Split is the city of songs, festivals, sports, St Domnius Cathedral and Diocletian’s Palace. Many verses were written about it, Oliver Dragojević, Dino Dvornik and many others who loved this city sang about it. We also fell in love with the city, visited it again this summer and went on a sightseeing tour with our friends. Join us on our tour of this beautiful historic city, which is also referred to as the Flower of the Mediterranean.
A scene like from a postcard will greet you at the viewpoint on Marjan hill. It is a place from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of Split and the waterfront. Don’t miss a walk to the viewpoint and enjoy the panorama, take a photo as a souvenir and have a cup of coffee or eat something in a nearby restaurant. You can reach the viewpoint by stairs from the West Bank. It is also possible to get there by car, but it may be a little more difficult to find parking spot in the surrounding narrow streets.
Fun fact: Split is the second largest city in Croatia, the second largest Croatian port and the third largest passenger port in the Mediterranean.
The entire old, historic city center of Split is actually a large ancient palace. Emperor Diocletian had it built around the year 300 AD as a combination of a luxurious villa and a Roman military camp. The emperor, whose full name was Gaius Valerius Aurelius Diocletianus, resided there after abdication until his death. The southern part was intended for the emperor, the statesmen and the clergy, while the northern part was for the imperial guard, army, servants, various storages and the like. Due to the continuity of life for more than 1,700 years, the palace has been preserved to such an extent that today it represents one of the best-preserved ancient palaces of the Roman Empire. And when you think about it, it’s really amazing how many people have walked the same cobbled streets, squares, corridors throughout the centuries.
The entire historic area of Split, together with Diocletian’s Palace, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1979, even before Rome and Venice.
The Peristyle was the central square of the palace, where Emperor Diocletian appeared before his subjects and the people who celebrated him as the living son of Jupiter. Today, the square is closed on one side by the palaces of the Split noble families Grisogono, Cipci and Skočibušić, and on the other by the cathedral of St. Domnius, whose 57-meter bell tower offers a beautiful view of the whole of Split.
In one corner of the square, you will notice the excellently preserved and over 3,500 years old Sphinx, which Diocletian brought from Egypt.
Today, Peristyle is an ideal place for concerts and theater performances. It is a special experience to sit on its steps, enjoy a drink and the sounds of a local artist’s guitar. It is often a dance floor filled with many tourists. We also had the chance to dance there one summer.
Fun fact: this summer the Peristyle motif is on the special packaging of Vegeta spice. This packaging is also a souvenir, a memory of Split and Peristil, a square that has been gathering people from all over the world for centuries. Just as people have always met and gathered around good and deliciously seasoned food. You can find the can in all the major grocery stores, and in addition to the motif of Split, the cans also have motifs of Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Šibenik and Pula.
From Peristyle you can go up to the Vestibule or you can go down to Diocletian’s cellars. The Vestibule is the old imperial lobby, where people entered the residential part of the palace. It has a square plan on the outside, and a circular plan on the inside.
It is a special experience to listen to the ‘klapa music’ (a form of traditional Dalmatian a cappella singing) in the Vestibule because it is extremely acoustic. In addition to the music stage, today it is also a must-see photo location due to the special architecture, the brightness of the walls and the semicircular niches where the statues used to stand. We can only imagine how fantastic the Vestibule looked with a large dome and a sparkling mosaic of colors.
If you go down the Peristyle stairs, you will come to Diocletian’s cellars. In Roman times, their function was to raise the emperor’s apartment upstairs and to serve as a warehouse. In the Middle Ages, one part was used for housing, and another for the production of wine and oil. Today, there are souvenir shops, painting and sculpture exhibitions. Theater performances and other cultural and social events are often organized there as well. The part of the cellar with the souvenir shops is free to enter and connects the waterfront and the Peristyle, while there is an entrance fee for the other parts of the cellars.
Fun fact: scenes of the popular series ‘Game of Thrones’ were filmed in Diocletian’s cellars.
Stroll the narrow streets of Split, take a break in one of the many cafes or restaurants. Enjoy the moment and the Mediterranean charm of the city.
In Roman times, only the Emperor and members of his family were allowed to use the Golden Gate. The path through that gate from the palace led directly to Salona, the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. Today, everyone passes through those doors, and certainly those who want to see the statue of Gregory of Nin, which is located opposite it, and which was made by the great Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović.
Fun fact: Did you know there is the same statue of the Gregory of Nin, only smaller, in the towns of Nin and Varaždin? The legend says you will have luck if you touch his thumb.
Pjaca is the widely used informal name of the People’s Square. The first thing you will notice on the square is the city clock. It is unique because it has 24 digits instead of 12. On Pjaca, there are palaces of old noble families, the Gothic building of the old town hall, but also one of the oldest bookstores in the world, Morpurgo. The bookstore is still open and looks the same today as it did in 1861. The Central cafe, where Split’s intellectuals gathered and where Split’s tourism began is also located there.
Via Fruit Square (Croatian: Voćni trg) you will reach the waterfront. Fruit Square is another square that the people of Split do not call by its real name. Its official name is The Square of Radić Brothers (Croatian: Trg braće Radić). A market where fruit was sold used to be there, hence the name. On the neighboring square, west of the Fruit Square, vegetables were sold.
You’ll notice an octagonal Venetian tower from the 15th century, a beautiful baroque palace of the Milesi family from the 17th century, and a monument to Marko Marulić, the father of Croatian literature, on the square. The monument is the work of Ivan Meštrović.
