We experienced two different versions of Split: one, on the damp afternoon of a mostly pouring rainy day; the other, on the following day filled with sunshine. One could say that Split has a split personality.
On the rainy day, there were only one or two bedraggled sellers out with their wares at the green market. The long line of canvas kiosks against the North wall of the palace were walls down and tied up tight. The waterfront coffee bars displayed rows upon rows of empty chairs and tables. The inner palace plazas were empty except for the odd giant umbrella closed and tied up tight against the bluster.
Then on our second day, the sun came out. The green market was alive with sellers and buyers, tables overflowing with oranges, lettuces, dried fruits and squash. The canvas kiosk walls were rolled up with goods spilling out into the walkways–bags and jeans, shoes and souvenirs. The coffee bar seating along the promenade was full of people chatting, smoking, and quaffing their favorite caffeinated or alcoholic beverage. It wasn’t summer-level active, but it did give us a glimpse of what summer in Split would be like.
Almost all of the “must-sees” in Split are in and around Diocletian’s Palace and the rest of the old town where many of Split’s citizens live, work, and socialize.
Caveat: We are awed by the age of some of the structures we’ve been seeing (third century? really?), we appreciate the architectural lines and feats of engineering, and many of the materials used are beautiful. Beyond that, though, we are not big history buffs and these posts are not history lessons–you’ll need to do your research elsewhere if you want to know more.
Though we didn’t pay for the underground tour of Diocletian’s Palace (I’m not sure it was even open), you can walk through this section where a few kiosks sell to tourists.
The Peristil (or courtyard) seems a mishmash of architectural eras and styles.
Payment is required to enter Diocletian’s Mausoleum and Jupiter’s Temple. We ran into someone in the street who was completely moved by her visit to the mausoleum, so we decided to pay the price to go in (50 kuna each, or about $10 CAD). (She might just have been a very good actor. Hmmm.)
I felt a little cheated because, behind the heavy crimson curtain at the door to the mausoleum was scaffolding, a large tent, and industrial lighting supporting the several people who were inside working on restoration projects. And when we got to the tiny Jupiter’s tomb smoke from the attendant standing just outside the doorway filled the room, making it impossible for me to stay.
Everywhere inside the palace walls, the tiny corridors offer views of the many historic sites.
Outside the palace walls is a modern and beautiful seaside town.
Split’s transportation is unusual in that the train station, ferry port, and bus station are all right by the old town center. This makes traffic a nightmare during the busy months, but is also very convenient for travelers.
Our AirBnB was in a great spot–the green market was just a few blocks away, and the fish market a little farther at the other end of the old town. Everything was completely walkable from this location.
Though there are lots of parking spaces on the streets–some pay, some free–they were chock-a-block full in January. I would not bring a car to Split during high season.