Diocletian’s Palace

sights / Historic

Diocletian’s Palace information

Split , Croatia
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Facing the harbour, Diocletian’s Palace is one of the most imposing Roman ruins in existence and where you’ll spend most of your time while in Split. Don’t expect a palace though, nor a museum – this is the city's living heart, its labyrinthine streets packed with people, bars, shops and restaurants. Built as a military fortress, imperial residence and fortified town, the palace measures 215m from north to south and 180m east to west, altogether covering 38,700 sq metres.

Although the original structure has been added to continuously over the millennia, the alterations have only served to increase the allure of this fascinating site. The palace was built in the 4th century from lustrous white stone transported from the island of Brač, and construction lasted 10 years. Diocletian spared no expense, importing marble from Italy and Greece, and columns and sphinxes from Egypt.

Each wall has a gate at its centre, named after a metal: the Golden Gate (north), Bronze Gate (south), Silver Gate (east) and Iron Gate (west). Between the eastern and western gates there’s a straight road (Krešimirova; also known as Decumanus), which separates the imperial residence on the southern side, with its state rooms and temples, from the northern side, once used by soldiers and servants.

There are 220 buildings within the palace boundaries, home to about 3000 people. The narrow streets hide passageways and courtyards, some deserted and eerie, others thumping with music from bars and cafes, while the local residents hang out their washing overhead, kids play football amid the ancient walls, and grannies sit in their windows watching the action below.