Splît, Croatia

Splît overlooks the cerulean-blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. Strolling among the inviting cafés of its wide seaside promenade provides a window into the Dalmatian lifestyle. The second-largest city in Croatia, Splît is one of the oldest population centers along the Adriatic, originally founded as a Hellenistic Greek settlement around the 6th century B.C.

Splît has literally been built around its most famous building, the Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian. One of the empire’s most effective leaders, he built this impressive structure as his retirement sanctuary in the 4th century. The city grew up around the remains of the palace in the 11th century, and came under Venetian rule in the 14th century. During this time, Splît was infused with Western languages and cultures. The city was captured by Napoleon in 1806 and was briefly ruled by the French before falling under Austrian control until the end of World War I. In 1918, Splît joined the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

When Dalmatia’s official capital, Zadar, became an Italian enclave in 1920, Splît assumed preeminence in the region. During World War II, Splît was annexed by fascist Italy until it was liberated in 1944 as the People’s Republic of Croatia under Communist Yugoslav rule. Croatia gained independence in 1991 after the fall of Yugoslavia. Despite the fact that Splît was the base of Yugoslavia’s naval and military operations during that conflict, the city suffered minimal damage, which allowed many of its historic treasures to survive.

Splît Lifestyle and Culture

Croats revel in the magnificent natural world that surrounds them, from the coast to the mountainous interior. But it’s not only locals who admire all this natural beauty; it is also renowned the world-over and the region surrounding Splît hosts some of the most beautiful sights in the country. At the UNESCO-listed Plitvice Lakes, a series of lakes descends down a stunning hillside, each connected by cascading waterfalls. Splît is also home to Krka National Park, where you’ll find Croatia’s most famous and beautiful waterfalls, including the Skradinksi Buk Falls.

Splît Sights and Landmarks

The city of Splît seamlessly integrates the ruins of Diocletian’s Palace, constructed by the Roman Emperor in the late 3rd to early 4th century. It is the city’s most famous and most omnipresent attraction, a remnant of Splît from the height of its power. The Palace of Diocletian is one of the most historically significant buildings on the Adriatic Coast and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The original structure was modified in the Middle Ages to accommodate the city’s evolving infrastructure.

One of its greatest modifications was the conversion of Diocletian’s Mausoleum into the Romanesque cathedral of Splît’s patron saint, St. Dominus. The building’s current use is ironic, given that Diocletian was a notorious persecutor of Christians. It was converted to a cathedral in the 7th century and today is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that is still being used in its original state. The structure’s original shape remains, but the central area devoted to the emperor's sarcophagus was destroyed.

The Ethnographic Museum is located within Diocletian’s Palace. It was founded in 1910 as the first Croatian museum of ethnography. Its fascinating exhibits provide an in-depth view of the history and culture of Croatia via a wide range of Dalmatian folk clothing, embroidery, jewelry and weaponry. You’ll also gain insight into the area’s traditional trades like wood carving and pottery.

Set within medieval walls on an island enclave, the tiny and ancient town of Trogir makes for a relaxing day trip from Splît. The town’s orthogonal, labyrinthine street plan dates back more than 2,300 years, making Trogir a wonderful example of a medieval city built upon a Hellenistic settlement’s pre-existing layout. Trogir was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

Head just offshore to explore the beautiful island of Čiovo, where pine trees huddle around the shoreline at Duga Uvala Beach. Along the sheltered bay, you'll find hotels and beachside cafés, while traditional rural villages and farms spread inland. The land here is largely underdeveloped, offering stretches of unspoiled beaches and coastline.

The small town of Skradin is one of the oldest in Croatia and is best known as the gateway to Krka National Park. Skradin sits just outside the park, and its rustic stone architecture complements the untouched natural beauty nearby.

An unspoiled national treasure, Krka National Park is a vast and captivating stretch of protected land along the Krka River. It is beloved by locals and visitors for its variety of flora and fauna, as well as for some of Croatia's most famous waterfalls. Though the park was established in 1985, certain areas have been protected since the 1940s.

Considered to be some of the most attractive calcium-carbonate waterfalls in Europe, the Skradinski Buk waterfalls are among the most famous and sought-after sights in Croatia. Skradinski Buk is composed of 17 tiered cascading falls, spanning 328 feet at the widest point.

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