Diocletian’s Palace

My November home in Croatia houses a palace accessible by way of a 25 minute walk along the beach. Because I grew up on Disney princess movies, I dreamed about palace life. Even role playing with my cousin on most play dates we had. Now I can delightfully say that the palace is as magical as I imagined.

Diocletian was a Roman emperor who decided to retire in Split, Croatia. He voluntarily retired to leave the throne and Roman Empire for the beach of the breathtaking Adriatic Sea. I can see why.

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Built in the fourth century, the palace spanned 30,000 square meters then. That’s equivalent to 4.8 White Houses! In addition to the palace itself, housing for the military garrison occupied the grounds.

The Palace makes up most of Old Town today. Currently, shops, cafes, restaurants, and apartments are located in the narrow pathways of the huge palace with 3000 people living within the walls. People call a palace home! The pathways are intricate so when using Google Maps navigation, the directions given get wonky.

The Sunday morning I enter with Barb, my eyes have a feast with the ruins. I know we’re in for a day of photographer’s delight. Massive, tall columns and arches surround me. The Roman architecture is prominent everywhere I look and I can’t get enough. An arch in front of me and behind me and more to the left and right. A vaulted ceiling to stand under at every turn. I’m having so much fun.

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As I gleefully click away on my camera, I catch wave of the harmonious sound of multiple voices singing. Quickly, Barb and I run down a short flight of stairs into the rotunda where a Dalmatian acapella group is performing. Their voices are beautiful and I feel so moved by the music I get tears in my eyes.

They leave after the one song and Barb and I are smiling at each other with our eyes gleaming.

“Wasn’t that just amazing?!” I feel so much joy from the beauty of their song.

We exchange excitement for a few more moments, then head on our way through the palace. Everywhere we turn, Barb and I are now exclaiming to each other about the next beautiful part of a wall, pathway, arch, or entryway. Our attention being caught by the textures and ruggedness of the walls and floor.

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We take a break by stowing away into a small museum that is deserted save one or two other people. Eventually, we wander into an attic that looks out gorgeously to homes and rooftops. I feel such awe about people who grew up in a palace as their everyday environment. Imagine walking within palace walls for your usual routine. If a palace is your normal, then what is exciting?

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On second thought, perhaps excitement isn’t the desire. More likely, the appreciation for what is – in this case, a beautiful palace and the everyday life lived among it – is the desire. I notice the man sitting in his yard with his hands behind his head. That is a posture of content.

Content. Much like what I feel in this moment with my silver and pink camera in my hands, scanning the world around me for a still to capture.

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My favorite photo of Barb I take that day reminds me of the playfulness we shared all morning. The wall textures and Roman architecture are prominent in the shot and Barb is in her photo taking element (Did I mention she’s a professional photographer? See her work at https://barbaracameronpix.com).

We spend a while in a square watching people pass and snapping photos of outfits with red or oranges that pop against the white stones. We’re patient for the shots and I enjoy the wait and composing them.

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