Cathedral of Saint Domnius
Among the European cathedrals the one in Split finds its seat in the oldest building – the Mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Inside the cathedral, at the end of the second millennium, the history reconciles ancient pagan, Christian Medieval and modern heritage. Mausoleum of the Emperor – persecutor of Christians becomes a cathedral in the 7th century where altars with relics of St Domnius and St Anastasius, martyrs executed in the nearby Solin, take an honorary place.
Outer octagon of the mausoleum is enclosed by an aisle (peripter) formed of 24 columns. In its interior it has a circular form with four semicircular and four rectangular niches. In the middle stood the Diocletian’s sarcophagus, later destroyed. Above the niches rise eight red granite Corinthian pillars, and above them another eight smaller ones.
The cornice circling above shows a relief of erots hunting, masks and human heads. Two medallions with bows are specially interesting as the archaeologists and Split’s tradition recognise in them the portraits of Emperor Diocletian and his wife Prisca.
Of particular interest is also the construction of the cupola with its fan-like arrangement of bricks in the lower part and a circular arrangement in its upper third. The cupola gleamed with glittering mosaics just like the one in the Vestibule.
Cathedral today is primarily a place of liturgy, with a millennium long continuity, best reflected in the Sunday mass and the renewed splendour of the procession on the St Domnius’s day – the day of Split’s patron saint. The renowned part of the Cathedral are its gates carved in walnut by Andrija Buvina from Split. The two door posts show fourteen tablets each with scenes from the Gospels, from the Gabriel’s Annunciation to the Resurrection of Christ.
Marjan, the hill that overlooks the city has always been the most impressive part of Split imagery. Such a harmony betwwen natural and urban is rarely found; on one side the densely populated city in all of its glory and on the other a peninsula of almost pristine nature.
Holy hill, as it is often called, harbors many monuments of sacred and secular architecture which are combined with this green oasis in such a way that they inspire a sense or awe an admiration even in a passer-by.
The very fact that we climb up to Marjan directly from beautiful and world renowned waterfront of Split („Riva“) gives the visitors from any part of the world a chance to experience the beauty of this park-forest, the freshness of air and stunning view of the city of Split and the nearby islands from several unique lookout points.
Marjan offers to its visitors peace and tranquility, recreation and entertainment with natural pathways and trim-trails.
Marjan is the place from which Split can be seen in all its glory, but you can also experience entirely different side of this densely populated and tourism oriented city.
The Silver Gate
Porta orientalis is their Roman name. These gates were used to enter the palace from the east towards the west, through the main street, decumanus, all the way to the Iron Gate and to Pjaca, the central city square.
The Silver Gate was more modest in its decorations than the Golden one, and it was closed from the Middle Ages till 1952, only to be thoroughly reconstructed during the destruction of the Baroque church Dušica. On each side of the gate the remains of the octagonal towers are visible, hence making it easy to imagine the beauty of the construction and the strength of the control over the entrances from the north, east and west. Entering through those gates the passersby, even today, have the opportunity to walk the original ancient pavement on decumanus, walked also, so many years ago, by the Diocletians subjects.
Silver Gate has recently enriched its history with the greatest event for all the Split Catholics, when in the year 2000 Pope John Paul II passed through them admiring the beauty of St Domniuses Cathedral where he later prayed.
From the outside rectangular, and from the inside circular ground plan of this old imperial court, Vestibule leaves a monumental impression even to this day. And how fascinating was it in its original entirety: semicircular niches with statues; a large cupola with colourful glittery mosaic, witnessed by Marko Marulić in his manuscript from the 16th century; the whiteness of the round wall. Vestibule was used to enter the residential part of the palace. But can you imagine that little over half a century ago it was used for living, and that the residents kept poultry there and cultivated gardens?
Southeast of the Vestibule is the mediaeval part of the city, with the oldest early Romanesque house from the tenth century. It leans on the very Vestibule, and in it today is one of the most beautiful and most awarded Split hotels, conveniently named Vestibule. On the other side of the square, in the former church of St. Andrew built in the seventh century, in the place where the imperial chambers once were, the Ethnographic museum finds its place. Unfortunately, the imperial chambers, have not been preserved, but its Substructures are therefore a faithful replica, making it easy to visualise where were the dining room, kitchen, women’s quarters, spa…
Walking along the remnants of the Cryptoporticus, the imperial walking path takes you to the western chambers dominated by a library, and next to the imperial chambers on the southwest part used to be the Diocletian’s spa, today the interior of the Hotel Slavija.