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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Diocletian's Palace

The Diocletian Palace in Split has the distinction of being the only Roman Palace still inhabited by people. The locals say that it is an ancient space with modern uses. Till recently, people who lived inside the palace were those with little means to buy newer and bigger lodgings. Nowadays, wealthier landlords have taken over the lodgings and converted them into AirBnB apartments for let. If you are a self-driving tourist, it is best to stay outside the Diocletian Palace even though the allure of actually living within a real Roman palace is undeniable.

You see, the parking here is horrendous.

The Roman Emperor Diocletian was proclaimed Emperor in AD 284. He built this palace as his retirement home. Eventually, he died and was buried in the mausoleum in the middle of the Diocletian Palace. A few hundred years later, in the 7th century, nearby residents fled into the palace to escape from invaders. Since then, the palace has continually been occupied. This probably explains why much of the palace is still standing. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage monument.

When the palace was built, it had the perfect and elegant proportions of a royal dwelling. However, when people moved in, they began building their own stone houses hither and thither. The extensive gardens disappeared only to be replaced by a veritable warren of buildings with narrow streets. The grand vistas and walkways also disappeared. Large windows were bricked up. When one marble pillar collapsed, people dragged another marble pillar (of different colour and design) from nearby ruins in Salona and popped it in there to support the roof. It really is a very amusing construction.

See the row of pillars on the right? Originally, one could walk through into a wide space there.

In later years, after the Romans had abandoned the site, someone built a building right there behind the pillars. I am of 2 minds about this. It seems such a travesty to destroy the initial aspect of the dwelling but then again, these newer building additions are also the sole reason why those pillars still stand and are well-preserved today.


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Lee,

I've been a follower of your blog for awhile now and I really enjoy reading your post!(esp on the part where you talk about family and the Education system as a whole in Singapore.) :)

As you might've read the latest news article regarding the Mum (Founder of who is disappointed with her son's PSLE score, I'm really interested to know what is your take on this? (Refer to the link below)

Looking forward!

Petunia Lee said...

Hi... thank you for inviting my comments. I have decided not to comment directly. (1) The boy cannot do anything anymore about his PSLE t-score. (2) His mom is in pain. (3) The boy is barely 12 years old. Just because his parents run Kiasuparents Forum, this poor boy is being skewered in social media. Whether it is for his parents to raise the profile of the forum OR for the journalist to troll the forum, sacrificing a 12 year old's emotional health to pander to adult needs is plain wrong. If the boy commits suicide because of this, who will be to blame?