ROHILAS IN EUROPE-VIII
September 27-October 14, 2007
Early in the morning, we left Dubrovnik. We proceeded along the beautiful Adriatic coast enjoying picturesque coastal sights.
Early in the afternoon, we reached Split, Croatia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A view of Split from Salona
Split is Croatia’s largest port. Even during the Venetian rule (1420-1797) it was one of the Adriatic’s main trading ports.
After a brief orientation, we had our lunch at a fast-food pizza outlet. After lunch we were ready for a guided walking tour of Split.
Our first destination was the Emperor Diocletian’s summer palace to which Split owes its origin.
Bust of Diocletian in the medallions of the frieze inside the Cathedral
We entered the palace complex by the Bronze Gate, which faces the sea on the town’s south.
Born in Salona, the capital of the province of Dalmatia, Diocletian ruled the Roman Empire from its capital at Nicomedia, starting in 284. In 303, he banned Christianity. It was followed by execution of numerous Christians, confiscation of their property, and destruction of their churches.
Built in 295, the palace was the emperor’s full-time residence from his abdication in 305, until his death in 316.
In the palace, a spacious central courtyard has been the main public meeting place ever since the Roman times. Currently it is the venue of the Split Summer Festival.
The courtyard is surrounded by arches and Corinthian columns, built with the marble brought from Italy and Greece.
The black granite 1500B.C. sphinx was brought all the way from Egypt, then a part of the Roman Empire.
After his death in 316, Diocletian was buried within the palace walls. Ironically, sometime later, his mausoleum was converted to a Catholic cathedral. It is believed to be the world’s oldest cathedral. The cathedral is dedicated to Salona’s Bishop Dominius, who had been executed by Diocletian. The cathedral’s 200-ft Romanesque-Gothic wedding-cake bell tower was added much later.
Outside the Golden Gate on the town’s north is the statue of Gregory of Nin by Artist Ivan Mastrovich, the Croatian Rodin, who later moved to the USA.
In 615, after Salona’s sacking by barbarian tribes, some of its people found refuge in the Diocletian’s Palace. Even now people live and work in the various palace structures. Gradually the settlement expanded beyond the Palace walls and grew into a large urban center.
Split’s narrow streets and public squares are lined with homes, shops and public buildings.
In one square stands the statue of Marko Maurulic (1450-15240, the Father of Croatian Language. One of his poems is carved on its pedestal.
The Palace overlooks the waterfront promenade. The palm-lined promenade has many restaurants and cafes.
Some buildings on the western end of the promenade are splendid testimonials to the Venetian influence.
On the eastern end of the promenade is the Green Market.
The saga of lost purse
In hurry, this morning, Kundan left her purse in the restroom our hotel at Dubrovnik. The purse contained keys to our suitcases, as well as her credit cards, driver’s license, and some cash.
A few miles on the way, as soon as she realized what she had done, we informed our Tour Director. But he ignored us.
At our first stop, at Neum in Bosnia-Herzegovina, we asked him, if we could borrow his cell phone to call the hotel. He got irritated and demanded 9 Euros before he could allow us to use his cell phone. We gave him the money, and called the hotel.
The hotel manager told us that they had Kundan’s purse in their office. If we fax him the exact address, he offered to send it to us there.
As soon as we reached out hotel at Split, we talked to Ani Relja, the reception clerk. She was very courteous and faxed the address of our hotel at Zagreb to the hotel at Dubrovnik, and phoned the Zagreb hotel to hold the parcel for us, until we get there two day later. She refused to accept our offer to pay for her expenses. Instead she gifted us a bottle of brandy.
Later, at our request Ani Relja sent one hotel employee to help us break open locks on our suitcases. He t$runed down our offer of a tip.
Kundan and were touched by their kindness. I wrote a nice note of appreciation about them to the hotel management.
For pictures, please see my blog at http://pritam-rohila-travels.blogspot.com