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Split is a seaside town on the Adriatic Sea in the region of Dalmatia in the southeast of Croatia. There are beautiful beaches nearby, but the city is also famous for its historic buildings, with the greatest attraction being the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian that has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the old city (Grad) you cannot ignore the gigantic Diocletian's Palace. This Roman emperor had the palace built at the end of the third century to spend his last years here. The complex has no less than sixteen defense towers and various gates. One of those gates is located on the seafront; in Roman times, ships could enter the palace complex this way. When the Avars destroyed the capital of Dalmatia, Salona, in 615, the town's inhabitants took refuge in the palace. They made it the heart of the city, which it remained until today. Within the palace walls you can find houses, modern shops, trendy cafés, markets and also the Cathedral of St Domnius. Originally it was a mausoleum for Diocletian, but the refugees from Salona turned it into a church devoted to their first bishop. Ironically, that bishop was the victim of the anti-Christian campaigns of the Roman emperor.
The Split City Museum is located within the walls of the palace in the northeastern part of the complex. The courtyard garden is worth a visit, but definitely also the exhibition inside about Split's history.
In front of the Zeljezna Vrata (Iron Gate) lies the Narodni trg (People's Square) that forms Split's center. The local population simply calls this square Pjaca (after the Italian Piazza). In summer months, dozens of outdoor cafés are set up on the white marble pavement. The City Hall from the fifteenth century where the Ethnographical Museum is housed with for example a collection of Croatian folk art, is the eye-catcher of the square.
Ivan Meštrović is undoubtedly the most important Croatian sculptor of the twentieth century. The building where he lived and worked and that he designed himself is now a museum, Galerija Meštrović. In the building itself you can see paintings and drawings and in the garden are bronze, wooden, marble and stone sculptures, all with a religious character.
In the seventeenth century Grip Fortress you'll find the Maritime Museum (Pomorski Muzej). Split has always had a strong link with the sea, both for trade and naval battles. Here you can see scale models of historic ships, nautical charts, logbooks and the world's first torpedoes that were designed by the Croat Ivan Blaz Lupis.
West of the old city lies an elongated peninsula, Marjan, which is covered in pine trees. It is a protected area with the 178-meter-high Marjan Hill in the center. From the hill you have a nice view of the city and the sea. There are also beaches.
Between Split and Makaska lies the city of Brela. It has one of Europe's most beautiful beaches. Although the beach consists of gravel, the water is crystal clear and there are many small coves where you practically have the beach to yourself.
When driving about 25 kilometers west of Split, along the coastal road (past the airport), you'll reach Trogir, a medieval town, that is also listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. It is located on an island that is connected with the mainland via a bridge. The city is completely pedestrianized and is full of churches and palaces.
The islands off the coast are exceptional tourist attractions. One of the most visited islands is Hvar, where you can still find many remains from the time the Venetians ruled here. The largest island near Split is the wooded Brac. Near the seaside town of Bol lies the busy beach of Zlatni Rat. Another island? All right then, one more of the dozens of islands off the Croatian coast: Solta. This is an elongated island with vineyards, olive trees and ancient villages where you imagine yourself centuries back in time. No, not in the tourist center of Stomorska, but for example in Gornje or Srednje.
In summer months, Split's city center can be extremely busy and then it'll be difficult to find a free parking space. In the center you have to pay everywhere for parking out on the street. Traffic police are strict: When you exceed the authorized parking time, chances are your car will be towed. There are various parking lots, for example near the ferry terminal.
The airport's full name is Split Kaštela/Resnik Airport and it is located west of the city. By road, the airport lies about 20 kilometers from Split. You can reach the airport by rental car via the narrow, busy coastal road Ivana Pavla II.