Interesting facts about the city of Split you probably didn’t know
THE FOUNDATION OF SPLIT
Split is the biggest Dalmatian city and second largest in Croatia, with approximately 160 000 people living in it. It was founded as a Greek colony, and at the time it was called Aspalathos. Later on, it received Roman refugees that started moving into the walls of the Diocletian’s palace (home to the Roman emperor Diocletian) after the nearby Salona was completely burned and destroyed, due to many wars. In the years to come, Split was under the rule of different foreign rulers, up to 1944 when it was liberated and included in post-war Yugoslavia, as a part of Croatia. In 1991, Croatia withdrew from Yugoslavia and Split became one of its main cities.
THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME ‘SPLIT’
According to a legend, the city of Split got its name from beautiful yellow flowers that you can see all over the hills of Split in the period of spring. It is believed that those flowers were either Spiny broom or Spanish broom, that Greeks used to call Aspalathos, which later changed to Spalato, and eventually it became Split.
However, there’s another theory saying the name came from the Diocletian's Palace or ‘palatium’. It’s up to you to choose whether you believe in legends and what theory you consider to be more trustworthy.
SPLIT AS A FAMOUS TOURIST DESTINATION
In the last few years, Split has become one of the biggest Croatian tourist destinations, with more than a 20 percent annual rise. Split gets more than 2800 hours of sunshine yearly, which makes it a great destination. With its rich cultural and historical heritage, lavish architecture, art, vibrance and spirit, Split is a city worth visiting, but more importantly, it's worth getting to know it.
NO OTHER PLACE LIKE SPLIT
The people of Split, the so-called ‘Splicani’, are very proud of their city and history. Its cultural and historical richness has also been recognized by UNESCO, since the entire Diocletian’s Palace along with the city’s historical center was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. For all its visitors, Split is a city that most certainly presents a unique experience.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT SPLIT
In addition, there are some interesting things you probably didn’t know about this beautiful city.
Unexpected and unknown
1. 12 Egyptian sphinxes have been found so far in the city, which were brought there by the emperor Diocletian, who was a great admirer of art, and Egyptian culture in general. One of these sphinxes, the one standing at the main square of the Diocletian’s Palace, so called Perisitl, is probably one of the top five most photographed spots in Split. It was made approximately 3500 years ago and is the best-preserved sphinx in Split, as well as the most famous one.
2. The square of Peristil is one of the most famous parts of the town. It used to be the center of the Palace, and opinions on how it was created are still divided. Some believe that it was an artistic movement, and others see it as a protest against communism. Those responsible for its creation were brought to court, two of them committed suicide, and the real reason behind this act was never resolved.
Peristil is surrounded with palaces and is one of the most lively and visited places in Split since, due to its natural acoustics,it’s the main stage to many happenings in the summertime, such as concerts and traditional dalmatian ‘A Capella’ singing, produced by small groups of men or women, known by the name ‘klapa’.
3. One of the most famous sculptures of Split is the giant statue of Grgur Ninski, located in front of the Golden Gate. He was a famous medieval bishop and is remembered as a hero since he defended the usage of Croatian language in liturgy. Moreover, it’s a very popular tourist attraction, as it is believed that by rubbing his toe, it will bring you 10 years of luck. In fact, Virtual Tourist placed it as one of the 10 lucky charms in the world.
4. The Cathedral of Saint Domnius, consecrated at the turn of the 7th century AD, is known as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world, which is still in use in its original form, without significant changes (except for altars and the bell tower dating from the 12th century). It was originally built as Diocletian’s mausoleum and during the Middle Ages, Christians converted it into a place of worship and removed all pagan images.
5. Split has a synagogue which is the third oldest and still active synagogue in Europe, but Jewish community history is far richer than that. In the 2nd century, they lived in nearby Salona, a 60,000 strong capital of the Roman province Dalmatia. After Barbarians from the east destroyed the city, people fled towards the Diocletian's Palace as did the Jews and settled in the southeast corner of the Palace. At this location, in the Substructures, there are carved menorahs still visible, which might symbolize that the first synagogue was based there.
6. The Tourism boom in Split has its central point, it’s the Ultra Europe music festival, a huge event which attracts tens of thousands to Split and Poljud stadium from all over the world. Ultra-Europe has made people notice Split and make it a place to visit. Incredible videos made by Ultra are the best imaginable advertising for the city, with millions of YouTube views. Watch the latest Ultra Europe after the movie and check it out for yourself.
7. Everywhere in Croatia, having coffee is a ritual, which is a way of life in Split. Inviting someone for a coffee doesn't even have to include coffee, it's just a way to spend some time socializing. The climate Split has, makes everything easier.
Famous athletes and artists
1. The city of Split was an inspiration and shelter for many renowned artists such as Marko Marulić, also known as “the father of Croatian literature”. The works of this 15th century writer were so popular that some of them were also published in Japan.
2. Split is a famous sporting city and proudly holds the title of the city with the most Olympic medals per capita. As such, it’s the home of many well-known athletes and sportsmen such as Toni Kukoč, Dino Rađa, Ivano Balić, Blanka Vlašić, Goran Ivanišević, Mario Ančić, Nikola Pilić, Aljoša Asanović, Đurđica Bjedov, and many others. Some of their names are engraved on the Walk of Fame on the newest city's promenade West Riva. A long story short, the city ‘breathes’ sport.
WHY TO VISIT?
The details about Split, listed above, are just a few among numerous reasons why you should visit this amazing city. It’s a unique place, rich with history, sunshine, sea, all possible types of coffee, and friendly people. It’s a place that stays in your memories for a lifetime and the best way to get to know it completely is to take a Split walking tour with a local guide.
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