Reasons to visit Split in Croatia
By David Elliot
Croatia is a relative newcomer to tourism which means the landscape is still unspoilt by the masses. Usually the cheapest flights to Croatia are low-cost airlines from most major European cities. Summer in Europe is a great time to explore the country especially around the shores of the Adriatic sea in the Mediterranean.
Split in Croatia is one of the more exciting cities to visit in eastern Europe, with a wealth of cultural, historic and natural attractions to enjoy. The roads around the Dalmatian coast are excellent and can be used to get to all the attractions in the region, from the Emperor Diocletian’s palace in Split to the picturesque Croatian towns of Brac and Solta. The Split-Dalmatia countryside is breathtakingly beautiful and Split makes a great base for exploring the whole area by car or bus.
Anyone captivated by the Roman Empire will find Split irresistible. The Emperor Diocletian built his retirement palace here and large sections of it still survive today. When he stunned everyone by abdicating he came to Split and spent his twilightyears growing prize cabbages, apparently he found it most therapeutic after a lifetime of hard campaigning. He dragged his co-Augustus Maximus unwillingly into retirement with him. However Maximus couldn’t adjust to a retired lifestyle after his spell in the imperial sun so he returned to join in the civil war that resulted in Constantine becoming single Emperor and founding Constantinople (now Istanbul).
Split has grown from its ultimate retirement home beginnings into the largest ferry port and city in Dalmatia. Although for decades it was regarded as little more than a transit point on the way to Central Dalmatian resorts and the islands, today it is a major destination in its own right.
Exploring the side streets
The narrow streets of Split guard a great range of cultural treasures, which in past years visitors in a hurry tended to miss as they are effectively hidden by the great palace walls. Modern tourists however regard the journey itself as a main highlight of any short break in croatia and are eager to explore the back alleys and try out quaint little eateries that dot the city and serve fabulous local dishes. Take your time here and you’ll find that Split opens like an exotic bloom and repays your investment many times over.
Things to see in Split
Galleries, boutiques and restaurants are often literally built into the palace walls, mingling a contemporary ambience with a rich sense of history, and it’s surprisingly easy to drive and park in a city that seems to have been constructed with the Medieval version of town planning, i.e. none at all, as its guiding principle.
After popping in to the excellent Mestrovic Art Gallery for some culture and a light lunch of barbecued fish in olive oil with a spinach salad, head for the bizarre Cathedral of St Domnius with its Egyptian sphinx. This is the only surviving one of the original twelve which were placed here by Diocletian himself as part of his mausoleum.
Split is one of the most attractive cities in Europe, rich in history and served by excellent road links to other parts of Croatia, making it equally ideal for a short or long break.