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Diocletian’s Palace

Diocletian’s Palace

Diocletian’s Palace is one of the most imposing ancient palaces, situated in Split. Emperor Diocletian raised palace between AD 295 and 305, stayed in it after the withdrawal from the throne in 305, until his death in 306. Diocletian has also been known as the only emperor who, without being forced, stepped down from the throne.Palace was built in the bay of the peninsula, 5 km southwest of Salona, the capital of the province of Dalmatia. The remains of the palace today are part of the historic centre of Split, which is listed in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979.

Diocletian’s Palace is one of the oldest ancient buildings and best preserved late antique palace in the world. The palace is huge and luxurious imperial villa that was intended for Emperor’s life and holidays. It was well fortified camp because of the danger of possible outbursts of barbarians. The enormous proportion of palace occupies area of 30000km2. From outside, palace leaves the impression of strong fortifications, while the inside was luxurious and comfortable.

The whole area of the palace was divided into two parts. In the northern part, buildings were intended for servants, army and warehouse. The most representative and luxurious was the south side, which was facing the sea, intended for imperial family. In the lower part there were a smaller door openings, on south side – brass gate (Porta Aenea), on the north side – golden gate (Porta Aurea) , on east side – silver gate (Porta Argenta) and on the west side – iron gate (Porta Ferrea).

The palace was intersected with two main streets – Cardo and Decamanus. Cardo Street led to the peristyle, the open space in front of the Emperor’s residence. Emperor’s mausoleum was located on the left side of residence, today is the cathedral of St. Dujam. On the right side of the peristyle, there are three temples: Jupiter, Venus and Cybele. Facade walls of the palace, in their lower parts are the massive and simple with no openings and upper parts are dissolved with big noisy windows.

The outer walls of the palace except the west wall are still very well preserved. Of the total number of sixteen towers, three corner towers have been partly preserved together with remains of the octagonal and rectangular towers. The remains of the palace today are part of the historic centre of Split, largest city in Dalmatia.

In the medieval period, between XII. and XIV. century, started a new architectural development, when the remains of Roman buildings and larger part of the streets and porches were replaced by medieval stone houses.