If Diocletian palace represents Split city nucleus, Marjan hill that dominates the ancient city stands as a symbol and Split’s trademark. No place is so popular and celebrated in Split as this 178 meter high pine forest hill.
What is Sljeme or Maksimir for Zagreb, Central Park for New York or Hyde Park for London, Split has a marvelous Marjan, a natural reserve on peninsula nested on the western side of Split city.
Often called the ‘lungs of the city’ this green hill is the most popular place to escape from the city busy and chaotic flow of life during the high season in July and August.
It has always been a favorite place for walking, running, jogging, climbing or riding a bike and some extreme activities like rock climbing. I recommend you to take some time to visit this magnificent natural park.
Marjan Hill History
This hill was inhabited already in prehistoric times. Some archaeological finds (housed in Archaeological Museum in Split) testified, that Greeks had settlements on Marjan around the 2nd century BC.
Until the 15th century, Marjan was covered with dense forests. But the expansion of settlements on the slopes of Marjan, uncontrolled wood cutting and Turkish invasion, devastated the Marjan so that in the 17th century, it became bare craggy hill.
The afforestation of Marjan began with the first pines in 1852 in the area of Jewish cemetery. At the same time, Marjan peninsula was populated with game like rabbits, partridges, roe deer, pheasants and wild Canadian turkeys, with over 250 watering places.
In a recent history many Split inhabitants still remember, the ex Yugoslav flag that flew over the city on the top of highest peak called Telegrin. Finally a new Croatian flag proudly stands on the highest peak of Split hill.
Getting to Marjan Hill
Marjan forest park covers a broad area, approximately of the same size as New York’s Central Park. There are several ways to reach Marjan forest Park.
It’s prohibited to drive through the park but you can park your car only near the Northern Gate. Walking is the best way to enjoy this park of nature.
Your walking tour to Marjan, will probably start from Veli Varos district, originally founded by farmers and fishermen in the late 17th century. Walk slowly up and up until you get to Cafe Bar Vidilica, the first lookout point with a wonderful view of Split and the nearby islands.
While exploring Split attractions, just behind Split National Theater , there is another way to reach Marjan Forest Park, heading up Plinarska ulica (street), cross the Prilaz Vladimira Nazora street, continuing west down Mandalinski Put. Check this way on Google map !
Only in the summer (July and August) you can take a small train in front of Split National Theater from 08 AM to 08 PM; an excellent opportunity for families with kids for only 10 Kuna.
You can also hop on bus N° 12 from Split Riva promenade near St. Frane (Saint Francis) bus stop to get directly to Bene Marjan beach. See all Split beaches !
All bus lines to Marjan hill:
- Line N° 12 Sv. Frane-Bene-(Meje)-Sv.Frane
- Line N° 21 Sv.Frane-Meje-Sv.Frane
- Bus 21 has a stop at the entrance of Kasjuni beach.
- Bene beach is the last stop on bus N° 21 line.
Marjan hiking trail map!
The best way to enjoy this natural oasis in Split is hiking. Below you can try this hill trail map. It will take you two hours and half for this trail of moderate difficulty.
Churches on Marjan hill
If you include churches in Varos, Marjan’s old neighboring district, Marjan Forest Park used to have over 29 churches. However many of them were burnt and destroyed over the centuries.
Today on Marjan there are six well-preserved churches, which can be visited while walking around Marjan Park.
Marjan hill – things to visit
Th southern part of Marjan Park hosts two important cultural institutions; Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments and Mestrovic Gallery.
Marjan’s district Meje is proud of some famous residents, first of all of the greatest Croatian sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic, who had built the palace where his family lived for over 10 years before they moved to Zagreb.
The palace today is dedicated to the famous sculptor, and it contains the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery, as part of the Museum of Ivan Mestrovic.