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SPLIT - World heritage sites in Croatia
Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian
Split is the largest Dalmatian city (population 221.456), located on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. While the beginnings of Split are often connected to the construction of Diocletian's Palace, the city was discovered much earlier as a Greek colony of Aspálathos. The Greek settlement lived off trade with the surrounding Illyrian tribes, mostly the Delmatae.  

In time, the Roman Republic became the dominant power in the region, and conquered the Illyrians in the Illyrian Wars of 229 and 219 BC. Upon establishing permanent control, the Romans founded the province of Dalmatia with Salona as the capital, and at that time the name of the nearby Greek colony Aspálathos was changed to "Spalatum".  

After he nearly died of an illness, the Roman Emperor Diocletian (ruled AD 284 to 305), great reformer of the late Roman Empire decided to retire from politics in AD 305. The Emperor ordered work to begin on a retirement palace near his hometown, and since he was born near Salona in Dalmatia (Solin in modern Croatia), some time around AD 244, he chose the harbor Spalatum near Salona for the location.   Work on the palace began in AD 293 in readiness for his retirement from politics. The palace was built much like a massive Roman military fortress, enclosing an area of 38 000 m². Water for the palace came from the Jadro River near Salona. Along the road from Split to Salona impressive remains of the original Roman aqueduct can still be seen. The palace was finished in AD 305, right on time to receive its owner, who retired exactly according to schedule, on May 1, AD 305, becoming the first Roman Emperor to voluntarily abdicate the position.

After a few years, a group of Roman Senators came to Diocletian's palace, asking the former emperor to return to Rome and help the Empire to overcome growing political problems. Diocletian refused, and while he was showing them his garden, he told them that he could not leave his beautiful garden which he had created by his own hands. He lived out his retirement in his palace on the Dalmatian coast, tending to his vegetable gardens. Diocletian died on December 3, 311. His palace went on to become the core of the modern day city of Split.  

In November 1979 UNESCO, in line with the international convention on cultural and natural heritage, adopted a proposal that the historic city of Split built around the Palace should be included in the register of World Cultural Heritage.

The ruins of Diocletian's Palace, built between the late 3rd and the early 4th centuries A.D., can be found throughout the city. The cathedral was built in the Middle Ages, reusing materials from the ancient mausoleum. Twelfth- and 13th-century Romanesque churches, medieval fortifications, 15th-century Gothic palaces and other palaces in Renaissance and Baroque style make up the rest of the protected area.
About Croatia > World Heritage Sites > Split
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