Sitting at the top of Split
As I past the “Welcome to Split” sign, I started to worry – all the buildings were tall, concrete, and white; In a world – Ugly. Where was the Split that the books described? Where was the Split that the other folks I’d met were beaming with excitement over? I saw no ruins, I saw no charm. I only saw the unadorned monochrome buildings within sight. Where were the Orange roofs and the ancient ruins? But I needn’t worry – I only had to wait to exit the suburbs and be welcomed into the old town – into the Split I was anticipating.
And Split met my expectations. By the time the bus pulled into the bus station – my face was firmly pressed against the window, eyes wide, excitement boiling within. I love me an old town – and Split has a beautifully enclosed one. I love me an ancient church – and Split has a granddaddy of a church with the best view in town. I love me cobbled streets seeping with history – and Split has such a history. Split has everything this girl needs in a place.
Split is a city built around a palace that was built around a man. Split encompasses the strength of a people and shines of the protection of a people.
The city is small enough to manage on foot. The old city can be roamed sans map and sans plan. Put one foot in front of the other and your eyes will be met with spectacle and filled with curiosity. Mine sure were. All the buildings are appealing and the cobblestone that leads me through bears the history of the city – it tumbles through my mind.
I look up and see the Diocletian’s Palace standing tall – White marble rising aloft with open pillared windows on all four sides. I want to climb to the top. I want the city-wide view that it permits. I point my feet in that general direction and know I’ll arrive soon.
I arrive through an underground tunnel cave with stores built into the stone. I go up some stairs and into the courtyard in front of the Church. Tourists and Locals alike sit in the square on the marble stairs, necks craned back, eyes staring in wonder; The Diocletian’s Palace stands front and centre. The Roman influence on the Palace is obvious – The columns all in a row protecting the church, the columns built into the façade of the church, and the costumed Roman soldier with chest bare and pike in hand waving tourists to take their photo with him.
I know I need to do one thing and one thing only in Split – climb to the top. So up I go. Although I always opt for the stairs, I note there is no alternative. The stairs are greening metal which are pierced into the marble walls of the church and the other side floating in the open centre of the spire. I look up and I see them spiraling upwards. I’ve got a long way to go. I lean towards the wall to ease my stomach that is creeping towards my throat when I think of falling into the centre. Oddly enough, I have no fears of falling out the large, open windows on all 4 sides.
I finally arrive at the top to a cool breeze and a view of the Split I was looking for. I can see the walls of the Palace encompassing the city and the people weaving their way down the small lanes. Carts block the way, and people cram into doorframes to escape being run-over. The commotion below is intriguing. Human activity is intriguing. From up here, I can watch it all, without having anybody realizing I am staring.
To the front is the Sea, to the right is the mountains, and behind and to my left the city spreads its housing tendrils. I see the hideous grey apartment buildings that plagued my view upon entering the city and give thanks they are far away from this world of ancient beauty I am in now.
I sit within one of the windows on the marble letting the breeze gust strongly by and watching the other tourists fight for a perfect photo. I wait and reflect on being here; Being in the Diocletian’s Palace; Being in Split; Being in Croatia. I am happy here. For the most part I am always happy with a new destination, but I realize that Croatia is something special, and realize that many a traveller before me has come to this realization.