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Every old city in Europe has an Old City historic district—but Split has the only downtown actually carved from the carcass of an ancient Roman palace. When the emperor Diocletian split the Roman Empire in A.D. 305, he built a lavish palace on the Croatian coast to live out his days as head of the empire's eastern half. In the 1,700 years since, the ruins of his enormous structure have been colonized by the locals, the buildings turned into medieval town houses, the emperor's tomb transformed into the cathedral, and the mighty brick undercrofting of it all now used as evocative exhibition space and to house underground market stalls.


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