Complete Guide to the Best Split Museums
Are there more relevant places as Split museums and galleries to get acquaintance about city’s rich history from ancient times to the present day? Split Croatia, my birth city, is a real bliss for history seekers.
Generally, a museum is intended as a building where is gathered a wide collection of objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest, of one city or even the whole state.
Split city has much more than a confined space of one museum building. One of the most memorable characteristics of Split city is Diocletian’s Palace , the historical core of the city and unique museum, under the open sky.
There aren’t many cities (Dubrovnik is one of them), like Split, where on the surface of 181 x 216 meters, you’ll find the various forms of human achievements in this area where life, vibrating there since prehistoric times to the present days.
Split has a long tradition of collecting and monuments conservation. Just to mention that the first museum was founded in Renaissance period by Split nobleman and humanist Dominik Papalic (today the Split City Museum) in 16th century.
If I add to this list, Salona, another museum under the open sky (5 km from Diocletian palace), considered the largest site of ancient times monuments in Croatia, it reveals the rich proofs of Split city rich and tumultuous history.
Split Museums Within The Palace
It is obvious that many tourists will spend most of their time inside this impressive palace. There are three museums located inside the city walls.
I propose to start your fascinating historical journey just behind the the St.Duje Cathedral where awaits for you, Ethnographic Museum.
Opened in 1910 this museum has changed his place several times, before it found its current location. Museum houses the rich tradition and heritage of Split and Dalmatia region , from jewellery and weapons to costumes and embroidery.
Next to the entrance of this museum, there is also the entrance to the top of Vestibule, via a stone stairs from where you can admire the spectacular view of the sea, old town and the Vestibule below.
The Treasury of Split Cathedral
This treasury the most valuable one in Croatia that houses a collection of golden artifacts and church garments, books and other relics of saints and martyrs from the Romanesque, Gothic and baroque period.
It contains relics of Saint Duje, which were brought to the cathedral after his death. Among silver items, it is worth to mention the ‘Madonna with a Child and 11 apostles’, a panel painting from the beginning of the 14th century.
The Treasury of Split Cathedral
Address: Kraj St. Duje 3 21000 Split
Phone: 021 345 602
Opening hours – from 08 AM to 20 PM (summer period)
Free entrance with SplitCard
The City Museum of Split
Located inside the old palace, is one of the most important and visited Split museums. The collection of cultural and museums activities are associated with Papalic palace that houses the Museum of the City of Split.
In the late 15th and early 16th century in this remarkable Gothic-Renaissance palace, which belonged to a noble family Papalic, was a collection of ancient stone monuments from Salona.
The museum also contains a gallery of Emanuel Vidovic, dedicated to the most important Split painter of the 20th century and one of the foremost protagonists of Croatian modern painting.
The most prominent part of the museum is the collection of medieval weapons and the interior of this splendid 15th-century town house.
Worth visiting is the dining room, on the first floor, furnished just as it once was when this noble family owned the house, giving some idea of how the nobility of that time lived.
Split City museum
Address: Papaliceva 1. Phone: 021 360 171, 021 360 172.
Working hours: Mon – Sun 08:30 AM to 09:00 PM. Closed on holidays, March 27th Easter,December 25th Christmas, January 1st New Year.
Ticket price: Adults 20 Kuna, children, students, seniors 10 Kuna. Free entrance with SplitCard.
Split Museums and Galleries Outside The Palace
Among Split museums Archaeological Museum in Split is the oldest museum founded in 1820. Originally it was located near the eastern walls of Diocletian’s Palace.
It soon became too small for the growing number of monuments, mostly containing the mosaics, sarcophagi, potteries and a large collection of ancient coins, covering the Greek and Roman periods from the nearby Roman capital of Salona.
It’s located in vicinity of the National Theater. It’s a worth visiting as the only among Split museums that mostly focus on Greek and Roman period.It’s just a short walk from Split Riva waterfront and old palace.
Croatian Maritime Museum
Among Split museums, this one is the only one related entirely to the maritime heritage of the Adriatic coast from prehistory to modern times.
Inside the museum, the Merchant Maritime exhibition shows the development of sailing ships from classical times through to the age of steam.
The Croatian Maritime Museum is situated in the courtyard of the Gripe Fortress. The fortress played a crucial part in Split’s history, especially during the Cretan war (1645-1669).
