Saturday, April 6, 2013

Diocletian's Palace--Split Croatia

Diocletian was a Roman Emperor who reigned from 284 AD until his abdication in 305. He was the only Roman Emperor to retire from the job of  being Emperor. Originally from the province of Dalmatia, on the east coast of the Adriatic, he had a palace built, between 293 and 305 AD, in Dalmatia near the town of Salona. He occupied this palace from 305 until his death in 311. His palace became the nexus for the growth of a new city, Split. Split is now the second largest city in Croatia. Below is an artist's drawing of the palace at the time of Diocletian.

As you can see it fronts on the sea, which is still true although now there is a sidewalk and some shops abutting the palace. The large octagonal building was Diocletian's mausoleum, now the Cathedral of St Domnius. Just to the left of the mausoleum is an open, sunken area called the peristyle. Diocletian would come out of his quarters, through the peristyle to a vestibule where he would greet visitors. Below is an aerial photograph of the palace  taken in 2012.

 In this photo you can see the mausoleum and the "new" church tower that make up the cathedral. Immediately to the right of the bell tower is the peristyle. This is the largest and most complete Roman palace still in existence.


Above is a view of the palace from the wharf. The shops in front are new. The entrance is straight ahead. This entrance leads into the basement of the palace. The photo below is a closer view of the front of he palace. The part with the columns and the balustrade on top are the original palace.

The photos below were all taken in the palace basement. They hold art shows and do art "installations" there now. The apparent hanging laundry is actually an art installation.

Above is a door in the basement  that leads to a garden area.

I love the plants growing out of the old walls. Below is a view of the church tower from the garden area.

Below is the mausoleum/church and church tower seen from below.

Below is a group of Klapa singers performing in the vestibule. Klapa groups are usually male and they perform a type of music known as Klapa, peculiar to Croatia. They usually sing a cappella. There are a few Klapa female groups that have sprung up recently. New Klapa music is being written and Klapa festivals and competitions are held.

The photo above is taken in the peristyle, I think looking at the entrance to the vestibule. Below is the entrance to the church.

The photo above shows some vendors outside the mausoleum and tower. The photo below is taken while walking around he base of the mausoleum.

Above is a lion in the peristyle. Below is a headless sphinx, from Egypt, about 3000 years old.

The door has a Roman relief sculpture on the side.

Below are street scenes on the palace grounds.

I really like what they have done with the building below.

 Diocletian stabilized the empire with a series of military and administrative reforms. He probably prevented the dissolution of the empire for about 100 years. He is the same emperor who built the baths in Rome that Michelangelo made into a church(see blog post of 3/1/13).  He launched the last great Christian persecution in 302. However, much of the populace ignored it. I am guessing there were too many Christians around by then to be purged without major upheaval. Plus things like "Christians? I know several. They're nice guys. Leave them alone." Galerius rescinded Diocletian's edict in 311. 25 years later there was a Christian Emperor, Constantine, and Christianity became the state religion. Below is a bust of Diocletian.

Split as seen from the ship as we are sailing away.

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