Historical development of town
Within area of Split and Solin the oldest findings are from the time of Neolithic and Eneolithic. In that period first settlements arisen there. The Illyrian tribes of Indo-European origin colonized middle Dalmatia during the Iron era along entire eastern Adriatic shore. Delmati (the name of a particular Illyrian tribe) at the same time give name to the whole province that they came in.
At the beginning of the 4th century before Christ the Greek colonists founded first important city cores on this Illyrian mainland or near by it. That is when islands Issa - Vis and Faros - Hvar were established.
In late ancient period during the Roman administration Diocletian’s Palace was built. It was around 298. year after Christ when the Roman imperator Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus decided to start the construction of the grand villa in the bay of Split on the Dalmatian coast nearby (5 kilometres) his birth place – Salona. Greek soldier born in 243 whose ‘’common’’ name was Diokles became an emperor in November of 284. His reign was remembered by great reforms. The most important one was the system of the rule of four (two Caesars and two Augusts). Diocletian was the first emperor in history to abdicate willingly, but also he was a big Christian persecutor. Some guess that he is responsible even for the death of his wife Prisca and his daughter Valeria. Namely, they both became Christians. Some twist of faith would you say?
Diocletian was declared to be divinity by the Roman senate while he was still very much alive (to that point only dead people could become deities). As a Jupiter’s son he retreated himself to his fortified residence in Split where he treats his rheumatics at sulphurs and thermal springs.
Emperor’s palace occupies an area of about 30 000 square meters. It is rectangular and was originally fortified by 16 towers. At the same time it was residence of an emperor (villa rustica) and Roman fortification (castrum) with army troops.
Palace contributed to the broadening of town because the city evolved on its walls. It is one of the most significant structures of the late ancient architecture not only by its preservation but also after series original architectural forms since it is strengthened citadel and simultaneously also reposing complex.
After Diocletian’s death the palace remained under the Roman imperial jurisdiction until 480. when the last western European emperor Julius Nepot is executed in it.
In the seventh century the inhabitants of nearby Salona took refuge in the palace during the invasion of Avars and Slavs. In 10th and 11th century Split was under authority of Croatian kings. At the beginning of the 12th century Split, just as the other Dalmatian towns, was governed by Hungarian-Croatian king. In joined Kingdom of Croatia and Hungary Split entered with the status of autonomy subjected only to a highest and supreme authority of king. From this time period originates the oldest famous city hall with its ground-floor lodge constructed at the site of Venus temple. Later it passes over into property of one of the oldest noble families in those days- families Grisigono. In the middle of the 15th century part of this building became a share of a large fortune of the family Cipci. City hall was therefore converted in the 15th century into Renaissance palace whose construction is made by Nicolas Florentine (architect and a sculptor that, among other great deeds, ends a magnificent project of cathedral complex in Šibenik).
Late middle age in Split goes by under military and political administration of Venice. Customary there’s mentioning of Dalmatian sale in 1409. when Hungarian king Ladislav Napoli in exchange for 100 000 golden ducats renounced his claim to that territory for the benefit of Venice, but Split officially capitulated self-willingly in order to find protection against princes from the inland that were trying to enlarge their feudal estates. Venice descent in 1797 and after 377 years of its government in Split came an era of French middle class. Napoleon’s France came into possession of Dalmatia after short Austrian administration by their peace-treaty in 1805. At that time Auguste Fréderic Louis de Marmont was appointed for the military commander in Split. This general governor of all Illyrian provinces indebted the city by constructing a public park in 1844 on whose grounds erected a complex of Prokurative. Initiator of this project was Marmont’s years lasting chief Antun Bajamonti. He also renewed Diocletian’s aqueduct that still until this present day provides the city with drinkable water.
After brief French rule Split became a part of the Austrian – Hungarian monarchy. With its defeat In the World War I. Dalmatia along with the rest of the Croatian territory entered into joined kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians. But, at the end of the Second World War the same area and same three nations became state of Yugoslavia. In last century, during 90ies, country war brought Croatia independence. Split did not suffer directly great damage except for stagnation in economy long after the war.
1700 years old town with its rich history and cultural heritage is one of the most important ‘’old-timers’’. Split is unique city that has exceptional southern Mediterranean spirit.
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