“Once this area, roughly a quarter of a mile square, was the Palace of Diocletian…. It is entrancing and there is no other place in Europe like it.” Bill Bryson – ‘Neither here Nor there’
After we arrived we walked along the recently improved pedestrian area next to the harbour with its rows of bars and cafés and immaculate gardens and lawns and then we retraced our steps from the previous visit and went back into Diocletian’s Palace.
Diocletian became Emperor or Rome in 284AD and set out to reorganise the huge Empire that had become unwieldy difficult to control. His solution was to split the Empire in two between east and west to make it more manageable and after governing for twenty years he became the first Emperor to resign the position and he built the massive palace for his retirement after abdicating in 305 AD. When it was built one of its four gates led directly to a quay side but the new promenade has separated the Palace from the sea and the entrance is now through the Palace basement and past a row of market stall vendors.
The palace was built as a massive structure, much like a Roman military fortress with walls two hundred metres long and twenty metres high, enclosing an area of thirty-eight thousand Square metres and it is one of the best preserved Roman palaces in existence because after the fall of the Romans it effectively became the city of Spalatum and some alterations were carried out, corridors became streets, courtyards and atriums became public squares and narrow lanes linked houses and shops into a city within a palace. Eventually Spalatum became Split and today it continues to host the old town even though there is some very recent unfortunate and rather inappropriate construction inside.
We sat for a while in the sunshine in the People’s Square just outside the Palace gates and planned the remainder of the day. After a final visit to the Palace for blue sky photographs we left the city and returned to the car stopping at a Konzum supermartket on the way for alcohol supplies. Konzum is the largest supermarket chain in Croatia and Bosnia and by now we had become familiar with their design and products.
We were staying at the Pink Inn again tonight and Iveska seemed pleased to see us. Her rooms were immaculately clean and prepared with an obsessive fussiness but this was a charming place and one that I would be most happy to return to again. All around there were big clouds but fortunately the Pink Inn was under a puddle of blue sky just perfect for sitting on the balcony and enjoying the views of the sea and the endless procession of boats and ships coming and going from the busy port of Split just a few kilometres away.
As the sun started to slide away the temperature began to drop so this was an opportunity for a final walk along the beach and the rocks and a more thorough inspection of the Hotel Meridian. This was a seriously posh hotel and we drew a few looks of disapproval as we wandered around the lobbies and bars in our best island hopping grunge clothing. I knew that we had gone too far when we arrived at the Casino with an entrance guarded by a doorman in an expensive suit and a glamorous hostess in a cocktail dress. I casually enquired about opening hours and when I had got the answer we moved off quickly and returned to the beach. I’m afraid that I’m not really all that impressed by five star hotels, they always seem so impersonal and pretentious and I was glad to get back to the charming little room at the Pink Inn.
Later we returned to the fish restaurant across the road that was busier tonight but there wasn’t a wedding in the function room to entertain us. After another fine and inexpensive fish meal, the sixth in six nights, we returned to the balcony at the room and watched an impressive light show over the island of Brač courtesy of a massive electrical storm and we were pleased that we weren’t on the islands tonight.