Split, Croatia

Split is the second-largest city of Croatia and the largest city of the region of Dalmatia, with about 300,000 people living in its urban area.

It lies on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea and is spread over a central peninsula and its surroundings.

An intraregional transport hub and popular tourist destination, the city is linked to the Adriatic islands and Italy.

History of Split

Home to Diocletian’s Palace, built for the Roman emperor in AD 305, the city was founded as the Greek colony of Aspálathos in the 3rd or 2nd century BC.

It became a prominent settlement around 650 when it succeeded the ancient capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia, Salona. After the sack of Salona by the Avars and Slavs, the fortified Palace of Diocletian was settled by Roman refugees. Split became a Byzantine city.

Diocletian's Palace
Diocletian’s Palace

Later it drifted into the sphere of the Republic of Venice and the Kingdom of Croatia, with the Byzantines retaining nominal suzerainty.

Split Waterfront
Split Waterfront

For much of the High and Late Middle Ages, Split enjoyed autonomy as a free city of the Dalmatian city-states, caught in the middle of a struggle between Venice and the Croatian-Hungarian Kingdom for control over the Dalmatian cities.

Venice eventually prevailed and during the early modern period Split remained a Venetian city, a heavily fortified outpost surrounded by Ottoman territory.

In 1805, it became part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy and in 1806 it was included in the French Empire.

After being occupied in 1813, it was eventually granted to the Austrian Empire following the Congress of Vienna, where the city remained a part of the Austrian Kingdom of Dalmatia until the fall of Austria-Hungary in 1918 and the formation of Yugoslavia.

In World War II, the city was annexed by Italy, then liberated by the Partisans after the Italian capitulation in 1943.

It was then re-occupied by Germany, which granted it to its puppet Independent State of Croatia. The city was liberated again by the Partisans in 1944, and was included in the post-war Socialist Yugoslavia, as part of its republic of Croatia.

In 1991, Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia amid the Croatian War of Independence.


Picigin is traditional ball game from Split, Croatia that is played on the beach. It is an amateur sport played in shallow water consisting of players keeping a small ball from touching the water.

People playing Picigin on a Beach
People playing Picigin on a Beach

Picigin originated on the sandy beach of Bačvice in Split. It was first played in 1908 by a group of Croatian students from Prague who were finding it difficult to play the game of water polo in the shallow water. Instead, they began playing a different game which would come to be known as picigin.

Omiš, Dalmatia region of Croatia
Omiš, Dalmatia region of Croatia

Visiting Split

is a fairly safe city and the streets of the old town are usually full of people, day and night. Street violence is rare and there’s no particular problem with pickpocketing.

Split is also a great place for basing oneself for many different day trips around the southern Croatian coast. There are dozens of amazing islands, national parks, and surrounding cities that make perfect day trips from Split.


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