Historic Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian
Location and site
Facing the Adriatic Sea and the Italian Peninsula, the historic city of Split is constructed in a harbour bay on the Dalmatian coast.
Split’s two medieval urban nodes, which are comparable in area (one is 30,000 sq.m. and the other is 20,000 sq.m.), touch each other. Both contain a network of narrow lanes around public squares. On the site of Diocletian’s palace, which has the form of an irregular rectangle, the disposition of the medieval streets respects the ancient Roman structure and its roads. The plan of the neighbouring node, on the other hand, exemplifies a more spontaneous medieval spatial organisation.
A colonnade and its arcatures embellish the maritime facade of this city-palace, over which a series of houses were transplanted during the time of the Venetians. Inside the fortication wall, the streets are bordered with the remains of Roman columns. The palace’s peristyle has been transformed into a large square and the emperor’s mausoleum has been made into a Cathedral. Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque monuments have been integrated into this ancient setting.
The Diocletian Palace exerted considerable influence by defining a model of an imperial residence which was applied by Constantine in his renovation of the city of Trier and by Charlemagne in his creation of the palatial ensemble of Aix-la-Chapelle. Certain vestiges of the palace served, in the 18th century, as important models for Neoclassical architecture. (II) The only Romanesque imperial residence to be occupied continuously, Diocletian’s city-palace remains one of the living testimonies to Roman civilisation. (III) Split illustrates the influence of ancient structures on the development of the city intra-muros and extra-muros and is thus one of the most continuous references of urban history. (IV)
- Following his abdication in 305 A.D., Diocletian, Emperor of the East, settled in the palace that he had erected on the site of an ancient Greek colony near his birthplace, Salone. The palace, which was surrounded by a wall, combined the features of a “castrum” and an imperial residence.
- After the death of the emperor, the site never ceased to be occupied.
- In 614, when Salone was destroyed by the Avars, the palace, which served once again for refuge, took the form of a city and of a new centre for the Dalmatian Church. Places of worship were constructed. In the 10th and 11th centuries, when Split was under nominal Byzantine rule and the Croatian kings were present. A medieval city rose up among the ruins. In the 13th century, a second urban node developed west of the palace fortification.
- From the 12th century until the 15th century, Split was a free city which was annexed to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A wall was built around its new urban node.
- From 1420 until 1797, the city was under the rule of the Venetians, who surrounded both parts of the expanded city by a single wall. Since the height of the Middle Ages, its layout has been stable.
Mr. Andro Krstulovic Opara
Mayor of the City of Split
City Hall of Split
Grad Split Obala Kneza Branimira 17
+385 21 310 252
Mr. Nikola Aleksic
International Relations Officer
City of Split
City Hall of Split Grad Split Obala Kneza Branimira 17
+385 21 310-437