Picturesque Split lies on the center of the Dalmatian coast between the sea and the mountains. It’s an ancient town built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
The Emperor’s Palace was built in the 3rd century and is the focus of our visit to Split. Just beyond the facade you see above was Diocletian’s walkway under arches stretching 600 feet in each direction.
The palace is an engineering marvel. As you enter this lower space you have to understand that this great area was built just to support the emperor’s living space above, echoing it exactly. He wanted to have his quarters and walkways literally touch the edge of the Adriatic.
To accomplish that he had crews of workers build wooden rooms into the slope of the Adriatic shore and push out the walls while evacuating the water to make space for these support structures that mirror the spaces above. They needed s0 much material that they even developed an ancient mass production system that speeded up the process.
Perhaps this was the place where Daenerys Targaryen’s’ dragons entered and were held. For our “Game of Thrones” devotees, many of the scenes were filmed here (we think during season six). Much of the “Game’s” scenes were filmed in Croatia. More about it later…if we remember (remind us).
Not much of the original palace remains above the vaulted basement, but what does is extraordinarily graceful and a marvel of architecture and engineering.
Diocletian ruled as empower for an extraordinary 20 years – A.D. 284 to 305 and actually retired here – very unusual for an emperor. He lived to be c.75 in an age where the average age for men was in the low to mid forties.
The palace took only 11 years to build. More than 2,000 slaves died during construction.
Exiting the palace we get serenaded by a group of Dalmatian musicians. They were good, but we skipped the CDs.
Instead, we walked the farmers’ market just outside the gates where they were selling these really fresh, skinny asparagus, local strawberries and cherries. A 1/2 kilo of cherries helped ease any infrequent hunger pains.
Lunch on the Riva, overlooking the Adriatic was ok…the bread was good, but hard to taste the one slice of prosciutto and the bit of lettuce. Not indicative of the delicious food in the area. But we laughed ourselves silly watching a clown following and imitating strollers along the walk. (Unfortunately photos of the clown didn’t download, but we’ll add them in the addendum when we get home).
Now we drove a couple of hours down the coast until this vista of romantic Dubrovnik opened up.
We stopped the coach for a vista of the area and the old city before heading down to our hotel on the waterfront.
The weather has really been cooperating, even though each day’s prediction has been for overcast, rain and much cooler than we’re experiencing. We’ll cross our fingers for the next few days here. tomorrow we’ll be touring the old city and walking its 3 km wall. Put on your walking shoes and let’s go.