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  • 23. Feb, 2021.

Diocletian's Palace

The city of Split owes the title of one of the most desirable tourist destinations to many things, but the old town holds a special place keeping it high on the list of worldly valuable monuments. 

When entering the city of Split, before reaching the Diocletian’s palace you will be led by a 57 m high St. Domnius cathedral, or as locals say: “Sveti Duje”. The cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is part of the Diocletian's Palace complex.

 

The Palace represents castrum, a hybrid creation uniting roman villa and military camp. The stone was brought from all around the Empire and it took ten years for building the Palace. 

The Palace has four entrances and most often people enter from the south side after enjoying the walk on the promenade or getting a coffee before they start exploring. This is a good route, as it can tell you the story about the Palace from the beginning…

 

Diocletian made the Palace for his retirement, but as he abdicated the throne earlier than planned, and moved in earlier, works on the Palace were never finished. His chambers were in the southern part of the palace, just above the cellars. This part was built without defensive towers, faced toward the sea with an emergency exit leading through the cellars.  The southern entrance is also called Porta Aenea or the Brass door. Passing through the cellars you will see many locals selling handmade souvenirs with symbols of Split such as the Palace, promenade, St. Domnius cathedral, and more. Continue walking and exit on the Peristyle square, an open space in front of which the Emperor showed himself to his vassals as a living god. The Emperor would exit on a small balcony in front of Vestibul, a circular anteroom of his chambers, for occasions of religious ceremony. 

Today, Peristyle is a place of many social gatherings, ancient & modern stories, dance, music, and fulfilling aimless wandering. Vestibul is one of the favorite places for klapa* singers and everyone having the opportunity to enjoy a capella singing.

 

On the eastern side of the square, and the Palace, the imperial mausoleum was built. Today, in that same place stands the Cathedral of St. Domnius. St. Domnius was the bishop and martyr of Solin and today he is celebrated as the patron saint of the city of Split and the Split-Makarska archdiocese. If you find yourself in Split on May 7 you have the opportunity to see a big ceremony and enjoy cultural manifestations throughout the day. 

    

    

 

Below the mausoleum is the crypt of St. Lucy. Saint Lucy is a Christian martyr who was beheaded in 303 after a long period of torture. According to tradition, St. Lucy's eyes were taken out, and this is why she is considered the protector of sight and the blind. She is also revered as the patroness of farmers, tailors, scribes, porters, and blacksmiths. Feast of St. Lucy is celebrated on December 13 when believers take the water from the crypt to save their sight.

Just in front of the cathedral, you will see a well-preserved sphinx, brought from Egipt with the rest of the material used for building the Palace. This sphinx has a special place in the cultural and everyday life of the city of Split serving for years as a backdrop for the famous opera Aida.

                                                       

3500-years old sphynx

 

Exit on the same side of the Palace is called the Silver gate. If you exit the Palace that way you will find the Split market, a place of many colors, fresh groceries, and typical local small talks. But, let’s get back to the Palace, and come back to the market before lunchtime :)

 

 East entrance to the Palace (the Golden gate)

 

So, before leaving the central part of the Palace pay attention to a tiny passage just opposite the Cathedral and the sphinx. This is where you will find Jupiter’s temple and the tiniest street in Split called “Let me pass”. The Temple will amaze you with many architectural details, but the most incredible is the ceiling. Coffered temple vault consisting of 40 stone slabs with different face expressions presents a real work of art. 

 

Now, let’s get back to the central part and head slowly to the north, or better said toward the Golden gate. The Golden gate was projected as the main entrance to the Palace. The gate had a double entrance with a defensive courtyard in the middle called a propugnaculum. Today you can often see random musicians enjoying its great acoustic. Like the other two doors, the Golden gate was also closed during the middle ages and the main entrance became the Iron gate on the western side of the Palace. Before you continue further take a look at the guard's hallway where stands little Church of St Martin from the 6th century. Although the church has been renovated, it is a world example of the preservation of the church interior. From this year St Martin’s church will be open for visitors.

 

Following the walls of the Palace toward the west, you will find today’s People square or Narodni trg and a bell tower with a 24 digit clock just in front of the Iron gate or Porta Ferrea. These are the best-preserved gate used for entering Diocletian's sulfur baths, but also to take punished legionnaires for stoning. 

