Split is the second – largest city of Croatia and the largest city of the region of Dalmatia. It lies on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. The town is extremely attractive for tourists and it has more than 2700 hours of sunshine a year. The citizens of Split always say 2 things: first, that Split is the most beautiful city and the second one, its women are the most beautiful women in the world. Many tourists tend to agree after taking a walk around its streets and parks, and we are sure that these are enough good reasons to visit this sunny place and make sure if Split citizens are right.
Main article photo by: Joško Tomić
Photo by: Joško Tomić
When we are talking about beginnings of Split, it's known that in 6th century BC there was a Greek colony called Spalathos. In 229 BC this part of Adriatic coast became part of Roman Empire. But officially Split timeline started counting from 295 AD when Roman emperor Diocletian ordered a residence to be built there for his retirement. Turbulent centuries that followed turned the residence into a city, conceived by the fugitive inhabitants of Salona who fled from the Avars and Slavs. Therefore ancient Split started to grow as bigger city.
Many authorities changed in the city. From 7th up to 11th century Split became an administrative capital for Dalmatia province of Byzantium empire. In 1069 Split (Spalato) became part of Croatian kingdom under king Petar Krešimir IV. Soon Croats were forced to enter personal union with Hungarian Kingdom and Split entered in new kingdom but city retains lot of independence. After civil war in Hungarian Kingdom, Split was sold together with all Dalmatia to Venetian Republic and next 377 years it was part of Venetia (from 1420 -1797). After decline of Venetian rule in 1797, Split was ruled by the Austrians and briefly by the French, before becoming part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes that was formed in 1918. In 1941, the city was occupied by the Italians and a very strong resistance movement soon evolved with the city first being liberated in 1943, after the capitulation of Italy. Although then becoming occupied by Germany, it was finally in the October of 1944 that Split was liberated again when the first people’s government of Croatia was formed.
As part of Yugoslavia after World War II, Split experienced substantial growth as government investment in the city saw factories built for a number of different industries. Split did not suffer much damage during the war that broke out in 1991. Since Croatia’s indepdence, Split has suffered as its once strong industry entered into decline although it has recovered somewhat in recent years.
Photo by: Joško Tomić
Thanks to many different attractions, Split is the right destination for people of different ages. For the beginning we should present cultural attractions. The most important cultural attraction is Diocletian Palace which represent one of the best preserved ancient complexes of that kind in the world, and hence are in many ways responsible for the reason the historical core of Split was in 1979 included on the UNESCO'S World Heritage list.
During the time of the emperor, the basement was largely used for storage of foodstuff and wine. Today, the cellars are open to the public, the main hall of the basement houses tacky souvenir stalls where tourists can buy a reminder of their stay in Split. The other areas of the basement reveal a labyrinthine room layout, ideal for an archeological discovery. The basement is also a popular venue for various events such as art exhibitions, weddings, and the International Flower Show held in May. Inside the palace is the Cathedral of St. Duje which is known for many things, but what makes it really particular is the fact that within it is the mausoleum of the Roman emperor, Diocletian. The cathedral's bell-tower is 57 metres high and is a trade mark of the town. Its construction began in the 13th century. Steps lead to the top of the bell-tower from where there is a unique view over the Diocletian palace and the whole of Split. The center of the palace is called Peristil which is today known as a place where numerous theatre performances are played.
One more attraction should be mentioned - the statue of Grgur Ninski. It was made in 1929 by famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović to honour the medieval bishop who fought to use Slavonic instead of Latin language in Croatian churches. The legend says that if you touch Grgur’s toe and make a wish, the wish will come true. Others cultural attraction are The Gripe Fortress, a baroque Venetian fort built in the 17th century and aqueduct built at the end of 3rd and at the beginning of the 4th century. It was built to supply Diocletian Palace with water from the river. The city is proud of a large number of museums as The Franciscan monastery of saint Ante, Archaeological Museum, Cathedral Treasury, Ethnographic Museum, HAS Museum, Natural History Museum, Split City Museum and Split Hall of Fame.
Riva is also a “must see” attraction. Riva is the main city promenade of Split and one of favorite places. It is the perfect place to relax while having a coffee or a beer in one of the many esplanades, with a beautiful view to the Adriatic Sea, from the busy Port of Split till the peaceful Marjan Hill. There are also a lot of natural beauties as parks and beautiful beaches. The most famous two parks are Marjan and Sustipan. Marjan is place where you can enjoy the beaches, play some sports and make picnics, ride a bike or just enjoy the view over all Split. Sustipan is small park near city center and perfect place to spend romantic evenings there. Split is the city with the largest number of Olympic medals per number of inhabitants.
