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Zagreb Bus StationBus View
            LowlandsSplit, on Croatia's Dalmatian coast, is another sought-after tourist destination, replete with a beautiful promenade, beaches, and points of historical interest. Curious to explore the Croatian coastline and eager to avoid the summer crowds, we headed to Split on a cold but clear day in January.  Leaving from the Zagreb bus station, we embarked on what was purported to be a 4 1/2 hour trip, arriving in Split about seven hours later. The trip took us through the countryside, where there seemed to be a church steeple and a small village every couple of minutes. To enter Split, the bus had a steep climb up and over a mountain pass before descending to the coast. When passing through the mountains we got our first taste of real snow in about 25 years. Tired but Mountain Passeager to see the city, we Church Steeples
            Everywhere!arrived at the bus station late in the afternoon and hauled our bags the roughly 800 meters to the Judita Palace Heritage Hotel, our base of operation for the next several days.

Narodni Trg: The People's Square
Narodni TrgMap of Narodni TrgOur introduction to Split began at Narodni Trg, or the "People's Square," in the heart of Split's "Old Town. It was originally named St. Lawrence Square, after a church that occupied the site. The square dates back to the 13th century, when the city expanded beyond the walls of the Diocletian Palace. It is a wonderful place from which to begin to explore the city, and home to a number of palaces. Clearly this is where the "movers and shakers" of Medieval and Renaissance Split chose to live. The houses of the rich and famous display a dizzying array of architectural styles.  Our tour of the square begins at the west end and traces a clockwise direction (see the map, upper left). First is the art nouveau style Nakic House on the west end of the square,followed by the Romanesque Ciprianis Palace on the square's southeast corner, the Renaissance-style Palovic palace midway down the southern side of the square, and the Romanesque/Gothic Karepic Palace at the southwest corner of the square. Tucked around the corner from the Karepic Palace is the Cambi Palace. Also of note in the square is the 15th century Gothic Old Town Hall, now a museum. Next to the Old Town Hall is the Standarac, a monument and flagpole dedicated to the defeat of the Nazis and Fascists in World War II. The Chapel of St. Lawrence, a small affair, abuts the Old Town Hall. Photos of each building are shown in the same clockwise sequence below.
                House Standarac Old Town
                Hall Chapel of St. Lawrence Karepic
Nakic House
Art Noveau Design
Anti-Fascist Memorial
Old Town Hall
15th Century Gothic Design
Chapel of St. Lawrence
(Upper Level)

Karepic Palace
Cambi Palace
Church of Our Lady of the Bell Tower
Pavolvic Palace Judita
Cambi Palace
Church of Our Lady of the Bell Tower
Ciprianis Palace
Romanesque Design
Pavlovic Palace
Renaissance Style
Judita Palace
16th Century Palace
Judita Palace Heritage Hotel

Judita Palace Heritage Hotel
The Judita Palace Heritage is located on the People's Square in a 16th century palace. It is an ideal location, adjacent to both the riva or seaside promenade, as well as the western entrance (the Iron Gate) to Diocletian's Palace. Fortunately for us, it was also very near the restaurants that we visited. The hotel is beautifully finished and incorporates much of the palace's original charm. A virtual tour of the Judita Palace Heritage hotel is shown below.

Virtual Tour of Judita Palace Heritage Hotel
Entrance to Judita PalaceSnap Content

Dining in Split
Of course, sightseeing is known to work up an appetite. Here are some of the restaurants that we enjoyed during our holiday in Split.  Since we can't really remember the sequence, they are presented in alphabetical order. If you are interested in visiting any of these, we have included some sort of contact information for each.

Chops and Grill:
Chops and Grill ExteriorChops and Grill InteriorJust off Marmantova, which is the main walking street in Split, is Chops and Grill. On our last full day in Split we walked from the riva or promenade up this long street and found the restaurant just off a side street. The restaurant is light and airy, and has a bistro feel to it. It also offers a large outdoor terrace when the weather is fair. When we visited,the weather was inclement, and we ducked inside to have a light lunch. The restaurant bills itself as a grill and seafood place, but we sought something a bit lighter as we waited for the rain to subside. Tracy had a creamy soup and Dale opted
for the duck bruschetta, both washed down with a nice class of Rose. There are worse ways to pass a rainy day on Duck Bruschettathe coast! [Website]

