Diocletian built this massive palace in preparation for his retirement on 1 May 305 AD. It is situated in a bay on the south side of a short peninsula running out from the Dalmatian coast, four miles from the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. The Romans eventually abandoned the site and the Palace was then empty for several centuries, until the 7th Century when nearby residents fled to the palace to escape invading Slavs. Since then the palace has been occupied, with residents making their homes and businesses within the basement and in its walls. The palace, as with all the important historical buildings of Split is in the city centre. Diocletian’s Palace transcends its local importance due to its unusually good preservation and is one of the most famous and complete architectural features on the Adriatic coast. It is the world’s most complete remains of a Roman palace, holding a place in world heritage.
Split waterfront is a public, open space which is 1700 years old and lies in front of Diocletian’s Palace. The modular Roman form of the palace is reflected in the new modular network of concrete elements laid on Riva and the arrangement and positions of other elements of the area. 250 meters long and 55 meters wide, it is also a main public square, which hosts all kinds of social events, promenades, shopping and dining.
Twelve sphinxes were brought to Split after Emperor Diocletian put down a rebellion in Egypt in around the year 297. Unfortunately of this twelve, only one survives today and it stands at the Peristyle. This sphinx on the Peristyle is made of black granite and dates from to the period of pharaoh Tuthmosis III, who lived from 1479 until 1425 BC. It is carved with a vessel for offerings in its hands. Like a lot of the palace itself, the sphinxes were decapitated and destroyed when Christianity arrived and that this one survived is a mystery.