Many of Croatia's top athletes were born and raised here in Split, including swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Đurđica Bjedov, basketball player Toni Kukoč, the best handball player in the world Ivano Balić, high jump champion Blanka Vlašić and many others. As a proof you can take a walk on the west coast where are engraved names of olimpic medal winners. Split can also offer active tourism or adrenaline sports such as speedboat tours, rafting trips, kayaking, bicycle rentals, parasailing, canyoning, horse-riding, snorkelling, zip-lining etc. The young generation won't skip places in the city and its surroundings which are used for many shooting locations of TV serial “Game of Thrones”.
ACCOMMODATION AND TRANSPORT
When choosing accommodation, tourists can pick between large number of hotels, hostels, private accommodation as well as camps, which are located in a suburb of the city of Split. Due to increased tourist visits, it would be advisable to book accommodation before your arrival in the city, because during the tourist season most of the well known accommodation is already booked. If you still haven't made your reservations in time, you will most likely be welcomed by grannys advertising their private accommodation on main city station and try to persuade you that their last minute accommodation is the best.
Split can be reached by plane, train, bus or car. Bus and train stations are located in the city center, while the airport is 24 kilometers out of town, but there are regular bus lines connecting the airport with the city. As far as transportation in the city there is a large number bus lines, taxis and rent- a-car, but for those who only want to visit the city without Split surrounding areas the best option is walking as most of the attractions in the center are close to city center. During the tourist season there is a lot of organized transportations which connects all the tourist attractions.
Photo by: Joško Tomić
WHAT TO DO IN SPLIT
Every typical Split citizen starts his day with a coffee. Split has a very unique coffee culture. Coffee bars are located on every corner of the city and you will always see locals, rain or shine, bathing in the sun while enjoying a coffee with milk. People grab coffee multiple times daily. But be aware, if a Croatian asks you to go for coffee it won't be just a 10 minute coffee break. You might find yourselves sitting there for hours. After morning coffee, it is perfect time to visit the fish market or Pazar - market with fresh local products.
You can spend your afternoons on beautiful beaches. Some of them are Žnjan, Obojena, Kašuni, Bačvice and others, also you should try to play a local game called “picigin”. Picigin is a water sport invented on the sandy beach Bačvice. Whether it's a sunny summer day or a cold winter morning, the players run through water and do all kinds of stunts in order to keep the small ball from falling into the water. It's so unique and popular that the World Picigin Championship is held on Bačvice every year. No better way of acting like a local than playing a sport invented by locals. There are lot of different ways to spend nights in Split. Usually every night starts at Matejuška. Matejuška is a small fisherman’s port on west of Riva and is probably the biggest open-air hangout in Dalmatia, specially during the Summer. People are hanging there usually with a drink bought in the nearby supermarket. Near the coast there are a lot of night clubs where you can stay till the sunrise, and in July the UMF also takes place in Split. UMF is European version of Ultra Music Festival, one of the largest in the world. You can listen some of the best DJs in the world.
Read our blog about most popular Croatian festivals!
If you are in Split during the weekend, you shouldn’t skip Hajduk’s soccer game, the team with more than 100 years long history. If you are shopping for fun there are 2 shopping centers, and the city center is also a good location, precisely the Marmont’s street where a lot of shops take their place. In those shopping centers there are also cinemas so you can spend your nights there too. It would be a shame not to visit the Croatian National Theatre, there are a lot of events which enrich tourist offer during the whole year. In the winter on the Riva there are small wooden houses where you can find mulled wine, traditional schnapps and fritulas (traditional sweets).
During the summer Split organises Diocletian’s days where you can see the city as it was 1700 years ago. At the end we should say two facts which can help you in understanding local people. So, if you ask someone in Split how long would it take to come to some destination (doesn't matter the distance or where you are going), the answer will always be: “You are just 5 min from your destination”. Second thing is “fjaka”. Fjaka is psychophysical state in which human is aspiring for nothing. Common mistake is when people mistakenly compare state of "fjaka" with being lazy. The big difference is that "fjaka" is higher state of mind and body that humanity aspires to achieve. While in India and elsewhere state of "fjaka" is achieved through many years of diet and meditation, in Dalmatia it’s a gift from God.
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