Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Split, Croatia


Map picture

Today we enjoyed a brief 4 hour visit to the city of Split, in the country of Croatia. As I mentioned yesterday, Croatia is one of four countries that line the shores of the Adriatic Sea on its Western side, while just across the Sea on the East is Italy.

Croatia is today an independent country with a Presidential/Parliamentary Democracy. It achieved its independence in 1991 with the collapse of the old Yugoslavian Empire. It neighbor, Slovenia was the first of the former Yugoslav republics to achieve membership in the EU, and Croatia hopes to follow. The population of the country is only 4 million with three main cities. The capital is Zagrab. Split is the second largest city and Dubrovnik the third. Both Zabrab and Split are active functional cities, even though they have their old sections. We went to Dubrovnik about a year ago, and there the old city has become only a tourist attraction, with the people living in the outskirts of town.

Croatia is beautiful, and clean. The streets were in good condition and people were friendly. Except for a problem with graffiti in the town of Split I found Croatia to be a good place to visit.

Our visit today consisted of two stops. The first involved a 30 minute drive to the Medieval Town of Trogir. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located on a very small island that IMG_2644 connects with the mainland by a bridge.

We walked around the town admiring the buildings and churches for about 90 minutes and then took a break for coffee in the square where we enjoyed a good session of “people watching.”

Returning to the Old City of Split, our group went on another walking tour, this time of a most unusual place, a Roman basement! Since it too is on the UNESCO list, it was obviously not your ordinary basement. Allow me to explain. In the late Roman period, which dates from around 300 A.D., the Great Roman Emperor Diocletian decided to abdicate – or in other words to retire. In preparation for his retirement he had a massive Palace constructed in Split. It was designed as a rectangular Roman Fort which covered 8.4 acres and had four massive gates and 16 towers surrounding its walls.


Over the centuries the palace fell into disrepair was buried under the surface. The new city of Split was built on top of the subterranean halls of the former palace. In fact as structures were built on top of the ruins, people would dig holes into the floor, which opened into the subterranean ruins, and dumped their construction trash down the holes, and then sealed the holes back up.


Today the substructure of the Diocletian Palace is a World Heritage Site and is slowly and carefully being excavated revealing structures that are in remarkably good condition for their age.

In addition to the “basement,” we visited the Cathedral of St. Dominius. Originally it was built to serve as the mausoleum for the Emperor, but today it stands as the only Roman Catholic Cathedral in the world built in the shape of a hexagon.

All too quickly our day came to and end, and we are now on our way to the city of Venice, Italy where our ship is due to dock at 6am. Fortunately we left town just in time because right now it is pouring down rain outside. Let’s hope tomorrow is better.

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