Split, the city within a city
While you may have heard of another popular city in Croatia – due in great part to a certain American Fantasy Drama that shall remain nameless (rhymes with Name of Tones) – have you heard of Split? The ancient city – with two millennia of history – sits smack dab in the middle of the long Adriatic coast that is Croatia. If you’re looking to hop around Europe, Split is a great base for your stay. Helsinki, Stockholm and Dublin are all cities to which Split’s SPU offers direct flights – along with a couple dozen other European cities. Not to mention crossing over to Italy is doable via scenic drive along the coast or via boat!
If Split’s logistic situation alone isn’t inspiring you to immediately book your stay, listen to some of what comes to mind when thinking of the historic town in the Balkan Peninsula.
“Clear water beaches, day trips to islands, ultra fresh local seafood, and tons of konobas are what make up the ancient Dalmatian town”.
With a hearty local population (always a good sign!), never ending coastline and an incredibly rich and well-preserved history, it’s no wonder the Roman emperor Diocletian chose Split to build his final home.
We wouldn’t be talking about Split if Diocletian’s Palace wasn’t mentioned fairly early on. To call this “City within a City” a Palace is a bit deceiving as it is much more reminiscent of a massive fortress – half of which housed a military. The stunning limestone palace is bigger than two football fields and took several years and thousands of slaves to build. This UNESCO site is one of the world’s most complete and well-preserved Roman palaces and its central square – the peristyle or peristil – now serves as a stage for a host of live performances. The square is always bustling with performers and you can grab a drink nearby to sip on as you enjoy the shows.
Once you start to get hungry, pop into one of the many konobas. Konobas are similar to Spain’s tapas bars in that they are scattered all about and serve the most authentic local wine and cuisine. The word can be translated to mean cantina or pub, but what it really refers to is the room in which food and its preparation tools were historically kept. Usually this was underground or at highest, on the ground floor. To this day the tools used to cultivate and preserve food in these “basements” still decorate their walls. Traditionally, the “restaurants” were a part of the welcoming croatian culture, not made to earn profit. Nowadays, in order to stay competitive in a saturated market, many now offer lots of other foods and beverages not typical to the region.
Speaking of what is typical to this region, remember that limestone that Diocletian’s Palace is made of (of course you do!)? It was sourced from the quarries of Brac Island, one of the several islands a short boat ride away.
If you only have time for one island, Brac is a must. There are tons of other islands and things to do near Split, but you’ll have to research those once you’ve booked your trip!