A bustling hub in Roman times, Split – which is built around an old Roman palace – is full of unique historic and artistic treasures. Split attractions include a number of museums and galleries that make the city a fascinating destination for art aficionados, historians and sightseers alike. Here's where to head.
The best museums in Split
Probably the most rewarding of Split's cultural attractions is Ivan Meštrović's own Gallery, a neo-classical villa built by the man himself in 1931. Not only does it display the range of work created by Croatia's most renowned sculptor - statues large and small, even portraits - and its influences (Classical, folk, Modernist), but it tells his remarkable story as he grew up through what would become Yugoslavia. Visits can be combined with entry to the nearby Kaštelet which houses his religious works.
This museum in the heart of the palace is mostly worth visiting for the 15th-century Gothic building itself rather than for the sundry paintings and weaponry within. You'll also find photographs, documents, maps and old papers but the permanent collection appeals more to historians than offer someone from the general public a rough idea how this fascinating port developed.
Founded in 1832 but since rehoused in a modern building by the Forum, this museum is arranged over three floors. At the top is a prehistoric section of ceramics and weaponry; below is a Roman and Liburnian floor, including a model of how the Forum would have looked; and the Middle Ages are displayed on the ground floor, with beautifully carved stone panels and bizarre local gravestones. A new exhibition of antiques opens in June 2014.
Standing near the Meštrović Gallery, and also converted - from a 16th-century summer house - by the famous sculptor himself, this is where you'll find the most satisfying of all his works, a series of 28 reliefs carved out of wood loosely illustrating the life of Christ. You'll notice touches of folk art, Modernism and Classicism as you gaze at what represents two decades of labour on the part of this 20th-century master. The building, too, has religious echoes.
The major cultural opening - in fact, re-opening - in town for many years, this attractive collection of art from the Adriatic region includes pieces by leading figures from modern times, most notably Vlaho Bukovac, as well as works as far back as the Renaissance. There is contemporary stuff too, paintings and photographs, to lend the venue kudos.