Research on Diocletian's Palace

Diocletian's Palace has been a subject of great interest since ancient times. In the tenth century the Byzantine emperor and writer, Constantine Porphyrogenitos, described the Palace, praising its grandeur.

The palace was also described by Marko Marulic, a Split humanist and the first author who wrote in Croatian, and by Antonious Proculianus, a sixteenth century clerk of the Split Municipality.

An unknown Italian artist of the sixteenth century made drawings of the Mausoleum which were owned and annotated by Palladio (to whom they were attributed by Hebrard, who first discovered them). In the seventeenth century, Spon and Wheler visited Split, and included a description, illustrated by rather primitive drawings, in the account of their travels.

The earliest scientific approach to study of the palace was made by Fischer von Erlach, the Austrian architect of the late Baroque, who made a drawing which attempts for the first time to reconstruct the original appearance of the Roman palace. This drawing was later taken over and published by Farlati in his book, Illyricum Sacrum.

In 1757, the Palace was investigated by the Scottish architect Robert Adam and his draftsmen. Adam published the results of their work in 1764. His book is the first thorough study of the Palace. It is important not only because it contains the earliest detailed drawings and surveys, showing how the building appeared in the eighteenth century, but also because it attracted the attention of a wide public, including scholars throughout Europe.

Parts of the Palace were drawn by the French engraver Cassas at the end of the eighteenth century. His engravings, which today are important sources of information, were published in 1802 by J. Lavalle in his travelogue.

These two books established the importance of Split for archaeological scholarship. During the nineteenth century it was frequently mentioned, and certain limited research was carried out.

At the beginning of the century, two investigation teams visited Split. The Austrian architect, Georg Niemann, with his sons, made a systematic survey of the visible remains and published a monograph in 1910 which gave a comprehensive interpretation of the original form of the Palace. At about the same time, the Palace was investigated by the French architect, Ernst Hebrard, and historian, Jacques Zeiller, who published their monograph in 1912. Their researches were supplemented in the period between the two world wars by the eminent archaeologist and conservationist Msgr. Frane Bulic, who published in 1927 his book in collaboration with Ljubo Karaman, an art historian.

Since the Second World War there has been significant progress in the investigation of Diocletian's Palace. Cvito Fiskovic and Jerko and Tomislav Marasovic have been the most active scholars who published a number of articles and studies.

With the final recognition of Croatia as an independent state (January 15,1991) Split assumes a new role in the territorial reorganization of Croatia according to districts. Without doubt, the exploration, conservation and restoration of the Palace will receive a new momentum.

If you are more interested on this topic, or if you want to order the latest book on the Palace, please, contact:

    Tomislav Marasovic
    The World Cultural Heritage
    Split - Croatia
    Published by:
    Publishers Dominovic and Buvina, Zagreb
    Zagreb-Split, 1994