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  • Frances Schwabenland

Game of Thrones & Diocletian's Palace

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Who knew when I was looking out the window in high school biology class, that one day I would be palace hopping through Croatia! Life sometimes is even better than dreams!

Anyway, I really did try to get into watching Game of Thrones. I like being able to join into conversations that were taking place all around me but I just couldn't. By the 3rd episode, I was wiped out and exhausted. Who thinks of all that violence? I was told not to get too connected with any character! Hence, my writing here will be sparse since I can't give all the details and connections.

Diocletian was born in Croatia and rose through the ranks to become Emperor at age 39, taking up residence in Split, a beautiful seaside port. This man was known for the last and bloodiest persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. The man was also a narcissistic god want to be. He had a Jupiter complex! Of course he needed to have the largest palace around so he built a luxury villa and a Roman military camp divided by two man streets. It took approximately 10 years to build this and the more extravagant the better. It was completed in 300 A.D. and he lived there for only 11 years before his death. 150 years later, it was abandoned until the 7th century when Dalmatians fled here and transformed it into a working city with stores, homes and businesses. Paybacks can be a ______ because Diocletian's resting place became Split's cathedral...The Cathedral of Saint Domnius! Today, over 3,000 people live and work within these palace walls and they drew in the cast of Game of Thrones. I was told that the basement (the black entrance at the end of my photograph) was where Daenerys kept her dragon. Now, the only thing kept there are stalls and stalls of vendors. I think in my next life I would like to be a scout for filming locations, but I digress.

Here on this beautiful town on the Adriatic Sea, centuries of architecture are layered on top of each other. Electric wires cross pillars and havens from days long gone. We were fortunate enough to stay at the Hotel Plazza Heritage which is located in the Pjaca, the focal point of Split's historic center. With 16 luxuriously appointed rooms in a former palace dating back to 1906. It was built in the Viennese Art Nouveau style of the time. The hotel is the only individually protected cultural monument by UNESCO. We were surrounded by chic and trendy boutiques, restaurants with a bakery and gelato right across from us. Who needs anything more!?

Split is truly fascinating. I would highly recommend two walking historical tour and of course a food tasting tour but if you can combine the two the way we did, even better!

While walking through the Green Market located in Diocletian's Palace, we tasted the unique mixture of culinary delicacies with a Mediterranean, Central European and Eastern influence. We tasted traditional peasant pie known as "sopamik" and ended at the oldest pastry shop in Split with traditional pastries and gelato. Tasting and listening developed our multi-tasking ability and the wonders of Split were imprinted onto our wanderlust spirits.

PS...if you want luck, be sure to rub the big toe of the huge statue (28 feet) of Gregory of Nin, just outside the city gates. He was a bishop who in 926 opposed the Catholic Church because he wanted the Croatian national language to be used for religious services. The Catholic Church would not hear of anything other than Latin and thus, Gregory became a beloved figure for honoring the Croatian culture and language. I felt so lucky just to be there so I guess it worked!

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