Salona, or Solin, was an administrative hub of Ancient Rome, the capital of Dalmatia and is believed to have been the birthplace of the Emperor Diocletian, under whom it flourished. An important city, Salona is well preserved and well signed. Access is along the top of the defensive wall giving a superb overview of the ruins.
Salona was first mentioned as an Illyrian town in 119 BC and it’s thought that it already had walls by then. The Romans seized the site in 78 BC and under the rule of Augustus, it became the administrative headquarters of the empire’s Dalmatian province. When Emperor Diocletian built his palace in Split at the end of the 3rd century AD, it was the proximity to Salona that attracted him.
Despite the walls, the attacks by Avars and Slavs became too much and in the 7th century, the population moved to the safety of the Palace of Diocletian in Split. Outside the entrance is an early cathedral. Its development over the years makes Salona a fascinating puzzle.
While many of Salona’s ancient treasures are now on display in Split’s Archaeological Museum, there’s a surprising amount in situ. Numerous sarcophagi are scattered about the area known as Manastirine, between the car park and the museum. This was a burial place for Christian martyrs prior to the decriminalisation of Christianity and includes the substantial remains of an early basilica.
Part of the Salona site can be seen from the main road north out of Split to the airport. Salona retains all the main buildings to be expected of such a site. Apart from the remains of the city wall, there are several basilicas, an amphitheatre, entry gates, the forum, the theatre and baths. Salona has a number of very early churches, including an early baptistery built by Bishop Honorius in the 6th century.
Getting to Salona
Salona is easily accessible on Split city bus 1 (single/return 13/22KN), which goes all the way to the parking lot every half-hour, departing from Trg Gaje Bulata.