Diocletian's Palace

Split, Croatia

Considered to be one of the most imposing Roman ruins, Diocletian’s palace is certainly the main attraction of the city of Split. The ruins of palace, built between the late 3rd and the early 4th centuries A.D., can be found throughout the city. Today the remains of the palace are part of the historic core of Split, which in 1979 was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

While it is referred to as a 'palace' because of its intended use as the retirement residence of Diocletian, the term can be misleading as the structure is massive and more resembles a large fortress: about half of it was for Diocletian's personal use, and the rest housed the military garrison.

Architecture

The palace has a form of an irregular rectangle with numerous towers on the western, northern, and eastern facades. The southern façade has no towers, because it was rising directly from the waters of the sea. The design of the palace is a mix of villa and castrum architecture. The Emperor’s apartments were located on the southern part of the complex - along the seaside.

Only the foundation and lower floors of these apartments have survived to our days. Diocletian’s octagonal mausoleum (later was reconstructed into a Christian church - one of the oldest in the world) and 3 temples were also located in the southern part of the palace. One of the temples was later turned into a baptistery, the other two were destroyed.

On the crossroad of the two main roads of the palace, the so called Peristyle is located. The Peristyle is a rectangular open court decorated with colonnade and intended to become the heart of the palace, where the most powerful Roman citizens were gathering. 

Here and there in the palace one can find antiques, including three 3500 years old sphinxes, brought to Split from Egypt for the Emperor.

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