Next thing on the list, was Split. A friend of ours had been there before. His impression was that it was the sort of place you went through, on your way to other places. A quick trip there might give us a good impression, we thought. We needed to get some more stuff for our Nepal trip as well, and found the location of an Intersport store. I entered what I hoped was the right address into our GPS, but it took us into Split downtown, miles away from our goal. Then it lost the signal, just when we wanted to get the hell out. Cursed thing.
We agreed with our friend's impression of Split, too. It's a moderately big city, with a lot of industry, shopping malls, and concrete high-rise apartments. One if the industries was a big limestone quarry and concrete mill just down the road from us, so no guesses where all the concrete came from.
Determined to see Split old town, we went back in the next day regardless, and found a parking spot in the labyrinthine streets nearby. Surprisingly, Split old town wasn't really an old town. Certainly not like Trogir, for example. It was quite small, and was originally a palace for the Roman emperor Diocletian. Not much of the original structure was left.
I was a bit loose-endish about the whole thing, until A suggested we get on a walk-around tour. What a waste of time, I grumped. It ended up being well worth it and we learned a whole bunch of things. Including why I shouldn't be so grumpy.
Diocletian reigned about 300AD. He rose from a poor family to become emperor, which was a good effort, but at some point it all went to his head. By the end, he thought he was a divinity. He also loved Egypt, and had columns and statuary imported as part of the build, including a few sphinxes. He probably did a whole bunch of good things too but, as Cesar said (via Shakespeare) "the evil that men do lives after them, whilst the good is oft interred with their bones".
The palace interior had changed so much since his death, that its original form was impossible for us to see. There were a few original things like a small temple to Zeus still intact, but a lot had been modified or brutally destroyed over the millenia. Even many of the five-thousand-year-old sphinxes had been smashed up or beheaded. The cellars below his palace became filled its sewerage and all images of him were destroyed.