• Ivica Profaca

Centre of the World

As modest as they are, Splićani (we already learn, but here it is again: people living in or originating from Split) truly believe that this city is the centre of the world. How about going a one step forward, and determine where the centre of Split is? In terms of every day's life, there is the Diocletian's Palace as the urban core of Split, there is Pjaca (Narodni trg) as the centuries-old centre of all social life, and there is Riva as a sort of the city's living room. Choosing one of them is a matter of preferences, and knowing Splićani, probably each one would have his or her own, different reasons. However, there is almost a scientific answer on this dilemma. It has nothing to do with geometry, but has with urbanism and its rules. As a dedicated fan and collector of items which can tell some interesting tales about the history of Split, I just love browsing through digital archives. One of them I find particularly interesting, and belongs to a City Library Marko Marulić, and it's called Library Spalatina. In that history goldmine there is a beautiful little book, published in 1913, and called Splitski kažiput (translation attempt: Split Street Glossary). Among other things, it's great for reconstructing old street names, even who lived and worked in Split of that time. Why I like this booklet the most is, however, a little gem of urban planning which gives an exact location of the very centre of the centre of the world. In short, heart of Split is in the middle of Riva, next to that highly decorated house called Perović House with a plaque saying that Sigmund Freud once stayed there. Here is the explanation: in early 1910s, Riva was split in two parts, named Diocletian's and French Waterfront. Right where they were touching each other stood a still-existing small gate, part of the 15th century Venetian castle. Perović House bore an address Diocletian's Waterfront 1. Next door was French Waterfront 1. BTW, this promenade was named after Napoleon's rule in early 1800s, when this part of Riva was built. And here is what the glossary says: "From that starting point all Split streets, waterfronts and squares are numerated, in a way that number 1 of every one of them is at the house which is closer to the city gate. With such orientation, anyone can easily reach Waterfront from any street in the city. It's enough just to follow street numbers from higher to lower, and he will inevitably come to Riva". Few things changed in the meantime, but this simple rule is still valid. So, if you get lost in the old town labyrinth, just follow house numbers.

Previously published on Visit Split

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