We are not in Rome, but it certainly seems like it!
I could go into a lot of historical detail about Split because the city had started off as a :retirement" palace for the Roman emperor Diocletian over 1,700 years ago. I'll try to keep my textuals to a minimum.
Fun Facts about Diocletian (in a Nutshell):
- Diocletian was a pretty big deal because he was literally a self-made emperor; rising from a low status family, through the ranks of the military, then to emperor-hood.
- As emperor, Diocletian renovated the status of the emperor so there would be more respect given and also received. You could say the empire was in a bit of a shambles.
- Diocletian is remember for instituting the Tetrarchy (rulership by four).
- The Tetrarchy essentially transferred rule among 4 guys that he hand selected (4 including himself of course), so that no one emperor had all the power.
- This system worked well enough until he retired. He lived to see the Tetrarchy fail.
More Fun Facts about Diocletian:
- He built the palace during his career as emperor to serve as his retirement home/fortress.
- He was really into his vegetable gardening. (Who isn't?) That's all he planned to do in retirement.
- Red was an important color and symbolized the rule of the emperor.
- Literacy was not common among lower statuses, so color and imagery was used to explain stories, rules, etc. Diocletian went with red.
- An example | Columns lined the peristyle square at the crossroads between the royal half and commoner half of the palace. Where the "common" white columns ended, so began the red columns signifying the start of the emperor's living/dining quarters (and vegetable gardens).
- Celebrity red carpet, anyone?
Best Observations in Split:
- There's over 1,700 hundred centuries of arts, culture, war and politics at work in Split. You turn and one corner and you've discovered a new world.
- Recycle | You'll see a parfait of architectural designs throughout the palace alone. The common thought was, "why rebuild when we have the foundation already here?" (These Romans built things to last, and last.) Turn a corner and you found Medieval architecture. Turn another corner and you feel like you're in the Venetian Renaissance.
- Copy + Past | Even the Romans borrowed designs and ideas from the peoples they conquered and you'll find that reflected in the designs on their moldings and sculptural work atop their columns. The basement of the palace is a reflection of someone's ideas from somewhere else! You'll even find Roman graffiti on the walls if you look closely. (Chiseled of course.) Some of the graffiti is an early reflection of Christianity, because even the religion borrowed from pagan symbols.
Perhaps humanity is so constantly inspired by itself that we're in a unending state of copy and paste. Does that mean there are really no new ideas...? (Anyone want to tackle that question?)
In reality, to understand art history and how art developed, you have to look through the world historical lens. Seems a simple concept until you actually consider the span of time we've covered. Art and architecture were meant for aesthetics and pleasure, but also to show off power and wealth. Art was also there, reacting to how politics, war, and economics (or 3827498274 emperors) were played out. That's why art is never referred to along when you visit a city or country.....it's always art & culture. :)
Cities like Split, cities like Rome, cities like Budapest or Dubrovnik (where we just landed)--are all HUGE visual examples of how the progress of our arts & culture has constantly endured/adapted.
My apologies for a college essay today. My grandpop was a high school history teacher and although I got a bit ramble-y, I don't think he'd approve of my research and writing style. ;) Sorry Pop! (Any high schoolers out there doing research on Diocletian....don't quote me!)
Anyway, point is--I heart Split! Left Vis at 5:30am today and just got to Dubrovnik via bus. Had a 30 minute stop in Bosnia and Herzegovina, so I suppose I could say I've "been there."
Hoping I've got some time in on Vis watercolors today! We'll see. Dubrovnik already looks awesome.
Until next time (with less ramblings).....cheers!