SPLIT - NEIGHBORHOODS
Split`s Old Town
Split`s Old Town is widely understood to mean the oldest portions of Split: everything inside the rough parameters of Republic Square to the west, Silver Gate and the Pazar to the east, the Riva waterfront area to the south, and the Gregory of Nin statue/Strossmayer Park to the north. This area covers about fifty acres, and nearly all of it is pedestrianized. If you need to reach taxi ranks from the Old Town, you can find the nearest ones at Franjo Tudjman Square on the western end of Riva, on Marmontova ulica one block from the Croatian National Theatre in Split, and on Hrvojeva ulica close to Riva.
The oldest portions of the Old Town are centered around Diocletian`s Palace, constructed between 295 and 305 CE, at the behest of Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was from Salona (approximately four miles northeast of Diocletian`s Palace). In the year 305, Diocletian abdicated his position as Roman Emperor suddenly, and retired to the newly-constructed palace where he spent the last years of his life and was eventually interred. After two centuries, the Romans abandoned the settlement around Diocletian`s Palace, and the estate fell into ruin. In the seventh century, the local population of the nearby area was fleeing an intruding army and was forced to take cover inside Diocletian`s Palace. Afterward, many families started operating businesses inside the palace`s walls, living in rooms upstairs. This is the `beginning` of modern-day Split, as the nucleus of population began to grow and thrive again from the Old Town, eventually fanning outward to suburbs by the Middle Ages.
The southernmost area of the Old Town, along the waterfront, is called the Riva. It is a two-acre area which stretches 1000 feet between Franjo Tudjman Square to the west and the Split ferry terminal to the east, along Obala Hrvatskog narodnog preporoda. The Riva was designed during the time of the Napoleonic conquest, and it has been widened many times since then. Today the Riva waterfront area is the place to `see and be seen` in Split, with cafes and restaurants lining the walk, making it a perfect stop for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and lingering afterwards. The Riva is home to many yearly cultural and entertainment events, such as the Split carnival.
There are four entrances into Diocletian`s Palace. The major entrance, Golden Gate, is located to the north of the complex, opposite Strossmayer Park. The entrance accessible from Riva is Brass Gate. You can reach the western entrance, Iron Gate, from People`s Square (Pjaca). Silver Gate, the eastern entrance, can be accessed from Hrvojeva ulica. In Diocletian`s day, visitors would enter via the Brass Gate and would wait to be received in the vestibule. From there, they would be led into the Peristyle, the main palace square. On one side of the Peristyle, there is a set of buildings which lead to Jupiter`s Temple. On the other side, there is St. Domnius Cathedral and Diocletian`s Mausoleum. Other noteworthy points of interest located inside Diocletian`s Palace include the cellars (or `substructures`), a complete replication of Diocletian`s living quarters; the Split Ethnographic Museum; and a black granite sphinx that Diocletian received from the Egyptians in the late third century CE.
The area that is referred to as Split`s modern-day city center is the area just outside the Old Town. This area can roughly be broken down into two parts: to the west of the Old Town, you will find an area called Veli Varos, and to the northeast of the Old Town, the neighborhood there is called Gripe.
Veli Varos was one of the first neighborhoods formed outside the Old Town, with the oldest buildings in the area dating from the eleventh century. Once a poor area populated by fishermen, the residential options in Veli Varos are becoming more and more luxurious as property values have skyrocketed in last three decades. You will notice that a lot of the boutique accommodation options in Split are located in this neighborhood. You can walk the Riva down from the Old Town to Sustipan, a green space on the Split Channel, and the ACI Marina Split, both points of interest in Veli Varos. The Church and Monastery of St. Francis is also located in the district, just west of Franjo Tudjman Square.
Then there is the Gripe neighborhood, positioned north of Bacvice and to the northeast of the Old Town. Gripe is `newer` than Veli Varos, meaning the buildings there only date from the Renaissance, which considering how old Diocletian`s Palace is, that is comparatively new! The point of interest that most visitors will be interested in seeing in the Gripe neighborhood is the Croatian Maritime Museum, situated inside the courtyard of the seventeenth-century Gripe Fortress. It is also home to the Arts Academy of the University of Split, and a number of accommodations, varying from self-service apartments to lavish hotels.
Bacvice is the neighborhood immediately southeast of the Old Town, covering roughly the same size area. Ulica kralja Zvonimira is the northern boundary, and the eastern boundary is roughly Viska ulica, east of Setaliste Bacvice and Bacvice Beach. Bacvice Beach is the only sandy beach in Split, and due to its close proximity to the city center, it is popular with locals and tourists alike. As a visitor, you will come to Bacvice most likely due to Bacvice Beach, perhaps for the accommodations in the area (clustered along Ulica kralja Zvonimira and Pojisanska ulica), and for transport reasons, as the intercity bus station, ferry terminal, and train station are all located in Bacvice.
Many tourists will not be seeing much of Poljud, the area north of the Old Town which includes the smaller sub-neighborhood of Lovret. The neighborhoods that make up the Poljud region are mixed commercial and residential and are the bridge between the city center of Split and its suburbs. In Poljud the sights that may be of most interest to tourists would be Split Predgrade train station, a large shopping mall and a casino next door (both just to the west of the train station), the Spaladium Arena which hosts major-scale international concerts, and Stadion Poljud, home to the football club Hajduk Split. Lovret is home to the University of Split, the Church of Our Lady of Good Health, and the city`s archaeology museum.
The Marjan Peninsula, west of the Old Town and the City Center, is one of the most beautiful areas of town. Houses and private accommodations are at their most opulent and luxurious on the Marjan Peninsula, particularly in Meje, the most exclusive neighborhood in Split. Meje is located in the area west of the Marjan Tunnel and south of Marjan Forest Park. Marjan Forest Park, the area of the Marjan Peninsula that isn`t the Meje neighborhood, is the largest green space in Split, and has been called `the lungs of the city` by locals for generations. The one point of interest on the Marjan Peninsula that will most likely interest travelers to Split is the Mestrovic Gallery, a two-story art museum dedicated to the father of modern Croatian sculpture, Ivan Mestrovic. Bene Beach and Kasjuni Beach are located in Marjan, while Meje`s public beach is Jezinac Beach. The main street on the Marjan Peninsula, running parallel to the southern coast, is Setaliste Ivana Mestrovica.