Around the Adriatic: Croatia - Split, Monday, 2019 April 8

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April 8th 2019
Published: May 3rd 2020
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Leaving Mostar was almost sad, because we had enjoyed the compact city as a group and on our own. We headed into the hills, where towns or villages lined the road for a considerable distance. Rain was falling for the whole drive. I noticed none of the un-recovered bombed houses we had seen on our way to Sarajevo from Mostar.

The border crossing into Croatia was old hat to us by now. Our driver, Paul today, gathered our passports (his on top) and presented them to an official inside, first the Bosnian booth and then the Croatian booth. We continued on through the mountains. The vegetation of low trees and tall bushes was later described to us as “Mediterranean bush”.

Our first stop was at the Blue Lake, where we looked far down into an ancient sinkhole filled with stunning dark turquoise water. Our second stop was at the Red Lake, also far down in an even larger sinkhole whose depth has not yet been discovered, because of its strange karst formation. Because the sky was grey cloud, the water did not reflect the reddish cliffs surrounding it and was as blue as the Blue Lake.

Retracing the road through
Peristyle central square Peristyle central square Peristyle central square

Diocletian's Palace
a large town, we were just in time to be stopped by a lot of school kids in small groups crossing the road to shop at the nearby bakery in their mid-morning break. Pedestrians have the right-of-way, so we waited perhaps five minutes, smiling at the friends chatting and scuffling.

About lunch-time we reached Split, a city complete with suburbs and traffic jams. Since rain was still falling, we joined a crowd inside Terminal F, a big port-side restaurant bar that usually accommodated its customers on a wide patio. We squeezed around one table and ordered pizza and burgers. My pulled-pork sandwich was delicious, not drowned in BBQ sauce, with coleslaw inside. The very salty, crispy fries were just right. Like Gary and Bill, I tried the local non-alcoholic beer and discovered that it is as good as the “real thing”.

We met our local guide outside, happy to continue our education, despite the now light rain. Directly in front of us was Diocletian’s gigantic retirement palace . Built early in the fourth century, it has survived because of being adapted by change. In the seventh century, people built a town inside the walls. The Venetians expanded by breaking
 Font, Cathedral of St Domnius 11 century Font, Cathedral of St Domnius 11 century Font, Cathedral of St Domnius 11 century

Built from Cathedral altar stones
through the west wall of the fort. A monumental church (Cathedral of St Domnius) was built over the mausoleum of Diocletian. Each of the three large altars was built in a different age. When I was waiting for the people to clear to let me take an unobstructed photo of the Baroque altar, I tried to ask a man just standing there to move to one side. Having no language in common, he thought I wanted a picture of him, and moved to the centre! After a few hopeless tries to motion him aside, I finally took his photo. When he wanted to see it, I had a moment of concern thinking he wanted payment, but all was well and he left, and I took the photo I wanted.

Across the way, was the baptistry for the church, which had been converted from Diocletian’s Temple of Jupiter. The full-immersion pool was in the shape of a cross, quite small. Oddly, people throw money into it, presumably for good luck. In the excellent acoustics of the Palace's vestibule, a group of traditional Dalmatian singers gave us shivers with their harmonic, sad, powerful songs. Watch my video.

The palace's best-preserved area was the basement. Originally it had
Historic Trogir Historic Trogir Historic Trogir

Foot bridge in the distance
a gate on the south wall to facilitate carrying materiel from the sea into the palace. The Venetians closed it off and closed off the whole basement under Diocletian’s home, thus preserving it almost intact until our times. Archaeologists have been able to understand how the palace was designed, because Romans built their basements in exact replica of the buildings above.

A short way from the Roman buildings in Split was the city of Trogir, where, on a small island, medieval and Venetian-era buildings have been preserved in almost a pristine state. On foot, we crossed from a busy road onto the island of old Trogir, still considered the city centre. Since it wasn’t raining, we turned our eyes away from the local market to visit on our own the large sand-coloured stone buildings that once were inhabited by rulers and leaders. A huge fortress dominated one end of the island town, a remnant of sea-faring power. A couple of ornate churches were the focal point on the other end of the island, a walk of less than ten minutes. Away from the strong winds of the sea, the medieval streets were uneven and polished bright by centuries of
Trogir market Trogir market Trogir market

Meat and cheese specialties
foot steps. Perhaps inevitably, all the streets seemed to lead us to the market, filled with things we wouldn’t buy since we were on a tour.

Back on the road, we drove through even more mountainous regions and eventually joined a toll road for a speedy journey to Skradin, a small town with a lovely modern hotel. Our room were in a new section right on the sea; we ate our meals in the main hotel, across the road and up a hill, with a magnificent view. Dinner: beef broth with little noodles, excellent beet and lettuce salad, grilled Brown Trout, and chocolate crepes.

View map of trip to date.

Additional photos below
Photos: 31, Displayed: 25


Blue Lake Blue Lake
Blue Lake

Red Lake Red Lake
Red Lake

Uncharted depths
View of family vineyards View of family vineyards
View of family vineyards

Produce enough for the table
Pulled pork lunch  Pulled pork lunch
Pulled pork lunch

Terminal F, Split
Diocletian's Palace West wall  Diocletian's Palace West wall
Diocletian's Palace West wall

Built in 305, still of use in the 21 century
Venetian tower 15 century Venetian tower 15 century
Venetian tower 15 century

Added to the ancient palace
Diocletian's Palace Diocletian's Palace
Diocletian's Palace

Multi-storey building
Restored wall Restored wall
Restored wall

Diocletian's Palace
Diocletian's Palace Diocletian's Palace
Diocletian's Palace

Retirement home for a Roman Emperor
Campanile of the Cathedral of St Domnius Campanile of the Cathedral of St Domnius
Campanile of the Cathedral of St Domnius

Free-standing bell tower built in the 12 century
Romanesque style carved doors 1214Romanesque style carved doors 1214
Romanesque style carved doors 1214

Andrija Buvina, Croatian sculptor
Cathedral of St Domnius Cathedral of St Domnius
Cathedral of St Domnius

Also the site of Diocletian's mausoleum
Cathedral St Domnius, 7 centuryCathedral St Domnius, 7 century
Cathedral St Domnius, 7 century

Venetian lions guard the entrance
Cathedral Altar 1770 Cathedral Altar 1770
Cathedral Altar 1770

Treasury 13 - 19 centuries
Side altar Side altar
Side altar

Without my "friend"

4th May 2020

What sinkholes! You couldn't loll around those lakes. The architecture is likewise amazingly beautiful - and, as you note, its survival to this day is a consequence of being able to stand being re-purposed. I loved the vestibule singers - great control. How people do that at all amazes me - without music to hold the note and the pace it's even more fantastic.
9th May 2020

Dalmatian singers
The complex sounds of the voices in song made me tremble. I bought their CD, an compromise but well worth it.

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