Diocletian’s Palace Architecture reflects the main features of both Hellenistic and Roman architecture. Like many of his predecessors, Emperor Diocletian was a passionate builder and employed top architects from the area of the Hellenized East (Syria, Egypt) to supervise the implementation of the project. The arcuated lintel above the Prothiron of the Peristyle’s main courtyard is the finest example of extensive architectural influences of Asia Minor school in Palace’s design.
The ancient Agora: The Peristyle, with its surrounding imposing colonnade, the Prothiron highlighted by the Syrian arcuated lintel, and an ancient Egyptian black granite Sphinx.
How Was Diocletian’s Palace in Split Built? The Builders and the Architects
Joined forces of both hundreds of foreign highly-skilled commissioned workers and local manufacturers of Brač and Salona were able to complete the constructions within 10 years from 295-305 AD., enabling Diocletian to move in on May 1st 305 AD.
Diocletian’s Palace Architecture: The Materials Used
The base materials used were local high quality limestone from the Rasoha, Stražišće and Plate quarries of Brač island and Seget quarries of Sutilije. Roman brick tegula arrived from the manufactures of Salona, while tuff was extracted from the local rivers.
The decorative Materials were imported and included a wide variety of polychromic marbles, granites and limestones coming from all over the Empire.
Diocletian’s Palace Architecture: The Main Architectural Features
|TYPOLOGY/CATEGORY||An Imperial Residential Villa of combined features: Roman Imperial Palace, Roman Castrum, Greco-Roman Town.|
|LOCATION||Ancient Aspalathos of the Roman Province of Dalmatia: modern day Split, Central Dalmatia Croatia|
|ERA||Late Antiquity: late 3rd-early 4th century AD. Constructed between 295-305 AD|
|TOTAL AREA||38,000 m2|
|ARCHITECTS||Anepigraphic Monument Tradition points OUT Filotas and Zotikos as main architects|
|MATERIALS||Base materials: limestone from THE quarries of Rasoha, Stražišće and Plate ON Brač island and Seget quarries of Sutilije. Roman brick tegula manufactured in Salona, tuff from the local rivers. Decorative materials: White Prokonessian marble, Greek marble from mount Pentelikon, Greek green Cipollino, grey Porphyry, Lapis Lacedaemonius from Sparta, Egyptian black Porphyry, Turkish Pavonazzetto, Verde Antico from Thessalia, Oniks (Egyptian alabaster)|
|UNESCO||Date of inscription: 1979 Criteria met: nr. 2,3,4.|
|MAIN STREETS||Cardo (north-south) and Decumanus (east-west)|
|MAIN PARTS||Southern: Imperial, residential and cult area Northern: logistics area|
|TEMPLES||Temple of Jupiter (the Mausoleum), The Small Temple, Temple of Venera, Temple of Cybele|
|ENTRANCES||Northern Entrance: The Golden Gate (Porta Aurea) Southern Entrance: The Bronze Gate (Porta Aenea) Eastern Entrance: The Silver Gate (Porta Argentea) Wester Entrance: The Iron Gate (Porta Ferrea)|
|OTHER MAIN SITES||The Cathedral of St. Dujam (DOMNIUS), the Cathedral’s Bell Tower, the Vestibule, the Substructures (Basements, CELLARS)|
Watch this short video and check out what our guests say about their WALKING TOUR experience with APODOS:
Diocletian’s Palace Architecture: The Structure and the Layout
Emperor Diocletian’s Palace in Split was built as an imperfect trapezium structure of approximately 38,000 m2 (nearly 4 hectares of total area). The length of the western and eastern parts exceeds 200 m, while the northern and southern parts are approximately 180 m in length. As for the height of the walls, these are 25 m high.
The upper floor of the southern façade rose above the recently discovered harbor complex, and was open with a monumental porch facing the sea and creating the so called Cryptoportico: a kind of an internal private promenade-like balcony.
