The fact that I have shared three posts in three weeks on this Croatian seaside town hints that I am seriously Hooked on Split.
In previous posts I’ve explored the beaches and Diocletian’s Palace, but on this tour I’ve let myself off the Hook to take in the sights from the small boat port of Matejuška to Narodni Trg the People’s Square.
The Hook and Neighbourhood.
The hook is a monument to farewell fishermen as they go to sea, or so the Visit Split blog site says, but I imagine it is used as a prop in many a visitor’s photograph. Across the street on Trumbićiva Obala is Baracuda (there are two shops but I mean the one around the corner furthest from the Riva), where we suggest hiring bikes to Explore the beaches of Split and Marjan Park.
Matejuška is the name of this area as well as the small boat harbour at the western end of the Riva, the promenade where tourists and locals both check out the action and each other. The fishing boats leave from this port and it’s a busy place at night when everyone congregates for drinks or a cheap home style meal at Buffet Fife.
Buffet Fife – Food to Love
Their Calamari and Chips could easily feed two people especially with the addition of a salad and was delicious. The other dish is a traditional Dalmatian meal called Pasticada, where beef is marinated in vinegar, cooked in red wine and served with gnocchi.
It is a friendly kind of place where you will most likely be asked to share a table, unless your party can fill all the places. Look for a traditional stone house with tables spilling onto front and side terraces.
Our Airbnb host gave us several eating suggestions but Fife was his choice for an inexpensive filling meal after a big day or before a night out.
From here we’ll make our way slowly east toward the Diocletian’s Palace.
Prokurative or Republic (Trg) Square.
First stop on the left is St. Mark’s Square…
Split gained this replica when a Venetian architect living in Split assauged his homesickness by building a St. Mark’s look alike. There are a couple of noteworthy things about this square, the first being that the carved reliefs under the left upper floor windows are not repeated on the right – notice the carved Lions of Venice above the windows. Secondly, a beautiful 4 tiered fountain by Italian sculptor Luigi Ceccona at the entrance to the square was purposely destroyed in 1947. I guess it was an understandable reaction to the constant reminder of fascism and occupation, but it was a gorgeous fountain. Strangely some of the carved statue heads are preserved in the Split City Museum.
It is an expansive square, the majority of which is quite bare, but it does get used for festivals and in summer will be a sea of tables and chairs. Imagine the ocean views from the theatre at the end of the square.
The elaborate fountain has been replaced by this minimalist creation. Can you see it?
This French General, friend and aide to Napoleon, was in control of Dalmatia for five years in the early 1800’s. Under his guidance the city had a face-lift. The Venetian walls were torn down, electricity introduced and improvements made to the Riva and road system. It was as if the French needed to beautify their environment.
This wide pedestrianised shopping street, connects the Riva to Trg Gaje Bulata and the Croatian National Theatre. General Marmont was eventually considered a traitor to Napoleon and was unpopular in France, but the people of Split must have appreciated his initiatives because their favourite street is named after him.
The Pirja Fountain on Marmontova.
It’s one of the weirder art installations I’ve seen.
This public Spa bath building (Sulphur Springs) was built by local architect Kamilo Tončić. I wonder what it looks like within?
Midway on the street is the fish market known as Marmontova’s belly button. I’ve heard that the nearby sulphur springs discourage flies from congregating at the market. I found this snippet interesting, because as we walked along the Riva we gasped at the smell which we attributed to discharge from the market, but in retrospect was most likely the odour from the sulphur springs.
The Croatian National Theatre (1893) is considered one of the most impressive theatres in the Mediterranean offering performances from Ballet and Croatian Literature to theatrical plays, festivals and orchestras. I loved this luminous yellow building and can imagine a crowd of theatre goers congregating outside.
Address: No. 1 Trg Gaje Bulata, Split
Look out for Varoš – Split’s oldest pharmacy (1856) which holds timber cabinets from the Renaissance.
Two passageways (one from the fish market) connect Marmontova with Procurative.
Marmontova is where you’ll find brand label shops.
I’ve gone a little off course here but I believe the diversion is worth it. Follow these directions from the theatre to supposedly the best ice-cream in Split. You will probably have to line up and the flavours are written in Croatian, but the friendly staff offer a taste if they can’t translate. They say that this shop (which also sells freshly baked cakes) opened by Polish expat Luka Klimczak in 2014, turned the local gelato scene on it’s head. Marty, who spent two solid months gelato tasting through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro was expecting more of a Wow factor, but I was suitably impressed. Our choices were coconut and cookies and what we think was rum and raisin.
One scoop – 8 kuna. Two Scoops – 15 kuna.
Split’s own cake incorporates dried figs, raisins and walnuts in a light whipped egg white cake batter, layered with vanilla cream. We tried Splitska Torte at Creme de la Creme and it was lovely. Ask your host for his suggestion for the best Torte in town.
Palace Milesi in Fruit Square
Today, the official name of the square that houses Palace Milesi – Trg Braće Radić (Square of the Radić brothers, famous Croatian Politicians) – is overlooked in favour of Fruit Square (a left-over from a time when village ladies sold their fruit here). This square is full of history.
The Milesi Family were Split residents of Italian Heritage, their home having a 17th Century Baroque Facade, in front of which stands the statue of philosopher and intellectual Marko Marulić, sculpted by Ivan Meštrović, of Bishop Gregory of Nin sculpture fame (the huge one outside the Golden Gate of Diocletians Palace).
15th Century Octagonal Venetian Tower in Fruit Square. I love the crenellated crown.
Narodni Trg or People’s Square.
Two minutes north of Fruit Square is Narodni Trg. or People’s Square, a favourite meeting place outside of the Diocletian’s Palace walls. I wish we had more time here to enjoy a wine or a coffee and soak up the atmosphere.
15th Century Town Hall. This is my favourite building in Split. The logia on the ground floor and gothic windows make this simple architecture perfect in my opinion.
And so ends our Hooked on Split Tour. At the clock tower in the back right hand corner of People’s Square, the Iron Gate connects to Diocletian’s Palace.
We visited Split as part of our Ten Weeks in Europe 2015 trip.
Thanks for visiting, I really appreciate it and would love you to add your travel post to the link below for Nancie’s Travel Photo Thursday which I co-host with Ruth from Tanama Tales and Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations.