I have to be honest…I never expected to get here. Not because Croatia or Split were some far off dream, or because it was a location I had never considered. No, the reason I was surprised to find myself in front the silver gate of the old city is that the previous day we were racing through the Italian highways frantically trying to reach the ferry to get there. Keep in mind that morning we were in Florence, about 350Km away from the port of Ancona. So after a frantic drive, we arrived at the airport where we dropped off the car and took a taxi to the ferry. We practically had to jump onto the ferry. I admit the Mission Impossible theme song was playing in my head the whole time. Thankfully we made it in one piece and arrived at 7am the next day. So now after some breakfast, rubbing some statues foot (don’t ask), we enter the old city itself.
We only had around half a day to explore Split. So we spent most of our time in the old town of Split. The ancient palace built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century AD, forms about half the old town. It’s a maze of narrow streets carved in limestone and Marble. The basement has a large market now, but most importantly it served as a filming location for Game of Thrones. It is actually the dungeon where Daenerys’ dragons were kept in Meereen. Ok, that’s enough geek talk for now. We goofed around with the statues in the courtyard of the City Museum and then finally made it to the main court of the city, the Peristyle. The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and with good reason. You feel you have stepped back in time while walking through its streets. Right next to the Peristyle:
Cathedral of St Domnius
Let’s get the history of this place out of the way first. The cathedral is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure, without near-complete renovation at a later date (though the bell tower dates from the 12th century). The structure itself, built in AD 305 as the Mausoleum of Diocletian, is the second oldest structure used by any Christian Cathedral. This being said there were renovations going on inside when we were there. Funny how a tour guide can tell you one thing, while the exact opposite is happening just a few meters from you. In any case, we decided to walk up the tower to take in the view and it did not disappoint. We got a great view of the Port of Split. After this, we were famished and headed to a great family restaurant. Probably one of the best meal I had in the entire trip. All in all, we made great use of our limited time there. A good start to the Croatian leg of our journey. After lunch, we got on the boat taking us to our next stop, the island of Hvar.1
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