The Most Impressive Buildings in Split, Croatia

Cathedral of Saint Domnius
Cathedral of Saint Domnius | © Jorge Brazil/Flickr
Peterjon Cresswell

From the time of Ancient Rome onwards, Split has proved an irresistible setting for emperors, mayors and sculptors to construct major edifices. An Adriatic location helps, as does proximity to a large supply of quality stone and marble on the island of Brač. The result is a city full of architectural treasures and reverence for the heritage they represent.

Cathedral of Saint Domnius

1. Cathedral of Saint Domnius


Croatian National Theatre
© Martin Hendrikx/Flickr
As your boat pulls into Split, the most notable landmark as you look over from the harbour to the historic centre is the bell tower of Saint Domnius. Built in a combination of Romanesque and Gothic styles reflecting its centuries-long construction after the 1200s, the tower owes its current look to a 1908 restoration. The Cathedral, created as the mausoleum for the Emperor Diocletian, is somewhat more conservative in style. Today’s visitor may climb the tower’s six storeys for a panoramic view of Split, the harbour and Adriatic beyond.

2. Diocletian’s Palace


Built in the early fourth century as a fortified retirement complex for a Roman emperor, Diocletian’s Palace remains a grandiose construction of white stone and marble transported from nearby Brač island. More a labyrinthine complex of courtyards and alleyways than a single building, Diocletian’s Palace is also the core of modern-day Split. Overlooking the Adriatic, it’s a constant bustle of activity. Many locals live and run many businesses within the palace and even around the grand central square known as the Peristil, with its pristine sphinx from 1,500BC.

3. Poljud Stadium


The Poljud is more than just the main football stadium in Split. Overlooking the Adriatic, it was created by architect Boris Magaš as a futuristic arena worthy of staging the Mediterranean Games of 1979. He and his team worked night and day to complete this masterwork, inspired by the outdoor theatres of Classical Greece and fashioned in the form of a seashell. Nearly 40 years after its construction, the Poljud remains an innovative and striking piece of stadium architecture. Magaš may not, however, have envisioned his creation being used for a three-day techno festival, Ultra Europe.

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