Diocletian Palace is one of the best preserved monuments of the Roman architecture in the world. The Emperor’s Palace was built as a combination of a luxury villa – summer house and a Roman military camp (castrum), divided into four parts with two main streets. Southern part of the Palace was, in this scheme, intended for the Emperor’s apartment and appropriate governmental and religious ceremonies, while the north part was for the Imperial guard – the military, servants, storage etc. The Palace is a rectangular building (approximately 215 x 180 meters) with four large towers at the corners, doors on each of the four sides and four small towers on the walls. The lower part of the walls has no openings, while the upper floor is open with a monumental porch on the south and halls with grand arch windows on the other three sides. Over the centuries the Palace inhabitants, and later also the citizens of Split adapted parts of the palace for their own requirements, thus the inside buildings as well as the exterior walls with the towers significantly changed the original appearance, but the outlines of the Imperial Palace are still very visible.
Peristyle, as the central square of the Palace, intended for the Emperor Diocletian celebrated as the living son of Jupiter, finds its place among many temples. The Emperor would appear under the architrave of the central part of Protyron, and his subjects would approach him, kneeling down, kissing the hem of his scarlet cloak, or they would fall in front of him, their entire body to the ground.
The red colour of the granite columns emphasises the ceremonial function. Namely, ever since the Emperor Diocletian the colour purple became the imperial colour. With the construction of a new city square with the town hall (Pjaca) in the 13th/14th century, Peristyle became a religious centre. Today it boarders from the West with Palaces of Split noble families Grisogono, Cipci and Skočibušić, as they lean on its authentic columns and arches. With their Renaissance and Gothic architecture they themselves became monuments.
Owing to its unique beauty and unusual acoustics, Peistyle became the ideal theatre scenery, perfect for opera classics and works of ancient literature, but also the stage where abundant urban life continues. Having your coffee on the steps circling Peristyle is a unique experience, one of the closest touches of a modern man with the ancient heritage, not only Roman, but also Egyptian, as the Peristyle is closely watched over by a 3500 old and perfectly preserved sphinx, the witness of Split’s history in making. This is why John Paul the II in amazement said ” Dear God, how many feet have stepped through here”, and this is why citizens of Split think of Peristyle as the centre of Split and the entire world.
County Chamber of Split
Trumbićeva obala 4, 21000 Split