This morning I took the bus from Bosnia back to Croatia. After a few hours, I arrived in Split, a relatively large city which serves as the gateway for many of the Croatian islands. Since my goal was to reach Budapest in three days or so, I did not have time to visit any of the islands (next trip, perhaps). I tentatively planned to spend a night in Split and take an early bus to Plitvice Lakes National Park. When I got off the bus, these plans fell apart, as the only early bus to Plitvice was already sold out and the people hawking rooms at the bus station were asking for too much. After a brief debate with myself, I bought an afternoon ticket for Zadar, a smaller city two hours north (and closer to Plitvice). This gave me about three hours to explore Split.
As it turns out, this was enough time, as there was exactly one thing I was interested in seeing. Diocletian's Palace was built at the beginning of the fourth century by the emperor Diocletian and was abandoned after his death. Several centuries passed, during which the palace fell into ruin. In the seventh century, the remains of the palace were used as a refuge against invaders, and eventually a city sprung up in and among the ruins, which today is the city of Split.
Eager to see this architectural hodgepodge for myself, I headed to the golden gate, the main entrance to the palace.
This is the silver gate, another entrance to the palace.
The peristyle was the colonnaded central courtyard of the palace.
Here is a closeup of the colonnade.
The round vestibule was the entrance to Diocletian's living quarters.
The acoustics in the vestibule are wonderful, and I saw a vocal quartet performing traditional Dalmatian music there.
Diocletian's mausoleum was converted to a cathedral.
A few Roman elements are still present. Just below the dome you can see racing chariots.
The temple of Jupiter was converted to a baptistry. This is the spectacular ceiling of that building.
A few areas underneath the palace are empty and can be explored for a small fee.
Finally, here is the emperor himself.
And some slacking Roman soldiers.
At around 1600 I split Split. When I arrived in Zadar, I found more affordable lodging (it was advertised as "10 minutes" from the city center, which ended up being more like 20) and got a ticket for early morning bus to Plitvice. There were a bunch of people from France staying at the same guesthouse, so I ended up eating dinner and drinking wine with them. I also got another chance to practice French, which was fun and made my brain hurt (in a good way). Quite a win, all in all.