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Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

HEN Em­peror Dio­cle­tian de­cided to re­tire from rul­ing the Ro­man Em­pire, he couldn’t find a be­fit­ting rest home. Af­ter shop­ping around, he de­cided to build his own – and so Split was born.

Now, more than 1,700 years later, his be­spoke walled palace is a hive of ac­tiv­ity. Tourists and lo­cals alike wan­der around his for­mer res­i­dence, en­joy­ing the pave­ment cafés, tiny bars and bou­tiques dot­ted among pre-Chris­tian sphinxes and an­cient mar­ble ed­i­fices.

Croa­tia is cur­rently rid­ing a wave of pop­u­lar­ity thanks to the film­ing of hit se­ries Game of Thrones, with sev­eral lo­ca­tions within the UN­ESCO World Her­itage site fea­tur­ing in the show.

Pass­ing through Dio­cle­tian’s Palace, it’s clear to see the im­pact the show has had on tourism here – shops are filled with mer­chan­dise from the fan­tasy saga, and a num­ber of the walk­ing tours fea­ture film­ing lo­ca­tions.

If tourists flock to catch a glimpse of the set­tings they’ve spot­ted on screen, they’ll likely stay for the beau­ti­ful sights, food and drink on of­fer.

In­side the palace walls, there is an abun­dance of restau­rants of­fer­ing ev­ery­thing from a sit-down meal, to take­away piz­zas. Al­though the euro is read­ily ac­cepted, tourists get a much bet­ter deal if they use the lo­cal kuna.

And while Split is great for the bud­get­con­scious travel you don’t need to penny pinch – a two-course meal with a bot­tle wine costs as lit­tle as £20-per-head.

Maz­z­goon, a fam­ily run eatery si­t­u­ated in the heart of the palace, dishes up lo­cally sourced food in tra­di­tional sur­round­ings and de­spite its 16th-cen­tury set­ting, the menu is firmly in the mod­ern day.

While the palace is def­i­nitely the hub of Split, not tak­ing a stroll out­side of its walls would be an in­jus­tice.

The Riva Prom­e­nade is lined with trendy bars and the more tra­di­tional cafés. Lo­cals meet up along the prom and spend hours tak­ing in the breath­tak­ing view with a drink or snack.

Split’s forested park, Mar­jan Hill, is just a short stroll from the wa­ter­front Riva and sun wor­ship­pers have their choice of beau­ti­ful sandy beaches – the most pop­u­lar be­ing Bacvice.

Al­though the city is steeped in his­tory, just a stone’s throw from the an­cient palace is the Luxe Ho­tel, which of­fers the per­fect mod­ern re­treat to rest your head af­ter a day spent ex­plor­ing.

Booked as part of a pack­age deal with Pres­tige Hol­i­days, the ho­tel is an easy 30-minute trans­fer from the air­port. It has a stylish in­te­rior and lux­ury ameni­ties – ac­co­mo­da­tion comes with a multi-room mu­sic sys­tem and a handy smart­phone which guests are free to take out and about on their trav­els.

Break­fast, served in the bar area, comes in the form of a con­ti­nen­tal buf­fet with an a la carte menu for hot items, and there’s an ex­ten­sive se­lec­tion of wines, spir­its and beers if you fancy a night­cap.

Af­ter look­ing around for the per­fect re­treat, my­self and my travel buddy de­cided, much like Dio­cle­tian him­self, that Split is fit for an em­peror...

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