Salona in Ruins, While Trogir Lives On

Salona in Ruins, While Trogir Lives On

Our ship was still docked in Split Harbour, Croatia. And having visited Diocletian’s Palace at Split in the morning, we jumped on a bus and headed for two more destinations in the afternoon. The first was to the ruins of the ancient city of Salona, just a few kms north of Split.

I mentioned the significance of Salona in a previous blog, “Split and The Retired Emperor”. However, while we were at Salona I was not fully aware of its links to Diocletian and his palace.

Mountain range to the north of Salona (and Solin), with our tour bus adorning the foreground

Salona “peaked” in size and importance while Diocletian was Emperor. Perhaps developing Salona was part of his retirement plan? But it was largely destroyed by invaders in the 6th and 7th centuries AD. Refugees from Salona settled inside the remains of Diocletian’s Palace.


The ancient city of Salona has been only partially excavated to date, because the modern city of Solin is built over sections of it and understandably impedes archaeological “digs” in those areas. Of course, cost is also a factor in the “rediscovery” project.

With limited time to inspect Salona’s ruins, we only saw a small part of what has been uncovered. Here is some of what we saw.

Christian Basilica ruins – entrance to right, modern City of Solin in background, empty sarcophagi everywhere
Basilica ruins from another angle – entrance behind, 19th Century Tusculum in background
Wall of Tusculum, showing use of relics as building materials and adornments

The Tusculum was built as the headquarters for archaeological teams that were undertaking excavations of Salona. It is now a museum, but was not open on the day we were there.

More ruins, with suburbs of Solin in background – note the small, partially covered, aqueduct in the foreground


Fortunately we were able to spend more time in the “living city” of Trogir (pronounced by our guide – “Trog” as in frog, “ir” as in ear) which was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1997. It occupies a small island just 30 kms west of Split and is linked to the Croatian mainland by a short bridge.

Trogir’s harbour (to the left) and small channel (to right, dividing island from mainland), Island of Ciovo in background – taken from Croatian mainland

Greek colonists founded Tragurian (later Trogir) at this site in the 3rd Century BC and developed it into a major trading port. The rise of the city of Salona diminished Trogir’s importance in the area. However, today it is known as one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe with 2300 years of continuous urban tradition (Wikipedia).

The 13th century Cathedral of St Lawrence makes a notable cultural contribution to the city of Trogir.

First sighting of the Cathedral’s Bell Tower as we entered the city
Central nave and altar, Cathedral of St Lawrence
Sarcophagus of St John, Bishop of Ursini died 1111 AD – Hrvoje our guide, in red shirt, explaining the various features of the Cathedral. Note the statues and reliefs adorning this apse.
Carved wooden choir stalls
Ornate frame (title of paining unknown to me – do you know it?)
Heading towards Town Hall Square – Cathedral on left, Statue of St Lawrence and Town Clock Tower straight ahead

This was Croatia’s National Day, 8th October, and the people of Trogir were celebrating. Naturally the Croatian flag was proudly displayed at every vantage point.

Town Hall building
People celebrating next to the clock tower and in the square
Buskers at the southern gate
Trogir’s southern esplanade to the left, channel between Island of Trogir and Island of Ciovo, with bridge linking them in the background
Sightseeing along the southern esplanade – not sure what the white building is. Can anyone tell me? Bell tower and old church to left, which I think has been converted to a restaurant???

We also had the opportunity to wander through the narrow alleyways of Trogir.


To round off our visit to Trogir and a rather long tiring day, Maggie and I enjoyed a cold Croatian beer (or 3) in a small local pub. Yeah, that made us feel better.


Split Harbour, from MV Aegean Odyssey

Soon after we arrived back at Split harbour, our ship’s captain wasted no time in moving us towards another exciting adventure.

Please join us next time when we visit the most famous, impregnable, magnificently exotic, endless superlatives, seaside walled city of Dubrovnik.
Is it really that good?

  • Heidi Pauly
    Posted at 13:04h, 20 December Reply

    Lovely photography Alistair, beautiful & historic part of the world. Thanks for sharing, Heidi

  • daryl Harrison
    Posted at 20:20h, 21 December Reply

    Very nice photos and summary

  • Peter Stanton
    Posted at 15:16h, 23 December Reply

    WONDERFUL photos and your commentary makes the whole thing “zing”…thanks again AD

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