Where beauty is nature’s second nature.
Apartments-kastela_com_009When, in the year 305, the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruled the entire world at that time, decided to build his leisure-time abode – in which he intended to spend the rest of his life – he had no doubt as to exactly where build to it. In the very heart of Dalmatia, in the bay of Aspalathos (Split), well protected from the sea by the islands of the Split archipelago, and defended on its landward side by high mountains, Diocletian created a special point on the map of the Adriatic: the future city of Split.

A Roman Emperor’s magnificent city
A mere 6 km from cosmopolitan Salona, then the center of the province of Dalmatia which boasted up to 60,000 inhabitants, Split was protected by strong walls and numerous fortresses, with many temples, palaces, thermae, and which today is the greatest complex of monuments in Croatia dating from Antiquity. The residence Diocletian built for himself was beyond comparison in his time. Although the Palace has lost many of its original features over the past 17 centuries it has been enriched by subsequent architectural and artistic interventions. Among them, somewhat ironically, a Catholic cathedral, or rather that part of it which rose out of the magnificent mausoleum of the last pagan Roman emperor. The cathedral is dedicated to St. Domnius, a Christian martyred by that very same Diocletian. The most striking feature of the cathedral is its famous walnut door frame constructed in 1214, and carved by Master Carver Andrija Buvina. Successfully withstanding time’s thievish progress, deeply embedded into the texture of the city at its densely populated historical heart, full of enchanting stone palaces, Diocletian’s residence today is a place of cellars that ring with song. One can feast here on local specialties, from delicacies of the sea to lamb and the “arambašići” of Sinj, washed down with the finest of red wines. Concealed within its embrace is what locals like to call the smallest street in the world, which carries a rather curious name: Let me pass. Altogether, this enchanting, unique heart of Split has rightly been declared a monument of zero category and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
True charm of the southern Mediterranean
A wash in the warm charm of the Mediterranean, Split is a city with rich history, not only within the walls of its museums, palaces and churches, but in the city itself. Its heritage speaks loudest and has done so since the times of antiquity, on the Peristyle and from its stone houses; while the true Mediterranean spirit lives in the vibrant cellars, in the murmur at street corners, in squares and alleyways, in the beauty of the waterfront. If you follow the weave of these white, stone-paved streets to the edge of the sea which gently rocks the moored boats, you will discover a city in which the famous Roman emperor left the imperial mark of his presence on every corner, together with the saint he decided to execute. Another special aspect of this city are the songs, and the successes achieved by its athletes – including a Wimbledon winner – numerous Olympic champions and NBA stars, and, they say, the most beautiful women in the world. If you harbour any doubts as to the latter, just take stroll along the Split waterfront some time…

Discover the artistic treasure trove of a museum-city

Although its central part measures but 750 paces – as a certain earnest historian measured and recorded a few hundred years ago – Trogir is a superbly balanced small city built of stone, its history rich far beyond its size. Its significance is recognized by the inclusion of its historical core in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is not without reason that it is called a museum-city, bearing in mind the site it holds: the famous portal of Trogir cathedral, a work by Master Radovan dating from 1240; the Renaissance city loggia; the 1000-year-old monastery of St. Nicholas that houses a relief of Kairos – ancient god of the lucky moment, dating from the 4th century BC. In short, Trogir is a veritable treasure trove of art, as well as being a stage for young tenors from all over the world who come here every year to engage in competition.

The blue expanse and nature in complete harmony

Mother Nature has indeed been generous to Central Dalmatia, bequeathing to it a coastline and long pebble beaches shaded by fragrant pine trees and adorning its sea with the beauty of a string of islands of exquisite beauty. Immediately above the beaches of the famous Makarska Riviera is the Biokovo massif, still the habitat of the chamois. Here you can enjoy the rising of the summer sun, with a view that extends all the way to the outermost islands in the open waters of the Adriatic. The largest of the islands of the Split archipelago is Brač, known worldwide as the island of stone and wind. Island of stone, because the finest quality stone has been quarried here for centuries by the highly skilled and hard working local stone masons. It has been used to build not only the local cathedrals and other grand edifices, but also the White House in Washington, the New Court and Parliaments in Vienna and Budapest, as well as a number of other prestigious buildings. And the island of wind. Nowhere else in the Adriatic, surfers tell us, does such a magnificent landward breeze blow as in the channel between Brač and Hvar, particularly at the beach known as Zlatni rat, whose shape actually changes depending on the direction of wind and waves. Having been recently placed on the list of the ten most beautiful islands, sunny Hvar is, without competition, numbered among the most seductive of Dalmatian islands. Boasting the largest island town square on both sides of the Adriatic, one of the first communal theaters in Europe, built in long-gone 1612, the Arsenal, the famous “Tvrdalj” Palace of Petar Hektorović, and stone-paved, narrow streets, worn smooth and glistening in the sun, it is difficult to decide whether Hvar captivates more with the harmony of its history and art, or with the beauty of its nature, enhanced with the intoxicating fragrance of lavender.

CULTURAL HERITAGEApartments-kastela_com_002
Diocletian’s Palace (Split) – included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage
Old city nucleus (Trogir) – included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage
Ancient City of Salona (Solin) – capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia
Renaissance nucleus of the town of Hvar – St. Stephen’s Cathedral, town loggia with a tower and arsenal with a theatre dating from 1612.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sinj – the largest Marianic sanctuary in Dalmatia

CETINA RIVER – notable landscape, the 105 km long watercourse and the canyon (Omiš) will delight fans of rafting and canoeing
Biokovo Nature Park – the highest mountain along the Croatian coast, with rich flora and fauna
Zlatni rat – notable landscape
Islands of Ravnik, Donja Brela, Pakleni otoci (island of Hvar) – notable landscapes
Modra špilja and Medvidina špilja – caves on the island of Biševo – geomorphological natural phenomenon
Vranjača Cave (Mountain of Mosor) – geomorphologic natural phenomenon
CRVENO JEZERO (RED LAKE) and MODRO JEZERO (BLUE LAKE) (Imotski ) – geomorphologic natural phenomenon

Wine Roads, cycling trails, riding, rafting, para-gliding, hunting, fishing

Dalmatian “pašticada”, “luganige” sausages, “arambašići” – beef in cabbage (Sinj), flat-bread of Vis, pepper cookies from Hvar, “smutica” – wine with milk (island of Brač), Vugava and Plančić wines (island of Hvar)