20 Must-Visit Attractions in Split, Croatia

Trg Republike | © Nikolaj Potanin/Flickr
Trg Republike | © Nikolaj Potanin/Flickr
Photo of Peterjon Cresswell
27 July 2017

Its heart comprised of the major historical sight of Diocletian’s Palace, Split contains a scattering of mainly old-school museums. You’ll also find striking statuary by Ivan Meštrović, whose villa is a must-see gallery. Other attractions include two busy markets, a hidden synagogue and a cathedral once built for a Roman emperor.

Split City Museum

Museum
Map View
Split City Museum
© brownpau / Flickr
Housed in the former mansion of the noble Papalić family, the Split City Museum covers over 2,000 years of urban history. An artist’s impression shows how the surrounding Diocletian’s Palace would have looked in its heyday a map indicates where Allied bombed fell during World War II.

Statue of Marko Marulić

Created by Ivan Meštrović, the statue of Split-born Renaissance poet Marko Marulić centrepieces Trg Braće Radić, the square known as Voćni trg as it once housed the fruit market. Captured mid-stanza, Marulić is known for his Latin-language treatise on psychology but more revered for his Croatian poetry.

Trg Braće Radić, Split, Croatia

Archaeological Museum

Museum
Map View
Archaeological Museum
© Stéphane Gallay / Flickr
Filled with finds from around Dalmatia, the Archaeological Museum is based around a collection first established 200 years ago. Highlights include a late-Neolithic ceramic bowl discovered on Hvar and a bust of the Emperor Trajan unearthed in Split. There’s also a warrior’s helmet from the Graeco-Illyrian period of 400BC.

Riva

Running between the Diocletian’s Palace and the sea, the café-lined Riva is the city’s communal meeting place. Officially named Obala Hrvatskog narodnog preporoda (‘Waterfront of the Croatian National Revival’), the Riva was landscaped by Napoleonic ruler Marshal Marmont. Revamped in 2007, the Riva hosts prominent cultural events and celebrations.

Obala Hrvatskog narodnog preporoda, Split, Croatia

Fish market

Market, Seafood
Map View
Fish market
Fish market | © Dennis Jarvis/Flickr
Known by locals as the Peškarija, Split’s fish market has been in place since the late 1800s. Comprising an indoor hall and a outdoor space giving out onto pedestrianised Marmontova, the fish market purveys all kinds of seafood, from baracudas to squid to shellfish. Browsing is an education in itself.

Diocletian’s Palace

Built in the early fourth century as a fortified retirement home for a Roman emperor, Diocletian’s Palace is a grandiose construction of white stone transported from Brač. A labyrinthine complex of courtyards and alleyways, it’s a hive of activity. Many live and run businesses within, even around focal Peristil, with its sphinx from 1,500BC.

Diocletian’s Palace, Split, Croatia

Kaštelet

Purchased by Ivan Meštrović in 1939 as a ruined 16th-century residence, Kaštelet houses his great work The Life of Christ, a series of 28 reliefs in wood guarded over by the Crucifixion. Exiled to America, Meštrović returned to continue his work here 20 years later, his last visit to Croatia.

Kaštelet, Šetalište Ivana Meštrovića 39, Split, Croatia, +385 21 340 800

Synagogue

Synagogue
Map View
Synagogue | © Erin and Joe/Flickr
Synagogue | © Erin and Joe/Flickr
Hidden away in a passageway off Bosanska in Diocletian’s Palace, the synagogue is one of the oldest still active in Europe. Set on the second floor across adjoining medieval houses, with a tasteful interior dating to the early 1700s, the synagogue is open to visitors whenever ceremonies aren’t taking place.

Gallery of Fine Arts

A bright, contemporary space with an attractive café, the Gallery of Fine Arts displays around 400 works from its permanent collection of 5,000. The upper level concentrates on Venetian Masters while downstairs is more modern and localised, with paintings by Vlaho Bukovac and a bronze statue of Leo Tolstoy by Ivan Meštrović.

Gallery of Fine Arts, Kralja Tomislava 15, Split, Croatia, +385 21 350 110

Gallery of Fine Arts café | Courtesy of Gallery of Fine Arts

Cathedral of Saint Domnius

Cathedral
Map View
Croatian National Theatre
Croatian National Theatre | © Martin Hendrikx/Flickr
Created as a staid mausoleum for the Emperor Diocletian, Split Cathedral is less spectacular than its landmark tower would suggest. Built in a combination of Romanesque and Gothic styles, it attracts swarms of tourists keen to climb up the six-flight campanile for the panoramic view.

Split Market

Market, European
Map View
Split Market
© Francisco Gonzalez / Flickr
Pretty much a 24-hour operation, setting up before dawn, its bars filled until late evening, Split’s market lines the eastern flank of Diocletian’s Palace. Amid the piles of fresh fruit and vegetables, you’ll find honeys, olive oils and various home-made spirits, as well as towels and accoutrements for the beach.

Croatian Maritime Museum

Museum
Map View
The little-known Croatian Maritime Museum, set in the Gripe fortress, contains artefacts from the seminal Battle of Lepanto in 1571 and the Battle of Vis in 1866, as well as early torpedoes, invented in Rijeka in the 1860s. Boats of a similar era stand on view in the courtyard.