Above: Head of Diocletian, in the Villa Doria Pamphili, Rome
Most of the apartments exist as foundations or chest-high walls only, visible amongst the houses and cafes between the sea-front and the open area giving onto the Mausoleum. They have several interesting features:
- because the apartments gave onto what is now the promenade, and was in Antiquity surely the Emperor's private dock, they would have been breezy, quieter than the rest of the city, and comparatively free of smells.
Above: Fischer von Erlach's reconstruction of Split, from his Entwuerff einer historischen Architektur, Vienna 1721, Tafel X
- the breezes could have been enjoyed along the great gallery, with a colonnaded loggia in the centre, which makes up the seaward side of the city:
Above: The sea facade from Robert Adam's Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian, 1764; a photograph of the same facade in 1987; and Cassas' etching from Lavallee's Voyage pittoresque et historique de l'Istrie et de la Dalmatie, of 1802
In some places, the loggia is hard to see, because it has been blocked up and re-assigned to later housing:
In others, we can visit it, and have a drink in one of the cafes which now occupy it, and look out to sea as Diocletian must have done when he had finished cabbaging for the day:
The layout of the palace has gradually come to light during the course of our century - layout not full elevation. This is because the undercrofts or basements have gradually been cleared of centuries of detritus, and these offer a general guide to the placement of walls above them - walls which once supported the actual living quarters but which, in the majority of instances, have gone or been built around (Marasovic 1972; McNally 1979).
These rooms are of "interesting" shapes, one with an apsed east end like an Early Christian basilica, others central-plan on some variation of the circle, with columns for decoration - and these were naturally covered with a dome:
It is not too farfetched to draw a comparison for the room shapes here with the plan of Diocletian's Baths in Rome, see in Sebastiano Serlio's Libro terzo di architettura of 1562:
If the domes are now bare brick (where they have not collapsed), we must imagine them covered with painted stucco, or even mosaics:
Also interesting are the various undercrofts to the palace itself, which presumably provided "back stairs" movement areas for the hordes of servants. Some of these lead directly to the "sea gate" - presumably private to the Emperor and his entourage and not - as is the case today - simply a convenient short-cut from inside the city to the harbour:
From here you may go to any of the following screens:
The Introductory Page; The Colonnaded Streets; Comparisons with Split's Architecture; Diocletian as Builder; The Great Hall & Peristyle Complex; The Emperor's Mausoleum; Is Split palace or chateau?; The Temple; The Walls & Gates A short description of the Tetrarchy; The Bibliography; My Biography; The technology I've used; A Short Research Paper.