Palace of Diocletian built between 295 and 305 AD at Split (Spalato), Croatia, by the emperor Diocletian as his place of retirement.
It consisted of an immense rectangle surrounded on three sides with walls guarded by towers; on the fourth it was protected by the sea. The palace itself was on the south side with a great gallery (51 windows) overlooking the sea. It is the largest and best-preserved example of Roman palatial architecture, representing a transitional style half Greek and half Byzantine.
It was built as an imperial city- palace and a sea fortress, as well as a country house of vast proportions and magnificence, covering an area of 7 acres. The north-south walls extended 705 feet, with walls measuring 7 feet thick and 72 feet high on the Adriatic side and 60 feet high on the north. There were 16 towers (of which 3 remain) and 4 gates: Porta Aurea (Golden Gate) in the north, Porta Argentea (Silver Gate) in the east, Porta Ferrea (Iron Gate) in the west, and Porta Aenea (Bronze Gate) in the south. The roughly rectangular ground plan was like that of a Roman military camp – i.e., with two main streets, Cardo/Dioklecijanova UI. (N-S) and Decumanus/Poljana Kraljice Jelene (E-W), 36 feet wide meeting in the middle, create four quarters. Guards, slaves, and household servants were accommodated in the northern quadrants. The imperial apartments (state rooms) were in the two southern quadrants, along the width of which ran a 524 feet long and 24 feet wide arcaded grand gallery (probably for promenades and the display of art) that was open to scenic views of the sea and the Dalmatian coast. The Temple of Jupiter and the mausoleum of Diocletian were located in courts of the imperial section. The mausoleum was converted to a cathedral in 653 AD by the first bishop of Split. The Temple of Jupiter was subsequently transformed into a baptistery. And a beautiful Romanesque campanile was added in the 14th and 15th centuries. The palace was damaged by the Avars, who sacked nearby Solin (Salona) about 614 AD; its inhabitants first fled to the islands but then returned to seek refuge in the palace (620 AD), calling the settlement Spalatum. They built their homes within the 7 acres palace compound, incorporating its walls and pillars. The palace is still thought of by the inhabitants of Split as the city centre and not a museum: The cathedral and baptistery are in use, the Peristil court is a popular meeting place, shops occupy the Roman arcades, and the main market is just outside the east gate of the palace. Tourists can see architectural remains of all periods from Roman times onward while walking under the laundry lines of the modern citizens. (http://www.visitsplit.com/15663/en/)
Porta Septemtrionalis is its Roman name. Golden Gate was used by the emperor Diocletian when he first entered the Palace on June 1st, 305 AD. It was built in a rectangular shape, with double gates 9 x 9 meters in dimension, as a part of defensive field works (propugnaculum). Its front was decorated with niches that used to feature the sculptures of four provincial rulers tetrarchs (Diocletian, Marksimian, Galerius and Constantine Klor).
Porta Orientalis is its Roman name. It continues the shape of rectangular propugnaculum that opens up towards the main street, decumanus, which continues west towards “Pjaca”, traditionally the central local meeting place. Silver Gate was more modestly decorated than the Golden Gate. During the Middle Ages the Silver Gate was walled up for security reasons, and right next to its small city gates were made in 1764, still in use today. It is worth mentioning that from Silver Gate starts the authentic Roman walkway- decumanus – so that every passerby can feel the sense of the Roman Boulevard that was once used by imperial chariots.
Porta Occidentalis is its Roman name. Through the Iron Gate, life of the 17th century was passed by each day. Ever since it was opened it bears witness to Illyrian, Greek, Roman and also Avar, Slav, Turkish, Italian, French and other groups, until today when the sound of the renaissance clock tower marks the passage of home-grown Croatian genes.
【Brass Gate】— the original small entrance to the Palace basements
Porta Meridionalis is its Roman name. As a gate facing the rage of the sea, it is entirely different from the other three. First of all with its more modest dimensions, then because it served the subterranean areas. Today the Brass Gate is the main entrance to the Palace because it used by tourists at the start of guided tours.