 

From here you can continue to stroll down the charming little streets and explore the architecture of family palaces, old houses or continue to explore the rest of the old town outside the walls of the Palace.

 

Explore Split, it has so many things to offer...

 

And don’t forget to visit the market!

 

 

*klapa - Dalmatian a capella singing

 

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  • 20. Nov, 2020.

Hib - Island Vis superfood

Hib cake is a perfect example of Mediterranean cuisine dating back to the ancient times. Traditionally, it was prepared by peasant women from Vis Island and is a powerful energetic bar, which in modern world marketing can easily be branded as superfood. The hard working men of Vis Island – farmers and fishermen – could easily restore their strength with just a small slice of this cake.

The Greeks, who came to the Island of Vis in the 4th century B.C. were the first ones to introduce fig and fig leaves into the kitchen, by wrapping up the vegetables, meat and fish to keep these products fresh and preserved for longer periods of time.

The Hib cake is a perfect mixture of figs, aromatic herbs, almonds, homemade brandy, rosemary and fennel. Nowadays, it is made for Christmas when it is served with homemade rakija (brandy and grappa). Since the cake is being kept in rosemary and bay leaves, it gets a special aroma and can be consumed months after it was made.

         

 

To spicy up the Hib story, below you will find a historical description of a fig tree;

 

    The fig tree can be seen in some images of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve used fig leaves to cover their nudity after eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. According to the Greek mythology, Priapus is the God of fertility, vegetables, nature, livestock, fruit, beekeeping, genitals, masculinity and sexual desire. He became a popular figure in Roman erotic art and Latin literature. Some of the drawings and pictures show him covered with fig leafs only and one can only guess which parts they covered.
     
  In Greek mythology, Dionysus (Bacchus to the Romans) was the God of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy. He is often shown riding a leopard, wearing a leopard skin, or in a chariot drawn by panthers, and can also be recognized by the thyrsus he carries. Besides the grapevine and its wild barren alter-ego, the toxic ivy plant, both sacred to him, the fig was also his symbol.

 

 

Recipe:

  • Grind 1 kilogram of fresh figs, 5 leaves of bay, leaves from one rosemary sprig, one sprig of fennel and 1 deciliter of homemade (herbal) brandy.
  • Knead the dough from all grinded ingredients and form the small cakes which should be left to dry in the sun for approximately 10 days. After drying, let them ripen with bay and rosemary leaves to get some additional aroma.
  • Serve the cake cut in small slices with some homemade rakija (aromatic herbal brandy).

 

You can also try to make it at home to surprise your family members and guests during Christmas holidays.  Of course, with some herbal brandy as a special touch to it. It does sounds tasty, doesn’t it?

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  • 10. Feb, 2021.

Moreška

-exciting traditional dance where real swords still spark the night -

 

Moreška is a sword dance-drama that combines pantomime, spoken word, and dance, and takes the form of a dispute over a girl between two groups of dancers, one clad in red and the other in black, each led by a king. It is performed in the town of Korčula and is a symbol of Korčulan identity. Namely, virtually all Korčulans learn the art, while those playing the key characters have a special role in transmitting it to younger generations.

 

  

  

The word 'Moreška' means 'Moorish' and it is derived from the Spanish adjective 'Morisco' or the Italian 'Moresco'. It is still not known for sure if the dance came to the Adriatic directly from Spain through roving Spanish sailors, or from Sicily or Italy when Dalmatia formed part of the Venetian Republic. We are also uncertain if it was originally a Moorish dance or a Spanish one, inspired by the struggle of Spanish Christians against the Moors. However, we do know that it is one of the oldest traditional European dances still performed and that records exist of it being danced in Lerida in 1156 in a form portraying a Christian and National victory over the Moors and their expulsion from Aragon.

 

From the 12th century and particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries, the dance spread to many Mediterranean countries: to Italy, Corsica, Sicily, Malta, France and through Spanish trade, to Flanders, Germany, and even to England. It was subject to frequent local variations, in regard to plot, protagonists, and eventually also to form. In most of the Mediterranean, the Moreška survived until the end of the 18th century and in Italy and Dalmatia till the close of the 19th century.

