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Split: Caesars summer residence

Curiosities

Split  –  the town proud of its superlatives

The inhabitants of Split are highly proud of their town. For them  it is undoubtedly the best and most beautiful town in the world, or as they often say it as a joke: “Split is the most beautiful town on the Earth and its surroundings.”

The best sporting town in the world

After the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, Split was the town with the largest number of the medals in the world, considering the place the sportsmen come from! Furthermore, if we tried to calculate the statistic parameter of the success- fulness in sport for every town in the  world ( by dividing the number of its  inhabitants with the number of the world’s top sportsmen), Split would probably top the list. The town of some 200,000 inhabitants has produced many world-famous sportsmen, and we are going to mention some of them:

Basketball

Toni Kukoč – one of the best European players ever, Michael Jordan’s team-mate, with whom he won 3 NBA rings, playing in “Chicago Bulls”.

Dino Rađa – one of the best European centers, who played an important role in “Boston Celtics”. Together with Toni Kukoč he played against the legendary Dream Team ( Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley…) at the Olympic Games in Barcelona  in 1992, winnin the silver medal,of course.

Tennis

Goran Ivanišević – a Wimbledon winner, probably the best server in the tennis history. He set up Wimbledon record in the number of aces.

Handball

Ivano Balić – by the handball experts has been recently voted to be the best handball player  ever. Ivano Balić and Petar Metličić were members of the Croatian national team, which won both the World Championship and theOlympic gold.

Swimming

Đurđica Bjedov – the Olympic silver and gold medals.

Duje Draganja and Miloš Milošević – the Olympic medal winners

Veljko Rogošić – one of the best marathon swimmers in the world.

Waterpolo

Ratko  Rudić – is the most successful coach of all times.He worked with the national teams of Croatia, Italy  and the USA.

The waterpolo clubs from Split have been repeatedly the Europeans champions, and a large number of their players were the members of the Croatian national team, which won gold medals at the European Championship, thw World Championship and the Olympic Games.

Football

A large number of the footballers from Split were members of the Croatian national team, which won the bronze medal at the World Championship in France in 1998.

Combat Sports

Branko Cikatić – a winner of the prestigious tournment K- 1  in Japan

A curious fact

Although it snows very rarely in Split, possibly once in ten years, and there is no ice at all, the members of the Croatian national four-men team in bobsledding, coming from Split, succeeded in placing for the Winter Olympic Games.

How was it possile?  By training most of the time on land – on the athletic tartan track!

Split  – a town in the palace

The Diocletian’s Palace is, together with St.Dujam’s church-tower, one of the symbols of Split.It is one of the best preserved monuments of Roman architecture in the world. It was designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1979. The Palace is the only historic monument in the world to provide residence for a large number of people. The Palace was built between 295 and 305 A.D., as a combination of a summer residence and a Roman military camp, divided into four parts. It was built of stone from the nearby island of Brač, and the decorative details such as sphinxes, carved decorations and marble were brought from Egypt and Greece. The Palace was only a few miles far from the nearest ancient town of Salona ( today’s Solin). It was surrounded by defensive walls in order to protect the emperor Diocletian from the possible attacks of the surrounding barbarian tribes. There are four gates to enter the Palace:

  • Golden Gate  – porta aurea ( in the north)
  • Silver Gate  – porta argentea ( in the east )
  • Bronze (Brass) Gate – porta aenea  (in the south )
  • Iron Gate  – porta ferrea  ( in the west )

The Golden Gate was the main entrance. One of the two main streets led to Peristyle, the central square before the Emperor’s quarters.On the left side there was Emperor’s mausoleum (today’s St.Dujam’s cathedral), and on the right there were three temples: Jupiter’s, Kibela’s  and Venus’s. The Scottish archaeologist  Robert Adam considered Jupiter’s temple as absolutely one of the finest European monuments. There was also the Vestibule – a structure topped by a cupola (dome).

During the 6th century the inhabitants from the nearby Salona, in their flight before the barbarian tribes (Avars and Slavs) found refuge in the Palace, converting Emperor’s residence into a town. The newcomers changed the purpose of the Palace and used it mainly as a fortress. In the 7th cent. the Palace was transformed. Then the mausoleum of emperor Diocletian, who was one of the worst opposers to Christianity, was turned into a cathedral,dedicated to the Christian martyr Dujam, who was executed by the Emperor’s order. Today St.Dujam is the patron of the town. At the same time, the Diocletian’s Palace is also a home to many people who live there, just as in the 6th cent. when everything started.

