Roman Ruins Salona, Croatia

Today we decided to explore the coast from Trogir, all the way back to Split. On our last visit to Trogir, the Cathedral of St. Lawrence ( Katedrala Sv. Lovre) was closed, so we decided to return. Interesting fact,(for Dr Who fans) Trogir was used as Venice in Dr Who a few years ago…(thanks Trevor for that one)
It was perfect sunny winters day heading out to Trogir and we parked on the wharf before heading to the main square.

We were in luck as the Cathedral was open so we took a look inside. The current Cathedral of St. Lawrence started construction after Trogir was sacked by the Saracens in the 12th century. It was built over an older cathedral and construction continued up until the 17th century. It’s mainly Romanesque in style with a little Gothic touches, but truly reflects some of the finest craftsmen of Dalmatia and the Venetian influences.

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The portal is one of the most intriguing pieces designed by a local Croatian craftsmen. It’s quite unique with scenes of the bible across the top, the nativity, and down either side on columns saints and apostles, fabulous creatures. Adam and Eve stand on either side above two lions which guard the doorway. It really is a fabulous piece of craftsmanship and beauty.
Inside the cathedral it was decorated for Christmas with advent wreaths, christmas trees and a nativity scene. A lovely personal touch for the season.
The interior of the cathedral was built from fantastic white marble and in the middle of the aisle a beautiful cross shaped candelabra hung from the ceiling. Ambit of renovation was being conducted so the cathedral felt a bit cramped.

After the visit we decided to take a break at the cafe in the square as a local four piece jazz band started playing. The cafe was pretty popular as it was bathed in sunlight. Every now and then a local kid, encouraged by his grandfather, would let of a firecracker nearby, causing the Americans at the next table to jump and then complain. It was hilarious to watch we just killed ourselves laughing. The jazz band were pretty cool playing a groovy mix of music and singing in Croatian, Italian and English.

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When the band finished playing we boarded the bike and headed back along the bay. It was an interesting ride as each village centres around a small fortification. There’s about seven little forts which ring the bay from Trogir to Split.

Along the road we passed a Konoba cooking pigs in an outside wood oven. Croatia has a love of roasting meat and in most towns it’s easy to find a local Konoba with an oven in the front yard. Actually most Croatians have a wood oven in their front yard, along with a number of grape vines, a huge vege patch and some olive trees. They really have it worked out.
Despite the sign saying fast food the pork wasn’t quite ready, so we had to wait 20 minutes. It really wasn’t a drama and like the locals we found a table and had a few drinks. The staff of a Konoba, decided that we were German, despite the Aussie flag on my jacket, and both of us talking English. They found a German speaker to translate for the chef to ask how much pork we wanted. Maybe they thought we were Austrian not Australian. Luckily “Ich verstehe” a little german and I was able to talk to the translator. Meanwhile another guy started speaking English to us and we had a great conversation. The pork was well worth the wait and the konoba suddenly became filled with locals stopping to pick up fresh roasted pork. It was timed to perfection.
After lunch we headed back towards Split but taking a wrong turn in Solin took us past the Roman ruins of Salona, the old city. We just had to stop.

On our walking tour of Split we’d learnt that Salona used to be the capital of the roman province of Dalmatia. During the 7th century the city was invaded by Avars and Croats. The refugees from the city fled to nearby Diocletian’s palace, which became what we know today as Split. Unlike a lot of sites, the roman ruins of Salona are fairly low key. The current city of Solin has just grown up around the old ruins. The old city of Salona was a market town the where Greeks lived amongst the local Illriyans. During the Roman expansion it came under Roman rule and a Roman city was established. It continued as a roman city until the fall of the Roman Empire and the subsequent invasion of the barbarians in the 7th century. Later on when the Venetians ruled Croatia much of the old Roman buildings were broken up and shipped to Venice.


These days there’s ruins of the city walls, buildings, bath house, aqueduct, old churches and colosseum. Around the church stone sarcophagi still lay, although all have holes in the top where they’ve been broken into. It was interesting walking along the old roman road from the Colosseum just like people would’ve done almost two thousand years ago.


The Salona site covers quite a large area, and it was interesting seeing kids playing soccer amongst the ruins. Around the site kids were letting off crackers and it was funny watching dads teaching their kids how to get the best effects from their crackers.

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As the sun set on the old year, and crackers exploding across the city we headed back to our unit in preparation to see in a new year. See you next year 🙂

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