Split

Split Croatia by CC user brownpau on Flickr

Introduction

Allergic to rain and gray days? If this sounds like you, then Split is the cure, as its 2,800 hours of sunshine per year mean that you will likely not be deprived of your dose of Vitamin D on holiday. The Roman Emperor Diocletian made certain that the remainder of his days would be spent in the bright Croatian sun; despite the passage of time, you’ll find the largely intact remains of his retirement palace here, setting the table for what might just be your favorite destination in this country.

Diocletian's Palace by CC user carolemage on Flickr

Cultural Experiences

If you only have time to focus on one attraction during your time in Split, be sure to lavish it on Diocletian’s Palace. Being the former retirement home of the Roman emperor of the same name in the early 4th century AD, its sweeping grandeur may make you wonder any person could justify having that much space for themselves.

However, half of this complex was also home to a Roman military regiment, which explains its massive size. After it was abandoned by the Romans after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, local Slavs slowly took up residence in the buildings within the bounds of the walls, a development that prevented further deterioration of much of the original stonework within.

While many columns and pillars that existed back in Diocletian’s day have decayed to how they appear elsewhere in the former Roman Empire today, much of the stone pavement laid down by the Romans remains today as it was when it was laid down 1,700 years ago.

If you have a bit more time before hopping on a ferry to one of the islands offshore, drop in on the Cathedral and Bell Tower of St. Domnius, which is the oldest Catholic Church in the world in terms of continuous use.

Blessed and christened well back in the 7th century AD, 1,400 years worth of sermons have been delivered and hymns have been sung within its tony walls, making it a highlight for devout Christians of all stripes.

Those that have a great deal of appreciation for a well-sculpted statue will be pleased by what they find at the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery, which is the home to the life’s work of one of Croatia‘s (and Europe’s) best sculptors. Almost all the pieces on display are by this eminently talented artist, which also includes drawings, furniture and architecture pieces and plans.

Even the building that his works are housed in is quite extravagant, so those that have an appreciation for the fine things in life should make doubly sure that this spot is firmly engraved on their Split itinerary.

Brela Beach by CC user brian395 on Flickr

Other Attractions

Does nature appeal to you more than high art? If so, be sure to bring a beach towel and a good book to Brela Beach, a striking pebble beach that ranks among the best in all of Europe. This popularity can lead to a less than ideal experience for some at the peak of high season, so if crowds turn you off, consider coming from May to mid-June, and then from September to the end of October to ensure that you have the space you require to have a good experience at Brela Beach. Braving the crowds is well worth it, as the sparkling clear water is among the best in the world.

After a productive day of alternately sunning and cooling yourself off at Brela Beach, head down to Riva Harbor, as this is the place where your average Splitian heads to socialize on evenings and weekends.

Being a seaside promenade lined with cafes and bars with outdoor patios, it is the ideal place to watch the sun sink into the horizon with a tall pint of beer, or with a cup of coffee and a side of cake.

If you are on a quick trip to Croatia and you don’t have time to spend a few days on one of the Croatian islands, there are sailing day tours to popular spots like Brac and Hvar, which lie within easy reach of Split.

The latter is home to a town that started as a Roman settlement and later became a key port in the marine-oriented Venetian Empire, while the former is home to the Blaca Monastery and the world famous Zlatni Rat Beach, which is famous for jutting out into the Adriatic Sea like a white spear jutting out into its depths.

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