DIOCLETIAN PALACE..... I spent a big chunk of the day in the palace half of the domino. Diocletian, Roman emperor from 284 - 305 A.D., grew up near Split. As he planned his retirement, he wanted to return to his homeland. Of course, he really didn't do any of the work. The entire complex was built in eleven years and more than 2,000 slaves died while building it. No idea how many didn't die.

The main way to enter the complex is from the Riva, a walkway between the palace grounds and the waterfront. In Diocletian's day, the water backed up directly to the palace. It provided a waterway exit if needed. The emperor and his family lived in the part of the palace facing the water. Who wouldn't want a view of the Adriatic? The front half of the complex was home for his 700 soldiers, servants, and bodyguards.

Diocletian considered himself to be the son of the Roman god Jupiter. He didn't seem to like Christians at all. As he moved into his new home, he slaughtered Christians even in the crypt of his mausoleum. One of the first to die was Dominus, the Bishop of Salona. It comes as no surprise, when Diocletian died, there was riotous celebration. In the seventh century, his mausoleum was converted into a cathedral and named after the slain bishop. The cathedral bell tower was begun in the 13th century and took 300 years to complete. It provided a magnificent view of the city. The Roman Emperor Diocletian would probably roll over in his grave if he knew what had become of his mausoleum. However, nobody knows what happened to his body or really cares about him. In one of life's twists of poetic justice, this emperor who persecuted Christians has Christian saints buried in his mausoleum.


The village that built up inside the palace grounds the bell tower
Arches and artist's rendition of the palace grounds central courtyard
Copyright 2008 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.