 

The Moreška arrived in Korcula in the 16th century, at the same time as it did in Dubrovnik. There are, however, no written records of the Korčulan dance until the beginning of the 18th century. Up to the first World War, the Moreška was "fought" only every few years - protagonists were often wounded and replaced by 'seconds' during the dance - between 1918 and 1939 it was performed every year under the aegis of the Gymnastic Society of Korčula. Nowadays, it is an exclusive Society (and 'club') of its own and the Moreška is performed much more frequently for the benefit of the many tourists who visit the Island. Every family in Korčula is proud to have one of its members dance in the Moreška, especially one of the key roles, which demand considerable talent and stamina. When the Black or the White Kings "retire" they are allowed to keep their crowns and these become valued family possessions.

 

 

Today, Korčula is the only island where Moreška is still danced with real swords in its original War-Dance form and where it has enjoyed a proud and almost unbroken tradition for over four centuries, though the text, music, and pattern of the dance have been slightly altered and shortened (the contest used to last for two hours!) over the years.

 

The introduction to the dance is a short drama in blank verse which sets the scene - four characters recite the verses: the enemy or the Black King, his father, Otmanovic, (a kind of Balkan mediator), the Hero or the White King, and the Bula or Moslem maiden, who is a peace-maker as well as a heroine.


If you are on one of our tours you will have a chance to see the show in Korčula town summer cinema in high season (July, August) on Mondays and Thursdays.

 

 

photos by Korkyra Baroque Festival

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  • 19. Apr, 2020.

Pasticada - Authentic Dalmatian meal

Pašticada is a traditional Dalmatian dish served in special occasions like weddings, New Year’s Eve and other festivities or celebrations. We can call this moment in world’s history special occasion as well, right? #coronayear2020 

There are a lot of details in preparation and ingredients that make one Pašticada different from the other one. This is basically the dish that causes a lot of discussions and comparisons. Here are just some of them – Is it better to use wine or dessert wine Prošek?; Which fruit is better – figs or prunes? Which is the best ingredient to marinate the meat? The list of such questions is long. Every household in Dalmatia that makes Pašticada will say that theirs is the best one, but the truth is that each Pašticada is a bit different because of the spices and seasoning before and during cooking.

We believe that each Pašticada is very good, especially if it is prepared in the way our grandmothers used to do it. Dalmatian Pašticada is definitely the meal to be considered as a real pearl of Croatian gastronomy and also a maturity test for the ones who like to brag themselves about their gastronomic experience and are proud of their cooking skills.

 

Preparation:

Pierce the meat with a sharp pointed knife randomly and then prick it with garlic slivers and small pieces of pancetta (bacon). Put the beef into a large bowl, cover it with vinegar and leave it to sit for 2 or 3 days in the fridge. 

After removing the meat from vinegar, season it with salt and pepper. Put it into a roasting dish together with olive oil, lard, onions, celery root and carrots. Cover and roast for 45 minutes. Take it out of the oven and separate the meat from the sauce. 

In a large pot fry fine chopped onions, garlic, carrots and bacon. After about 6-8 minutes add meat, tomato puree, Prosek (sweet wine),red wine, a bit of sugar and vinegar ( feel free to use the one used to marinate the meat) and the vegetables(you can blend them) used when cooking roasting the meat in the oven. 

After about 2.5h of cooking, cut the meat into 1 cm thick slices and put it back into the sauce together with prunes. Cook until the meat becomes tender (let’s say another 45 min). Serve it with potato gnocchi. If you like, you can sprinkle it with some grated parmesan cheese when serving.

 

Ingredients:

1,5-2 kg beef round

5 garlic cloves, sliced

100 g pancetta (bacon), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Vinegar 

1 tablespoon lard

1/2 cup olive oil

3 large onions

2 carrots

1 celery root 

4 cloves

2 tablespoon tomato purée

100 ml dessert wine Prošek

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup red wine

3 bigger dried prunes

salt and pepper

 

I evo ga, (and here it is) 

Dobar tek! (Enjoy your meal) 

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