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Published: July 10th 2010
One of the things like best about Google is that you can start looking for something and accidentally find 15 more things that are interesting on the way to your destination. Today, we discovered that GPS systems can be like that. While driving across the Neretva valley to get to the motorway, we found ourselves on an unpaved road then a road under construction, twisting and turning up the mountainside with sheer drop-offs (giving Jan severe phobia attacks - but not as bad as the Leaning Tower of Pisa), but also giving unparalleled views of the beautiful valley.
Leaving Dubrovnik, we headed north to Split. We had originally planned to drive to Mostar and Sarajevo. However, given the status of the roads in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the distances involved, we decide to skip those destinations and head directly to Split.
Split is the largest city in Dalmatia and the second largest in Croatia. It is at least 1700 years old, but probably was built on a much older Greek City. The name comes from the spiny broom plant that we saw in bloom everywhere throughout Dalmatia during our visit. It looks very much like Scotch broom found in the American
The historically documented city really began with the construction of Diocletian’s palace, built for his retirement in 305 CE. Diocletian was noted as an administrator, and split the duties of operating the empire among four co-emperors. While this contributed to more efficient running of the empire, some scholars think it later led to the dissolution of the empire. After a reign of 21 years, Diocletian became the first Roman emperor to voluntarily retire. At what is now Split, a convenient port area near his birthplace in Salon, he built a large palace, which was finished in a short period of time but cost about two thousand slave lives in the construction. His retirement took place in 305 CE.
In the 8th century, after a time of abandonment, the palace was again occupied by the local populace trying to escape attacking Huns. The higher class citizens lived on the main floors, and cut rough tunnels through the floor through which they threw their waste and sewage, probably to the consternation of the lower class people living in the basement where the waste ended up. These massive heaps of garbage are now a treasure trove for archaeologists.
hotel was the Hotel Peristil which is right in the palace itself. We reached it by lugging heavy suitcases in stifling down a short flight of steps then back up a very long staircase. I was praying for a heart attack. When we departed, we had found that we could have gotten there by walking a few more steps on gradually rising ground without any steps. The hotel had not lift, so there were two more flights of steps to negotiate. Several gallons of sweat later, we got situated in the hotel and went exploring.
Although there are extensive ruins above ground, the most impressive sight was the large chambers under the palace. These held large stores of fresh water, salt water, and sulphurous mineral water when the palace was occupied by Diocletian. Now they are largely empty, although there are displays lf an olive press and a few other implements.
Fronting the sea, but no longer lapped by the Adriatic waters, the castle and downtown Split make a convenient stopping place, and this was a necessary stop in order to catch a flight to Berlin.
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