Konoba Fetivi:
Kenobo FetiviKonoba Fetivi
            InteriorOn our final night in Split (isn't it funny how well your memory works when it comes to food?) we trudged up the hill from the riva to visit Konoba Fetivi. This is a very unassuming place, and its interior is decorated in an almost "picnic" style with slatted tables and chairs and a very nautical theme throughout. It definitely had a "you are at the beach feel," and the wait staff were friendly and knowledgeable. However, we did not miss the "Michelin Star" award on the door, and we knew we would be in for a treat. Placing ourselves in the hands of the chef, he prepared a platter of squid and two types of local fish that were delicious. [Michelin Guide Page]
Konoba Fetivi Interior

Makarun Street EntranceCourtyardWe visited the Makarun restaurant at the suggestion of the staff of the Judita Palace Heritage Hotel. It was located on a side street, less than a minute away from the hotel, very convenient when winter rains threaten. This was more of a fine dining experience. The street entrance, shown in the photo to the left, leads patrons down a set of stairs and into a courtyard, shown in the photo to the right. Beyond the courtyard is the interior dining area, shown in the photo at the bottom left. Behind the main indoor dining area is a bar that was doing a very healthy volume of business the night we visited. My epicurean memory fails me, but I believe that I had a tenderloin and Tracy dined on fish. Interior[Website]

Villa Spiza:

Villa Spiza ExteriorVilla Spiza InteriorOur first night, again on the advice of the hotel staff, we sought a nearby restaurant favored by locals. Villa Spiza offers local seafood in an informal setting, a series of high tables that overlook the kitchen. The friendly wait staff advised us on what was available that day.  By the time we arrived the menu was rather limited. So, taking the suggestion from the waiter, we dined on shrimps from the Adriatic.  Tasty but, coming from Asia, I understand why these crustaceans are called shrimp and not prawns, as that is generally a good indication of their relative size. And these were the BIG ones! Still a tasty but mess meal was had by us both. [Facebook Page]
Adriatic Shrimp

Diocletian's Palace

Of course, the two main draws of Split are the beaches and the palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian. Sampling the beaches will have to wait for warmer weather, but we did have two days to explore Diocletian's Palace.  As explained in the virtual tour below, an ailing Diocletian retired here following his successful efforts to revive a flagging Roman Empire. His reforms of the government and military, as well as his division of the empire into east and west, was successful. The united Roman Empire continued for a little over 200 years, while the eastern portion-the Byzantine Empire--continued another 1,148 years, until its fall in 1453. The tour will take you throught the remaining vestiges of the emperor's "retirement home."

Virtual Tour of Diocletian's Palace
Porta Aurea (Golden Gate)Snap Content

Virtual Reality Tour for VR Headsets:

QR CodeThere is also a version of this tour designed specifically for VR headsets such as Google
Cardboard, and it works with both iPhone and Android devices. It may be accessed by scanning
on the QR code to the left. If you are viewing this on a mobile phone, you may access the VR tour by following this link.

For iOS devices
: scan QR code with your device's camera app, tap on the prompt to open Safari. Select "Allow Device Motion" and the next prompt, "Allow Access to Motion Orientation." Turn the device to landscape mode and a split screen will appear. When the screen turns white, swipe up for fullscreen mode, and place in headset. Here is a video of how to do this--it is simpler than it sounds! [The video opens in a new window--close when done to return to this page]

For Android devices: Open the camera app and use the built-in scanner to scan the QR code above. Confirm that you want to open the website, and wait for it to load--it should load in stereo view. Select the fullscreen ("X" option) from the menu at the bottom. Turn the device to landscape mode and you are ready to go. Here is a video of how to do this--it is simpler than it sounds! [The video opens in a new window--close when done to return to this page]

Mestrovic Gallery
            InteriorAnother must-see in Split is the Gallery of sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. Born in Slavonia, he apprenticed in Split and made it his adopted home, even as he gained world-wide fame. The gallery occupies the former summer villa of the sculptor, one of several properties he acquired in Split.   The villa is in a prime location on a hill overlooking the Adriatic, a short walk from the city's historic center. Originally the two wings of the villa were to be residences, while the central area was an exhibition hall.  In 1952, Metrovic dontated the villa and its grounds to Croatia. Many of the interior walls were removed to set up a series of exhibition spaces. Below is a video of the Mestrovic Gallery, offering an overview of the Gallery, and its grounds.

Video of Mestrovic Gallery and Grounds

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