Fun fact: Fruit Square was the central location of the filming of the popular Croatian series ‘Velo misto’ (Big town).
The waterfront is a popular meeting place and promenade, a place to have a cup of coffee, take a break or simply socialize. At the beginning of the waterfront there is a bronze model of the city.
We continued our walk along the waterfront towards the West Coast.
THE WEST COAST
The West Coast (Croatian: Zapadna obala) is a popular promenade and a kind of “continuation” of Riva (the waterfront). This promenade connects the waterfront on one side and the ACI marina on the other. In addition to being able to see moored luxury yachts and sailboats, you can enjoy the view of the waterfront and the old town from the West Coast. The promenade is paved with white Brač stone, and on the part leading to the marina, pay attention to the special bronze plaques with the names of famous Croatian athletes, winners of the Olympic medals. All the athletes were either born in Split or were members of Split clubs at the time of winning the medals.
It has been known for a long time that Split is a city of top athletes and in this way they were honored for all the successes with which they simultaneously promoted Croatia and the city of Split. Toni Kukoč, Dino Rađa, Goran Ivanišević, Blanka Vlašić, Siniša and Nikša Skelin are just some of the names, and you can see the whole list here.
More than 200 different sports clubs with around 15,000 athletes are active in the city. In relation to the number of inhabitants, Split is among the cities with the most successful athletes who have won Olympic, world and European medals. On the West Coast, you will come across cafes and restaurants, even a cafe like this one dedicated to sports.
Walking along the West Coast, we came to Sustipan Park, where we had a picnic.
SUSTIPAN AND PICNIC WITH MONET
Social networks connect people. We often witness this and it is a part of our job which makes us very happy. It was the same this time when we saw the Picnic with Monet profile on Instagram and were delighted with their decoration and the idea of a luxurious picnic in Split.
We agreed to meet Jelena and Kimmy at Sustipan. They are the ladies behind this profile and they organize wonderful picnic experiences in Split and the surrounding area. Jelena and Kimmy have been friends since their student days, and this year they started their own business. They welcomed us in this popular park with magical decorations for dining in nature. Everything looked like a scene from a fairy tale.
“Monet was the first one who started painting in nature. These were the days when people started going on picnics so this is where the idea for our name came from” says Jelena adding “…we also like the artistic style and painting outdoors so the name sounded good”. Apart from the whole idea, we especially liked the attention they pay to every detail. The decorations are carefully selected, as are the colors that complement each other perfectly.
You can choose between several packages (Classic, Deluxe, Family, Romantic for 2, High Tea), and also the thematic color of the decorations (Romantic pink, Rustic green or Oriental blue). You can see from the whole set up that a lot of effort and love was invested in the setting. Our picnic was in the colors of the sun and the sea, as they suit this summer season perfectly.
Doesn’t this scene look like it came straight from some artistic canvas?
You can arrange all the details for the picnic itself, as well as the desired location. It’s a great way to mark special occasions. Painting workshops can be organized and, as Jelena and Kimmy told us, engagements are also very popular. In terms of food, they cooperate with many renowned restaurants, but there is always the option for guests to bring their own food if they wish.
A refreshing summer chicken salad was what we had on our picnic. In addition, there were fruit cocktail salads as well as the delicious elderberry and lemon juice. Here is the recipe for the summer chicken salad for two people.
SUMMER CHICKEN SALAD
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley
2 teaspoons of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 tablespoon of Vegeta
Ground pepper as desired
500 g of chicken fillets
Half a head of lettuce
1 large cucumber cut into cubes
2 diced tomatoes
1 red onion cut into slices
1 avocado cut into slices
Pitted olives as desired
Feta cheese as desired
Lemon slices for serving
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a large jug. Pour half of the marinade into a large, shallow dish. Refrigerate the remaining marinade to use as a dressing later.
Add the chicken to the marinade in the bowl and marinate the chicken for 15-30 minutes. While you wait for the chicken, prepare all the salad ingredients and mix them in a large salad bowl.
When the chicken is marinated, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a grill pan over medium heat. Grill the chicken on both sides until golden brown and well done. Let the chicken cool for 5 minutes; slice it and spread it over the salad.
Pour the remaining dressing over the salad. Add feta cheese and serve with lemon slices.
Although Split is full of excellent restaurants, which we had the opportunity to visit on several occasions, this time we wanted a different experience. Picnic with Monet definitely met our expectations and we highly recommend it. In the wonderful ambience of the green oasis of the Sustipan park, we enjoyed the sunset while hanging out with our new friends.
Split has many beaches. Probably the most popular one is Bačvice, with the indispensable ‘picigin’, and trendy Kašjuni. But there is also the one we’d love to mention this time – the one we liked and which seemed to us to be the most ‘Split-like’ – the Jadran beach in Zvončac. It is a beach near the Jadran Sports Club. The beginning of the oldest Jadran water polo club in Split, which was founded back in 1920, is connected to this place.
Everything on that beach exudes sports, perhaps because of the swimming pool in the background and the training in progress or the small, improvised soccer field. On the other hand, everything is equally relaxed and casual. You can feel that certain summer vibe that is absorbed by the sun rays, cocktails and summer hits that echo from the cafe right by the sea. It is possible that it is just our impression, but this combination of sports, music, special energy and, at the same time, natural relaxation perfectly describes Split. Maybe that is one of the reasons why we like to return to Split so much.
Blog is done in cooperation with Podravka
Special thanks to Picnic with Monet