St.Dujam’s cathedral –the oldest Christian cathedral in the world

St.Dujam’s cathedralis considered to be the oldest cathedral in the world.as its seat is the oldest monument- emperor Diocletian’s mausoleum, built before Christianity was acknowledged as the state religion. In the middle of the 7th cent. the mausoleum of the emperor, who was known as a violent persecutor of the Christians, became a cathedral, with the altars of St. Dujam and St. Staš, the martyrs executed at Salona (today’s Solin). Its inside had spherical form, with Diocletian’s sarcophagus, which was later ritually destroyed, The doorway at the entrance was carved in oak-wood, performed by Andrija Buvina from Split in the 13th cent. They represent an important monument of art of the Middle Ages.St.Dujam’s cathedral is a combination of different art styles – antique, the Midddle Ages,gothic, baroque and rococo.The church-tower by the cathedral (57m) is one of the most famous Croatian Middle Ages structures. The entrance to the tower is guarded by stone-carved lions and two groups of dignitaries, symbolically carrying the columns, and the well-preserved staircase leads to the very top, from which the whole of the Palace and the town of Split itself can be clearly seen

St.Dujam’s cathedral is also a vry important liturgical place, attractive both to numerous believers as well as to tourists, especially during St.Dujam’s Day, the Split patron’s day ( 7th May).

Split – the most attractive historic locality for living in the world

The nucleus of the Diocletian’s Palace in Split is the most desirable historic town site for living in the world, according to “The Financial Times”. Split tops the list of ten towns, whose town centres are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.The towns were evaluated by Simon Thurley, architecture historian and adviser of the British Government for historic heritage, after analysing 182 world localities under the UNESCO protection.

Here are ten most desirable historic localities for living, according to “The Financial Times”:

  1. Split, Croatia
  2. Stone Town in Zanzibar,  Tanzania
  3. Bruges, Belgium
  4. The old town of  Havana, Cuba
  5. Campeche,  Mexico
  6. Venice,  Italy
  7. Carcassone,  France
  8. Historic part of Bath,  Great Britain
  9. Medina in Marakesh,  Maroco
  10. Macao,  China

As it can be seen, the British expert was not very impressed by some even better-known destinations.

Touch  Grgur Ninski’s big toe!

The bishop Grgur Ninski (Gregory from Nin) is a symbol of  Croatian national pride, fighter for the mother tongue and script (lived in the 10th cent.). His bronze statue is the work the Croatian world-renowned artist Ivan Meštrović, who presented his work to the town of Split. Besides its monumentality that attracts visitors, they are even more attracted by the story about its big toe. All you need to do is just to touch it and make a wish…and it will come true !

Check by yourself !

A tiny breath of Egypt in Split

The spirit of ancient Egypt was brought to Split. The sphinx  at the Peristyle is the biggest of the five sphinxes preserved in the town, and at the same time it is the oldest artifact in the Palace.

Having crushed the rebellion in Egypt in 297 and 298 Diocletian came in touch with the Egyptian culture and was so fascinated by it that he brought 13 sphinxe of black granite to his Palace. At his time the sphinx at the Peristyle was 1800 years old, and now   it is 3500 years old. In ancient times a sphinx was a symbol of the divine character of Diocletian’s rule. As a response to Christianity, Diocletian proclaimed himself a reincarnation of the Roman god Jupiter.

Bačvice – World’s Championship at picigin

Origin

As far back as 1908, three years before football as a game was brought to this region, Some young people from Split studying in Prague brought to the town bathing-place Bačvice a very unusual game called water polo.As the sea at Bačvice is not deep, it is possible that picigin was developed from a peculiar way they started to play it on land. However it may be, picigin has been played at Bačvice since World War I, according to the rules that remained more or less unchanged.

History

Picigin was born in Split, and it is considered to be the sport most closely related to it. The cult play area for it is  the sandy beach at Bačvice. As it is very attractive both to participate or to watch, it has spread all along the Croatian coast, with specific local styles and variations. In Split the enthusiasts play picigin during the whole year, and not long ago there was installed a reflector , which makes night games possible. Besides the traditional game played on the New Year’s Day, in 2005 they introduced “World Championship at Picigin”. Up to 2008 only compulsory jumps were evaluated, but since 2008 the whole artistic impression of the team has been evaluated.At the end of July 2007 the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Croatia signed the official decision by which picigin is protected as unmaterial  cultural treasure of the country. It is pointed out that the rules of the game are to be defined by the members of the ecological association “Picigin Bačvice”.

The description and the rules

Picigin is a game in which there is no winner, therefore it is difficult to speak about any strict rules. The basic rules are simple: five players in the sea ten to twenty centimetres deep (if the sea is deeper, it slows the rhythm of the game and lessens its attractiveness). The players form a pentagon, in which the players are six-seven metres far from each other. The ball is hit by a palm in order to pass it to the other player,without falling into the sea.Picigin is not an inflexible game, its aim is relaxation more than competition.

The start is usually easy so as to warm up, and when the players get tired of such a rhythm, the real action starts. The ball is hit more severely so that  the co-players are forced to perform acrobatics and sprints The ball circles around and often do the players themselves change their positions as the game gets into full swing.

