Sites in Split: Salona, The Ruins of an Ancient City

Total Croatia News

Travellers visiting Split often miss a trip to the ruins of the Roman city of Salona only five kilometers from the city as it has been overshadowed by the popular Diocletian’s Palace, built later.

The first traces of life in Salona began in the first millennium BC when the Greeks set up a marketplace here. After the Romans conquered the region, a city was formed and became the capital city of the Roman province of Dalmatia. Other than vandalism by the Venetians, Salona was mostly destroyed in the 6th century during the invasions of the Avars and Slavs where after, the citizens of Salona took refuge in Diocletian’s Palace. Actually, Salona was Diocletian’s hometown before he retired to his new palace in Split.

Amongst the impressive remains, you will find the tops of the arches of a 1st century aqueduct where water came in from the nearby River Jadro, as well as the relics of thermal baths used by Romans.

In Salona you will find the magnificent remains of a 2nd century amphitheater, which was believed to have a capacity of up to 20,000 spectators. Unfortunately, Venetians destroyed the amphitheater in the 17th century, stripping it of marble to use for their palace. An interesting feature, unseen in other Roman amphitheaters, is that it has underground channels.

Another fascinating site is the Manastirine, one of the largest open graveyards where early Christian martyrs were buried. Although archeological digs here are not complete, one thousand sarcophagi, burial chapels, and graves have been discovered, one believed to be that of Saint Domnius (Sv. Duje), patrol saint of Split and 3rd century bishop of Salona. By the entrance to the Manastirine is a sarcophagus with the remains of the 19th century Croatian archeologist Don Frane Bulić who devoted his career to the study of Early Christian artifacts, particularly those in Salona. Adjacent it’s the Tusclulum, once the base of Don Frane Bulić’s archeological work and today a museum.

In the episcopal complex, you will also come across the ruins of Early Christian graveyards with basilicas from the 4th century. Next to the city walls is the oldest, ‘basilica of the five martyrs’ built over the graves of five martyrs; priest Asterius and four soldiers of the imperial guard. On the site, there is also a 5th century three-nave cathedral and an impressive octagonal baptistery. Other than the two basilicas to be seen in Salona, an additional eight have been discovered however, their movable monuments are now displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Split.

To get to Salona (Solin), take bus 37 towards to Trogir from the main bus station (Sukoišan) on Domoviskog rata.


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