Diocletian’s Palace in Split

palais de Dioclétien
Diocletian’s Palace

The Diocletian’s Palace is a very well preserved ancient ruin. It was the residence of the emperor Diocletian after he retired. This monument, located in the historical center of Split, is now a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Presentation of the palace

Built around the year 300 AD, the palace was originally a large 250m x 180m rectangle and is one of the most important monuments in Croatia. It is particularly well preserved and is considered to be the finest example of Roman architecture on the Adriatic coast.

The emperor, who wanted to get closer to his native town Solin, decided to build an architectural structure in line with the tetrarchy ideology (a beautiful residence, his own mausoleum and a temple).

A fortress and a luxury villa at the same time

Built like a Roman country villa, the complex has four towers, one at each corner and solid walls connecting them. Three of them are still standing today, after surviving the ravages of time and man.

The outer walls are all different from each other. The southern wall faces the water and only has a small entrance: this is the current entrance to the old town of Split. The north, east and west walls are more fortified and the entrance doors are more imposing. The interior is organized in the Roman style. The master’s apartments are to the south and have an arched gallery. The northern half was used by the emperor’s staff (men-at-arms and servants).

Over the centuries, especially in the Middle Ages, the palace was progressively occupied by the population. The houses and businesses filled the place and then extended beyond the walls of the building. It became the seat of local decisions after the fall of Salone. Later, in the 17th century, new walls were erected on the borders of the new city.

split palais diocletien
Diocletian’s Palace

What to see at the Diocletian’s Palace?

  • The peristyle: The heart of the palace is now used for various festive events. The emperor appeared there from the pediment allowing him to be above the crowd.
  • The cellars of the Palace of Diocletian: The cellars are very large vaulted rooms. Some of them were transformed into places of worship by the Christians that Diocletian persecuted. We can imagine the rooms above the cellars depending on the ceiling.
  • The cathedral: It has an octagonal shape and a bell tower whose function changed over the centuries. The building was not a place of worship originally. The emperor’s remains were buried here before the Christians took over and transformed the place.
  • The museums : The city museum within the palace offers a glimpse of the opulent lifestyle of the people of the time. The ethnographic museum is located in the oldest medieval palace in the city.
  • The city walls: The north wall is the most interesting with its corner towers.
  • The decumanus, the temple, the aqueducts: Along this line, you can find the ruins of the thermal baths and some columns of the aqueduct. The temple is still standing. The 10 km long aqueduct brought up to 1 million m3 of water per day. That was enough to meet the running water needs of the population and to fill the two thermal baths in the emperor’s apartments.