Monday, July 30, 2018

Must See In Split, Croatia - Preparing For Our Mediterranean Cruise


Bad news!  We were just informed by our cruise line that we will not be going to Ravenna, Italy.  No mosaics, no Basilica of San Vitale, no Mausoleum of Galla Placida and no chance of possibly seeing Bologna.  The regulations have changed and now our ship is over the size limit of what is allowed to come into this port.  But the good news is that we get to visit another country we have never been to before, Croatia.  We have heard that this is a beautiful country and we are very excited to explore the city of Split after researching the area.

There's no need for us to book an excursion here.  It is only a short but uphill walk to the Old Town and the other sites on our list.  

Diocletian's Palace is more a citadel than a palace.  It was Roman Emperor Diocletian's retirement home.  Today it is the central hub of Split where 2,000 people live or work.  We will be walking on original Roman streets that cut through the palace as we follow Rick Steve's walking tour through this massive place.  
1.  Palace Facade View - We can stand in front of the palace and face the water to enjoy the view Diocletian had when he walked past the row of 42 arched windows we will notice on this side of the palace.
2. Cellar Entrance -  Long ago this cellar was filled with water then later used as a dump.  Now it houses art exhibits and souvenir stands.  In a well-preserved area down here we can see ancient Roman engineering.  There is a charge to enter the cellar but if we decide to pay to have a look around, we will be able to see where scenes from The Game of Thrones have been filmed.  We have never seen this show but we will probably be wanting to after our visit here.  We can also see a headless and pawless sphinx and the bust of Diocletian.  I would love to get a glimpse of what this extravagant  Emperor looked like.
3.  Peristyle Square - We are excited that we will get to see two 3,500 year old, mostly intact, Egyptian sphinxes here that were brought to the city by Diocletian.  
4.  Entry Vestibule - This grand entrance into Diocletian's living quarters was meant to impress visitors.  It's here that we will hear an all-male a cappella group singing traditional songs.
5.  Cathedral of St. Domnius is the oldest cathedral in the world.  It was Diocletian's mausoleum but then converted into the town's cathedral. We will see the original ring of 24 supporting columns and the cathedral's wooden doors which have survived since the year 1200.
6.  Jupiter's Temple/St. John's Baptistery - We will look for a statue of St. John the Baptist, done by the great Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, and for a vaulted ceiling that is considered to be the best preserved of it's kind anywhere.  Every face and each patterned box is different,
7.  Cardo is the most important street in the palace.  It connects the main entry with the heart of the complex.  We will see many impressive buildings and we will pass the City Museum but I will be focused on finding Nadalina selling dark chocolate using Dalamatian flavors like dried fig and prosecco, an Italian white wine.
8.  Golden Gate was once the main entrance to the palaceIf we go outside this gate and turn to look at the palace, we can imagine what it looked like before the many other buildings were added on.
Just outside the Golden Gates on the northern wall of the palace we can see another Ivan Mestrovic statue, Bishop Gregory of Nin.   This Croatian icon helped spread Christianity into the region.  People rub the big toe of this statue for good luck.  

Historic Split is where we can find Pjaca Square.  This is where Split's old town hall is.  I can't wait to see the marble floors of this plaza and eat at one of the cafes with outdoor seating.   I will be looking for St. Anthony's statue.  The donor of this statue is seen clinging to the leg of St. Anthony as a reminder that he was the one who made this donation.  Above this statue, we can't wait to see the one of a man and a woman arguing!  These sound like two very unique statues for sure.  Radic Brothers Square or Fruit Square is a must see to enjoy beautiful renaissance architecture.  We will also find yet another Mestrovic statue.  This one is of a 16th century poet named Marko Marulic.  Will this and the other statues all have the usual Mestrovic characteristics typical of his statues?  Long, angular fingers, arms and legs and expressive, elongated faces with prominent noses.  It will be fun to be on the lookout for Ivan Mestrovic statues while we are here in Split.  And for people watching, we will visit Marmont Street where we will find Split's residents in the shops, cafes and restaurants.  We would love to take a break here and sit among the people of Croatia and eat some of their traditional foods.  We are hoping to find and try Fuzi which is a homemade pasta that is rolled around a pencil.  This pasta is usually served in different types of stews.  We also must have, because it really looks and sounds delicious, Soparnik, which is a savory pie filled with Swiss chard.  And for desert, Krostule, which is a pastry made from thin strips of dough that is tied in knots and deep fried.  After it is dusted with powdered sugar, it is ready to eat.  I really can't wait to try it.

Marjan Hill is a steep hill where we can enjoy views of the city below.  On our way up the short hill, we will see a Jewish cemetary.  Some of the tombstones here date back to the year 1700.  On top of the hill we will check out the two churches, St. Nicholas and St. Jerome.  There is an altarpiece not to be missed at St. Jerome.  We will stop at the only cafe bar on the hilltop, Vidilica, for a snack before we make our way down the hill.

We won't want to miss Split's pride and joy, their waterfront, the Riva.  This seafront promenade is lined with cafes, bars, eateries and souvenir shops.   On the west side we can find Republic square, church of St. Francis and a fountain.  And on the east side, we will see a green market. called Pazar.  We would love to try the local produce here.

Split is located by the sea so we will definitely want to relax on one of their beaches.  (I will make sure to bring an empty water bottle to collect sand here for the keepsake I will make as a reminder of our 40th anniversary dream vacation.)  There are many to choose from so we may check out a few if we have time.  Bacvice beach is a lively, crowded beach with people enjoying water sports and stylish cafes and is the only sandy beach in town.  At the foot of Marjan Hill we can find less crowded beaches.  The most popular beaches are Jezinac, Bene and Kasjuni.  

Although we are a little disappointed that we are not going to Ravenna to see the beautiful mosaics we heard so much about, we are sure that Croatia is going to be a country we will hope to get back to one day!


8 comments:

  1. Aw, I bet you were disappointed at first but it sure sound like you are heading out with the right attitude. Sounds like a fun new area to explore.

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    1. Yeah it took us by surprise at first but the more we looked into Split the more we really wanted see it!

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  2. What a great list you have made and love the descriptions. Thanks for sharing on To Grandma's House We Go!

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  3. I hope you have a wonderful time! Thanks so much for sharing with us at the Whimsical Wednesdays Link Party!

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    1. Thank you and thank you for having me at your party!

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  4. This vacation sounds like it was an awesome time! Thanks for sharing at the Make Life Pretty Monday link party! I hope to see you again this Sunday!

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    1. We can't wait. It's getting very close now! Thank you for hosting your party and letting me share there!

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