• Ivica Profaca

Green Oasis in The Palace

OK, we all know that Game of Thrones brought some extra attention to Split, same as with other filming locations in Croatia and elsewhere. However, in the early September 2014 one really particular spot in Split became suddenly a talk-about place on social networks. It didn't require a lot of work to achieve that. It was enough that actress Nathalie Emmanuel, Missandei in the Game of Thrones, post on Instagram a photo of herself sitting on a stairs at one of the most picturesque spots in Diocletian's Palace, locally known simply as Garden, or - in Split dialect of Croatian - Vrtal. Photo went viral in no time, with thousands of likes, and after some wild guesses where the picture was taken; Nathalie explained it's not Spain, but Split, Croatia.

However, what exactly is Vrtal, and how come a masterpiece of the stone-building like Diocletian's Palace has a garden within its walls?

Well, it is one of those little surprises any visitor likes when arriving to some place. I could have witnessed that more than once as a tour guide, and this little green oasis became one of the most photographed spots inside the Palace.

Vrtal (pron. something like vehrtahl) is placed in Dominisova street, halfway from Peristil to the Golden Gate. Among ancient stone-built houses, alleys, passages and monuments, lies a green oasis maintained solely by the tenants of this oldest part of Split. Palms and many other Mediterranean plants are unique decoration, overlooked with endless clothing strings. And all this was made completely spontaneous, by the people who live around it. Few years ago they even started some kind of citizens' riot against plans by the new owner of one of the houses surrounding Garden, who wanted to open a new bar with a terrace.

Pass by Vrtal, and enjoy in one of the examples how life is maintaining inside the Diocletian's Palace. And when you are already there, just turn around from the green, and there it is - an ancient Egyptian Sphynx head built-in into the wall of one of the houses. Nice addition to Split historical layers.

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