Split is a town that was initially developed around the Diocletian palace (a fortress built for the Roman monarch Diocletian) where the locals sought refuge centuries ago. In spite of initial appearances, the town is not a little vacationer town, and stretches over a spacious area well beyond the medieval core. Apart from the sightseeing in Split the town makes an exceptional starting point for checking out the wonders of Dalmatia region not to mention the several islands that lie just offshore. From Split, you can simply explore islands of Brac and Hvar by ferry all year round.
The Peristyle is a square located on the crossroads of two main roads from antiquity, which intersect the Palace in the direction east-west (Decumanus) and north-south (Cardo). Always vibrant and filled with people, it is a true gem for the visitors.
The main sight on the Peristyle is a glorious Cathedral of Saint Dominus, which is located on the former site of Diocletian’s mausoleum. There is a black sphinx in front of the entrance, which is another reminder on Diocletian and his love towards those mythical creatures.
The Peristyle is surrounded by Grisogono-Cipci Palace from the west. Its name clearly indicates that it belonged, and partially still belongs, to noble families. The palace can easily be recognized by old ‘indented’ arches, where caffe bar Luxor (styled as ‘Lvxor’) is located. Many world caterers would envy for this amazing location.
If you move to the north, you’ll reach the Golden Gate, but before, you’ll pass near the Church of Saint Roch, where from 2010 tourist info center is located. The southern path leads through the Vestibule towards the Cellars and Riva.
Besides the sights, the Peristyle is famous for its cheerful atmosphere. You can find many street performers and entertainers, so during the summer, you can also find popular ‘Roman legionnaires’ there. Check out some of the accommodation options close to the Peristyle Square at this great website
Antonio Bajamonti, the mayor of Split from 1860 to 1880, remained known in history as a politician with problematic autonomist stances, but also for some interesting projects. The most impressive that stands still today are Prokurative.
The project began on 27th December 1859, when Bajamonti opened Teatro Bajamonti, a theater with impressive dimensions, which was ruined in the fire in 1882. Still, the construction was later reconstructed, but in a somewhat different shape. Today, City Youth Theater is located in that area.
Between 1863 and 1867, western ‘extension’ was built, which is a wing of theater, and from 1909 to 1928 (with interruptions) the eastern wing was built. A horseshoe shape was formed, which obviously reminds of Prokurative on the Venetian Saint Mark’s Square.
Thus, the whole square i usually called Prokurative, even though its official name is Republic Square. It is a nice area with neo-renaissance architecture which is ideal for musical and theatrical performances, and is among others from 1967 the site of Split Festival.
The Golden Gate in Split
The Golden Gate were built in the 4th century and was used as the main entrance to the Palace so Diocletian himself used them to enter the Palace after his dethroning in 305. The road from Salona (today Solin), the administrative center of the province, was leading to the Golden Gate. The door had rich decoration and in the niche there were monuments of Diocletian and other members of the tetrarchy – Maximilian, Galerius and Constantin.
They were originally located between the two towers. They were defending the northern entrance to the city with four more towers. It is interesting that above the Golden Gate there is another small church. It is the Church of Saint Martin, built in the hall for the guards, probably in the 6th century. Those kind of sacral objects were built between other city gates too, but were ruined in the meantime.
In the Church of Saint Martin, there is a well preserved pre-Romanesque altar septum from the 11th century, which is the best example of this kind of object in Dalmatia and beyond. Today, the church is a part of the women’s Dominican monastery and is not opened for public.