona, the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia, was demolished in the early 6th century, part of the exiled population found refuge within the palace walls, and a new, organized life for the city began.

Today, the palace forms the very center of the old part of Split, where people still live today. Perhaps this fascinates the tourists who wander the narrow streets that have been traveled for more than 1700 years.

Although it was originally built as the emperor’s mansion, no one, not even Emperor Diocletian himself, could have imagined that life would continue inside the palace for many centuries after his death. Over the millennia, the palace’s inhabitants and subsequently the citizens of Split have adapted these spaces to suit their needs, but the exterior outline of the emperor’s palace is still evident.

The palace holds many attractions that were once integral to everyday life. One of the most impressive is the Saint Dominus Cathedral (Sveti Dujam or Duje), built as the emperor’s mausoleum. The bell tower added in the 13th century is considered one of the earliest examples of medieval Dalmatian construction.

The palace also has beautiful facades, and the Gold, Silver, Iron, and Brass Gates serve as impressive entrances. Many claim the Temple of Jupiter to be one of the most beautiful monuments in Europe. The central square of the palace is the Peristyle, which citizens of the city hold of as the center not only of Split but the entire world. The palace cellars are one of the best-preserved ancient complexes of this kind in the world. Diocletian’s palace cellars also served as one of the sets for the filming of Game of Thrones.

Because of all the preserved palace structures and their historical value, Diocletian’s Palace was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.

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