The old town of Split, Croatia centers around the ancient and magnificent Palace of Diocletian. However this palace could easily be mistaken as a fort, since it encompasses nearly half of the old town. The palace began construction under the orders of Diocletian around 295 and was to serve as a retirement home for the emperor.
Diocletian has held a special place in many people’s heart over the years in this region. He was not born into a royal family with a silver spoon in his mouth, but rather into a lower status family. Over the years he steadily rose through the ranks of the military until he achieved the title of cavalry commander to Emperor Carus. However, not long after, the lives of Carus and his son Numerian were claimed in Persian campaigns. After defeating his sole surviving son in battle, Diocletian was declared emperor of Rome in 284. Under Diocletian’s reign, the Roman Empire enjoyed a time of stability and progress in both civil and political matters. During Diocletian’s reign the largest and most bureaucratic government the world has ever seen was created in the Roman Empire. In 305, Diocletian chose to retire to his place of origin in the region of Dalmatia. He would not, however enjoy his retirement in peace, as he was forced to watch the entire governmental system he had devised crumble. People would soon after, plead with Diocletian to return to power and stabilize the conflicts created through Constantine’s rise to power, but he refused. In 311, Diocletian passed on, thought to have committed suicide in a deep depression. His legend will never be forgotten in the magnificent walls of the palace that housed him in his final years and now houses many in Split.
While the Old Town of Split has drastically changed from the days of Diocletian’s reign there are still many gorgeous structures standing today that give lend generously to one’s imagination of what life may have been like in those days.
The main square of Diocletian’s Palace has now been repurposed as a social gathering point where locals and visitors alike can enjoy live music, food and beverages.
Overall, the Old Town of Split is a wonderful and rare place where one can enjoy modern life within the remnants of hundreds of years of history and culture.