I woke up to booming voices soaring up in the sky and peeped out of my hotel window; part of the Diocletian Palace, to get a better look. A local group – middle-aged men dressed in black and white – was singing in the Vestibul to promote their compilation CD of Dalmatian songs, entertaining an ever-increasing crowd of tourists that had gathered around them. Vestibul, once a grand domed room, now open to the sky, has fantastic acoustics. This was the formal entrance to the imperial apartments.
I sat at the window sill of my room in Vestibule Palace – a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Diocletian Palace – and couldn’t think of a better local experience to start the day. This is a living city, its narrow streets packed with people, cafes, restaurants, bars and boutique stores. Built as a military fortress, imperial residence and fortified town, the Diocletian Palace measures 215m from north to south and 180m east to west, and includes some 220 buildings within the palace boundaries – home to about 3,000 people.
After a sumptuous breakfast at Vestibule Palace, we headed to the cellars. The Diocletian Palace Cellars are one of the best preserved ancient complexes of their kind in the world. In the Roman times, their function was to elevate the Emperor’s chambers on the floor above, but they were also the storage area for the Palace. While there have been numerous additions and structural changes to the old town above, the ancient structure of the cellars still exists.
The Peristil is the remarkable ancient Roman courtyard, in the heart of the Diocletian Palace. Sitting on the steps in the Peristil, sipping a lemon beer or a glass of wine and enjoying the summer buzz would be my top experience in the old town.
“If there are steps in any place, mama would climb”, my daughter chimes. This has become a joke in the family. Well, I admit, I like to climb the bell tower and get a feel of the city spread below. I loved the city views from above in Florence, and in Granada, and was not going to miss them in Split. At 57m, the tower wasn’t as tall as some of the others we have been to, yet my husband decided to take a snooze in the room while my daughter and I climbed all the way up. The Bell Tower was constructed in the year 1100 AD, in the Romanesque style. There are huge gaps in the railing on the steps, and I would urge you to be cautious while taking a child up. We decided to give going to the Cathedral of Saint Dominus a miss.
I feel an entire day is good to get a feel of the old town. But if you do spend another day, Marjan hill seems like a good option to do an activity. Take your pick from cycling, hiking or rock climbing – and get some marvellous views of the entire city of Split. For more suggestions on what to see in Croatia, check out this two week itinerary.
Shweta, our guest travel blogger, runs her own travelogue at zestinatote.com. She, like most women, plays several roles – corporate executive, parent to a six-year old, adventure enthusiast and travel blogger; generally open to trying out new things in life. Besides travel, she loves books, theatre and art. She would like to believe that she is NOT an adventure junkie, but has tried sky diving, rappelling, glacier climbing, trekking, para-gliding, mountain biking, scuba diving and skiing. You can also follow her by checking out her Facebook and Instagram.