An ancient city on the Adriatic coast, Split achieved fame when the Roman emperor Diocletian had his retirement palace built here from 295 to 305 AD. After his death the great stone palace continued to be used as a retreat by Roman rulers. The Old Town is built around the harbor on the south side of a high peninsula sheltered from the open sea by many islands.The high coastal mountains set against the blue Adriatic provide a striking backdrop.
Split is a busy port with numerous ferries operating to and from nearby islands. It is also a popular resort with beaches, pleasant promenades and good hotels. Venetian, Gothic and Renaissance houses and several medieval churches add architectural interest.
As a major cultural center, Split does not lack in museums and art galleries; one gallery honors Jan Mestrovic, one of Croatia's greatest sculptors. However, the city's principal attraction is Diocletian's Palace. It occupies an area of 34,680 square yards and was constructed to serve as a residence and a fortified military camp. By the Middle Ages, the palace had been enclosed within a strong wall with square corner towers, and had become a town with narrow house-lined alleys. As the city grew, people gradually moved outside the walls and the city center shifted westward. Thanks to the fact that Split was fortunate enough to escape destruction by wars or natural disasters in 1,700 years of its existence, the buildings of various historical periods as well as the Palace of Diocletian are well preserved, making Old Split without a doubt one of the most fascinating cities in Europe.