The Imperial private residences with both summer and winter rooms were built on either sides of the dining area called the Triclinium. Halls with grand arched windows were arranged along the walls of all other sides: eastern, northern, and western.
This Article was first published on the APODOS Travel Agency Blog. The Article is intellectual property of the APODOS Travel Agency Blog and is protected according to the relevant provisions of the Croatian law, the European law, and the international conventions. Content may not be copied, reproduced, transmitted, distributed, downloaded, or transferred in any form or by any means without APODOS Travel Agency Blog prior written consent. Copyright infringement is a violation of law subject to criminal and civil penalties.
The Peristyle located right at the cross-section of the Palace, where two main streets -Cardo and Decumanus- met, accommodated the Temenos with its ancient shrines and temples.
The Uniqueness of Diocletian’s Palace Architecture
The uniqueness of Diocletian’s Palace architecture lies in the fact that it is indeed, a combination of three different elements:
1.The Palace is a residential villa aimed for a Roman Emperor to spend his retirement years.
2.It’s a fortified edifice with initially 16 alternating square and octagonal watchtowers surrounding and protecting it from all sides. 4 large watchtowers were designed at each corner, complemented with smaller towers stretching along the walls.
3.The Palace of Emperor Diocletian was built as a proper miniature of a typical Greco-Roman town.
This typical layout included two main 12 meter-wide, colonnaded streets, which divided the whole Palace into 4 perfect fours. But most importantly, thanks to this arrangement a clear separation between the southern part and the northern part of the Palace was achieved.
With the southern being the Imperial residential part, and the northern the one which accommodated all the logistics of the Palace including: servants, guards, and the stationing military units.
Diocletian’s Palace Architecture: The Two Main Ancient Streets Cardo and Decumanus
Cardo street was running from north to south and was linking the Palace’s main and most representative entrance: The Porta Praetoria (later called Porta Aurea meaning the Golden Gate: a renaissance term still in use today. The name in Croatian is Zlatna Vrata) with the most modest entrance called the Porta Aenea, meaning the Bronze Gate.
Decumanus ancient street was running from east to west. In this way the Eastern Porta Argentea or Porta Orientalis later called the Silver Gate, was directly connected to the and Western Porta Ferrea: The Iron Gate.
During the 6th century AD, a church dedicated to St. Martin was built in the former look- out corridor of the Golden Gate, while the same adaptation was implemented to the Iron Gate where the church of St. Theodore, with the oldest pre-Romanesque bell tower in Dalmatia was arranged.
Recent findings confirm the thesis that at the point where the two main roads met a tetrakionion/ tetrapylon structure existed.
Diocletian’s Palace Architecture: The Peristyle | The Main Courtyard
At the cross-section was the Peristyle: the grand opened courtyard. From the greek Peristilion (Περιστύλιον) meaning ”surrounded by columns”. Indeed, the impressive colonnade surrounding the ancient agora was composed of granite and marble columns, topped with Corinthian style capitols. The usage of wide variety of materials created a result of polychromy.
Diocletian’s Palace Architecture: The Concept of Ancient Temenos
In compliance with the classical greek traditions, the most important part of the Peristyle was the Temenos (greek Τέμενος), which functioned as Ieron (Ιερόν). It was the sacred space where the shrines and the temples were located.
The entrance to the Temenos was accentuated by 4 massive red granite columns. The entire architectural approach reflects the complexity of the various ancient cults that were part of everyday life of this late antiquity Roman palace.
Want to learn more about Diocletian’s Palace in Split?
Join us on our TOP-RATED Split Walking Tour!
Want to explore Split beyond Diocletian’s Palace?
There’s no better way to do it than taking our Open-Top Sightseeing Bus
Looking for the best Day-Tours from Split?
Join us for a truly unforgettable experience – Plitvice Lakes Tour from Split!The Ultimate Tour to do from Split- Plitvice Lakes National Park
Diocletian’s Palace in Split- A Complete Travel Guide