Inexperienced players may think that it happens unintentionally as a result of an inappropriate reaction. Good  players do not react in that way but they pass the ball deliberately to the player who is well-placed and ready to run and catch it in an attractive way. Sometimes they do not even perform predictable passings, either because of the momentary situation in the game or in order to make it more attractive.The ball is hit by palm, and it is desirable to use both hands equally during the game ( inexperienced players often make mistakes by using only “the stronger one ” ) .

Players

There are five players in a team. Two of them are anchor players (tehnicians ) and the others are runners. It is nothing unusual to form a team with players of different sex or age.

Ball (“Balun”)

The picigin ball is made from a tennis ball. It goes like this: you take a well-beaten tennis ball, then by knife you make a little cut on the outer cloth-made layer and peel it by pliers.The easiest way to remove the glue left is by rubbing the ball against a rough-surfaced wall, then it is ground with rough abrasive paper and then with a softer one. The rubber layer on the tennis ball is about five milimetres wide  and it should be reduced to one and a half milimetres. In order to do that evenly and precisely , before removing the next layer the ball is coated all over with white chalk. The procedure usually takes two afternoons. The ball is never machine-processed, as it is difficult to achieve a desirable form in that way. There is also a ball for the windy weather, which is a little heavier. This way of making a picigin ball was introduced by a legendary picigin player Emil Giosento at the beginning of the ’60s of the last century.

The playing location

It is played in shallow sea, on the sandy beach. Any other variation (stone, pebbles, etc.) are not appropriate because there is a possibility of being hurt. The best depth of the sea is up to the ankle because it allows easy running and at the same time it can soften the fall or landing.

Differences in the rules

As picigin is an amateur sport, there are different interpretations of the rules and, accordingly, different variations of the game, depending on the geographical locality.

Tradition

As it has already been mentioned, in the present form picigin has been played in Split since World War I, for more than 90 years. Enthusiasts play it all over the year, and not long ago there was installed a reflector at Bačvice to make night games possible. An old tradition is the game played on the New Year’s Day, and since 2005 there has been held “World Championship at Picigin”.

The Split “dišpet” (spite)

The Split spite is a very special character feature of the inhabitants of this town, which, in a way, can explain why they succeed in achieving things that are usually considered either difficult or even impossible to achieve. Thee best translation of the word may be “spite but without any negative connotation”.It is the spite that results in success and turns losers into winners. Perhaps it is the best explanation why there are so many successful sportsmen from Split. Just because someone told them once they would never succeed! However, it is not typical of sports only but of any other activity. If you want anyone in Split to succeed in anything, just tell him he is not good enough for it.

Then wait and you will see!

Generally about the town

Split is the largest town and port in the Middle Dalmatia, with its 200,000 inhabitants it is an economic, administrative and university centre and the second largest town in Croatia. It is located in the very middle of the Adriatic coast, which makes the town the main urban and traffic centre of Dalmatia, from which it is possible to reach numerous coastal resorts of Dalmatia as well as the other parts of Croatia or the world  – by land,by sea or by air. At the same time it is one of the most desirable tourist destinations for holidays due both to itsunique natural beauties and to its rich historic heritage. Owing to its mild Mediterranean climate, Split is the town in which you can enjoy a lot of sunshine, therefore the town is visited during the whole year. Split has been writing its long history since the 3rd cent.A.D., so it is no wonderthat offers an abundance of extraordinary interesting archeological and cultural monuments that are worth seeing,indeed. The most outstanding among them is the Diocletian’s Palace, within which the town itself  developed. Split is situated at the peninsula, on the western part of which there is park- hill Marjan, a favourite walk of the inhabitants of Split, very often called “the lungs of the town”.

What to visit?

  • the town beaches and promenades by the sea
  • the Diocletian’s Palace (the cellars, the Peristyle, the town gates, the Vestibule
  • St.Dujam’s cathedral
  • park-hill Marjan (the gazebo, St.Nicholas’ church)
  • the town museums and galleries (Archeological Museum, Ethnographic Museum, The Museum of the Croatian Arcgeological Monuments, Maritime Museum The Natual-science Museum, Meštrović Gallery, Arts Gallery, The Town Hall, Sports Museum )
  • The cultural manifestation Splitsko ljeto ( The Split Summer )
  • The Bačvice beach and the manifestations there
  • MedILS : Mediterranean Institute for Life Sciences
  • the Oceanographic Institute

Did you know?

  • The first official inhabitant of Split was the Roman emperor Diocletian, who was by origin from the Illyrian tribe, which lived on the territory of the present-day Dalmatia.
  • The oldest figure of any European king presented in the form of a Middle Ages stone sculpture is the one of the Croatian king Petar Krešimir IV and it can be seen in Jupiter’s temple, where it was brought in the 11th cent.
  • Agatha Christie spent her second honey-moon in Split and Dubrovnik.
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