The Gripe Fortress was built in the mid-17th century, mostly in the year 1656, during repeated attempts by the Turks to seize the city. It gave shelter to the city’s inhabitants and saved the town from the terrible siege that took place in 1657.
Maritime museum houses also interesting collections of images, flags, diving equipment, fisheries collections, underwater archaeology collection, armor and weapons and vessels collection.
Natural history museum in Split
The original name of this museum is Prirodoslovni Muzej i Zooloski Vrt. I must say than this is one of Split museums rather poor and less visited.
Few years ago zoological garden at Marjan hill was a part of this museum, but due to the terrible conditions in which animals live, this Zoo was finally definitely closed.
Today museum is located in Poljana kneza Trpimira 3 street and divided into three rooms. The first houses, fauna and flora of Croatia (with dried plants and stuffed animals) while the second and third one exhibit insects and marine life with shells and corals from Adriatic Sea and from other parts of the world.
Museum of Fine Arts
If you have to decide which of Split museums to visit first, this one is one of the most distinguished. According to its Croatian name ‘Galerija Umjetnina’ it would be more logical to call it The Gallery of Fine Arts.
Probably it’s more a museum than a gallery as its valuable collection holds over 5200 works, that covers the period of time from the 14th century to the contemporary art production.
Covering a time span of nearly seven hundred years, visiting this museum is an opportunity for unique time travel, a space where you can experience the incomparable adventure of art, from Renaissance to the present days.
Besides the Croatian artists, the Museum’s collection holds artworks from Yugoslavia, Italy, Germany, Austria, France, and Czech Republic. The Croatian art is represented by two Croatian key figures, Vlaho Bukovac and Emanuel Vidovic.
Gallery Emanuel Vidovic
Among Split museums and galleries stands out Emanuel Vidovic gallery. As a pillar of the Split art scene for half a century this painter and graphic artist, was born in Split in 1870.
In 1986, the Emanuel Vidovic Gallery was opened in Split, featuring the life and works of the artist. Just round the corner from the Peristyle, in the beautifully restored Romanesque house houses its three stores to the career of this beloved local painter.
Split Live Museum
A newly arrived museum in Split, unlike other Split museums is based on user preferences.
Live Museum Split presents some of the most interesting scenes from daily life of Roman citizens. More than 50 artists are working on authenticity and sets so that visitors can have pure Roman experience.
Living museum consists of authentic ancient Roman scenery and actors dressed in authentic costumes. You can see and learn about the emperor, senators, patricians, plebeians, soldiers, slaves and gladiators.
They have interesting performances, based on historical narratives. Each performance lasts up to fifteen minutes. The museum is open every day.
Located in the city center in the bastion “Cornaro” near the Statue of Gregory of Nin and Art Gallery, 50 meters from the Golden Gate of Diocletian’s Palace.
Split Museums and Galleries on Marjan Hill
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 park hill.
On the southern slopes of Marjan hill among Split museums and galleries, stand out two famous galleries and one museum.
Museum Of Croatian Archeological Monuments (MHAS)
I may be confused with another Archeological museum, but the the one I’ve mentioned above is Split Archeological Museum ( It hosts mainly Diocletian Emperor period including Salona excavations).
MHAS museum is the only one among Split museums that was founded with the unique task to explore, collect, present and study the remains of tangible and intangible culture of the Croats from the Middle Ages, in particular from the time of the early medieval Croatian State (from the 9th to 12th century). Text is taken from MHAS website.
This museum is located at Setaliste Ivana Mestrovića 18 and it’s open daily from 09 AM to 04 PM. On Sunday is closed. It’s reachable on foot (20 minutes) from Riva promenade or by car. Check this direction on the map!
Ivan Mestrovic Gallery
This gallery is the place one must visit. Walking around Split city the works of the greatest Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic are visible everywhere
If you take a walk to southern slopes of Marjan Hill at Setaliste Ivana Meštrovića n° 46 you can visit the gallery built on original plans of Mestrovic himself that preserves and presents to the public the most significant works of this great sculptor.
Not far from the gallery, a five- minute walk further west following the same road, lies Kastelet – Crikvine at number 39, the summer house bought by Mestrovic in 1939.
Inside the Kastelet are exposed the artist’s most stunning creation, a cycle of 28 wooden reliefs based on the life of Jesus Christ, as the result of almost twenty years work.