When on a motorcycle tour, should you stop in the city of Split? Well, we think that this small Dalmatian metropolis of Split is definitely a destination worth marking in your itinerary. The largest city on the Croatian Adriatic coast, and the economic and cultural center of Dalmatia, Split is difficult to avoid since it is also the transport hub of the region and all the roads lead to Split. The city of Split has spread itself between the Dinaric mountains of Kozjak and Mosor, and the Adriatic sea, while the core of the city is located on a peninsula between the Gulf of Kaštela and the Brač Channel. The locals claim Split is “the most beautiful city in the world”. Better not contradict them during your stay, although, once you get there, you will probably see (some) truth in it. But don’t take our word on it – visit city of Split by motorcycle with MotoTrip!
City of Split- and history behind it
The Split region has a long history of human settlement. The Greeks were among the first to establish a permanent colony here. Later the Roman city of Salona near Split became the major city of the Roman province of Dalmatia. In this city, whose ruins can still be seen in the nearby town of Solin, a Roman emperor Diocletian (284-305) was born. Diocletian managed to reinvigorate the crumbling Roman empire and once again restore its power. He was also known for his brutal persecutions of Christians, which were the last major persecutions before Christianity became an official Roman religion a few decades after Diocletian.
Diocletian intended to spend his retirement in his homeland and so he built a palace for himself in the vicinity of Salona. This palace today is the core of the old Split. If you take a look at the original appearance of this palace, you will notice that it doesn’t look very palatial. It was designed as a fortress and resembled a Roman military camp. After the fall of the Roman Empire the Palace was deserted and only later inhabited by Roman refugees that settled here after Salona was sacked by the Avars and the Slavs in the 7th century. Slowly the palace was losing its strict military appearance, and started to resemble a typical Mediterranean town with narrow streets and many shops within the walls of the Palace.
The Diocletian’s Palace is so central to Split’s identity that for a long time it was believed that Split (Spalato) derived its name from the Latin word for palace (palatium). However, the name actually comes from aspálathos, a Greek name for spiny broom, a very spiny, densely branched shrub of the legume family that grew abundantly in this region.
Over time, the Palace was forgotten and rediscovered only in the mid-18th century. The Palace became one of the major sources of inspiration that ignited the neo-classical style in European architecture. Today it remains one of the most famous and complete architectural and cultural features on the Croatian Adriatic coast. As the world’s most complete remains of a Roman palace, it holds an outstanding place in the Mediterranean, European and world heritage.
Within the Palace, be sure to visit the Cathedral of St. Domnius. This cathedral is iconic to Split and almost every souvenir of Split includes the cathedral’s famous bell tower. The cathedral is dedicated to the patron saint of Split – St. Domnius – who was a bishop of Salona and died during the persecutions of the Christians. It is, therefore, a great irony that the Cathedral of Saint Domnius is actually a converted Mausoleum of Emperor Diocletian – the persecutor of Christians.
City of Split by motorcycle- anything else than Diocletian’s palace?
Aside from the Palace, which by itself is worth the journey, Split has many other beautiful and exciting venues. If you are interested in art, don’t forget to visit the Meštrović Museum. It is very close to the Palace and holds many pieces of art made by the world-famous sculptor Ivan Meštrović who started his career in Split.
If you are into football, you came to the best place. The local football club Hajduk was formed in 1911 and became a centerpiece of the local way of life. Its supporters’ group – the Torcida – established in 1950, claims to be the oldest of its kind in the world. Hajduk’s Poljud stadium is not far from the city center. This stadium is also one of Split’s many remarkable examples of modernist architecture of the post-WWII era by which former Yugoslavia was well-known worldwide.
If you are into hiking, head for the top of Marjan – a park-forest on a hill in the centre of Split that offers the most breathtaking vistas of Split and its surrounding region. Or you can just stay in front of the Palace and join the locals in slowly drinking coffee in one of the numerous open air cafes along the Riva – Split’s famous waterfront promenade.
Split and picigin
Tourists who come to the city of Split don’t do it for the beaches, which are not the most beautiful Croatia has to offer, but they are packed with life. The main beach is Bačvice, and you won’t be able to claim you’ve been to Split without a visit to Bačvice. Situated in a small bay, this shallow sandy beach is a home to a unique local sport – picigin. The players throw a small ball among each other while standing in the shallow waters of Bačvice. The object of the game is to keep the ball from falling into the water. There is also the World Championship in picigin. Needles to say, the championship takes place in Bačvice.
City of Split was not a tourist city until only recently. After WWII it was known for its shipyard, cement and chemical industry. After the collapse of these industries in 1990s, Split started to discover its huge tourist potential. So far this potential is rather underused although the entrepreneurial locals are quickly catching up. Better hurry while you still have time! And how else, then on BMW motorcycles with MotoTrip! Ride safe!