【主教寧斯基雕像 Grgur Ninski】
舊城區以北，金門(Golden Gate)城牆外的Strosmajerov Park內，有一個腳趾頭發亮的銅像，用以紀念同名的西元十世紀克羅埃西亞主教。寧斯基主教拒絕羅馬帝國的同化，堅持使用克羅埃西亞自己的語言和文字進行宗教彌撒，被視為民族英雄主教。銅像是克羅埃西亞最有名的雕塑家伊凡‧梅什托維契(Ivan Mestrovic)在西元1929年的作品。據說摸摸他的左腳大拇指便會帶來幸運，所以當然被大家摸的亮晶晶的。自西元1957年豎立後，已經成為斯普利特(Split)的象徵標誌之一。
【聖多米努斯大教堂 Cathedral of St. Doimus – The Mausoleum of Diocletian】教堂所在的位置就是戴克里先皇帝的陵寢，因為他生前坑殺過數千名基督教徒(當時的異教徒)，於是忿恨的後人在西元七世紀時，將皇帝的石棺及屍骨移走，把它改為天主教堂。
Of the entire cathedral in Europe, the one in Split is housed in the oldest structure – the mausoleum of the Roman emperor Diocletian. The exterior octagon of the mausoleum was surrounded by portico with 24 pillars. In the interior it is round in shape with four semi-circular and four rectangular niches. The center place was originally meant for Diocletian’s sarcophagus that was later ritually destroyed. About the niches rise eight Corinthian pillars made of red granite and above them another eight smaller ones. The stone crown circling the dome, between the first and the second row of pillars, features the carvings of Cupids hunting, masks, and human heads.
The Palace is built of white local limestone of high quality, most of which was from quarries on the island of Brac; tuff taken from the nearby river beds; and brick made in Salonitan and other workshops. Some material for decoration was imported: Egyptian granite columns and sphinxes, fine marble for revetments and some capitals produced in workshops in the Proconnesos.
The cathedral bell tower (57m) is the most original Dalmatian Medieval structure started in the 13th century. Over the powerful stone carved lions that guard the entrance to the cathedral, rise the two groups of notables that symbolically bear the weight of the pillars.
【Temple of Jupiter】
Scottish archeologist Robert Adam considered it one of the most beautiful monuments in Europe. Rectangular in shape, lies on the slightly elevated stand. Before the temple entrance there is a porch with six pillars and a headless Egyptian sphinx.
The southern side of the Peristil is enclosed by the Prothyron, an entrance into the imperial quarters: a triangular gable is supported by four columns with an arch between the two central ones. Under the arch there used to be the imperial loggia where Diocletian was viewed and worshiped as a cult deity. On each side of the Prothyron were chapels built between the columns.
【Vestibul】— the entrance to Diocletian’s living quarters
We can only imagine how fascinating it must have looked like in its original form: rounded niches with statues, large dome with glittering color mosaic white rotunda wall, as recorded by Marko Marulic in the manuscript dated from 16th century.
p.s. The term “klapa” is derived from the Dalmatian dialect, meaning “a group of people”. It is a kind of group vocal without instrumental sound. The medieval Gregorian chant is an early example of this musical form. The polyphony of a cappella church music began to develop in Europe between the 15th and 16th centuries. Dalmatia, under the Italian influence, gave birth to klapa in the 19th and 20th centuries.
【South wall】— Remains of the Emperor’s Suite
South east of Vestibul is the Medieval quarter, where the oldest building is the early Romanesque house from the 10th century. Today the courtyard around the Ethnographic Museum (in one of the imperial rooms) reflect this grand space (unfortunately wasn’t preserved except for the foundations in the subterranean area) with its views to the harbor along the southern façade with its massive arches.
Stairs on the left side lead down to the basement halls, which retain a strong sense of grandeur in spite of the many stalls selling local jewelry and crafts.
The cellars of the Diocletian’s Palace, with its perimeter walls and well preserved cult center present the best reserved antique complex of this type. Their architectural purpose was to raise the imperial residential area in the upper floor.
In the early Middle Ages a part of it was inhabited, and in one of the halls wine and oil were manufactured. Further construction of the upper area turned it into the refuse pit for the houses above.