Some 1,700 years on, the Emperor Diocletian would still recognise his palace – or the shell of it, at least. This vast, rectangular complex fell into disuse in the sixth century, 300 years after its construction as a grand retirement home by the locally born leader of the Imperial Guard. In AD 614 refugees flooded in from nearby Salona (Solin) and locals have been eking out a living in its alcoves and alleyways ever since. Today its two-metre-thick (seven-foot) walls hide any number of shops, bars and businesses. Wandering aimlessly around the palace is one of Split‘s essential experiences. There is no ticket office or protocol – you just stroll in. Four gates guard its main entrances: Golden, Silver, Iron and Bronze. The latter gives access, through the basement of Diocletian’s old Central Hall, now filled with souvenir and craft stalls, to the Riva embankment. Amid the chaos, added to over the centuries, two landmarks stand out: the courtyard of Peristil, a major crossing point, and, beside it, the Katedral Sveti Duje. In the north-east corner of the palace, the Split City Museum is worth visiting for the 15th-century Gothic building itself rather than sundry paintings and weaponry within.
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