One of the most striking sights around the Diocletian’s Palace is the huge statue of, what appears to be, a giant wizard.
We found him outside the Golden Gate of the palace, towering over the walls and surrounded by onlookers and two Roman guards (actually, two dudes in fancy dress, but who’s checking?!).
Despite looking like a wizard, the statue is actually of Grgur Ninski. Playing a huge role in preserving the old Croatian language and supporting catholic practices in local languages rather than in Latin, our tour guide described him as a symbol of national pride.
She told us a further story about how the statue had moved locations a number of times, with locals protecting it from destruction before it was located in its current resting place. The way our tour guide told it, the statue had been broken down into small pieces and hidden across different locations until it was safe to reunite the statue in a safer location.
The biggest stand out feature of the statue is his huge, shiny toe! The toe has been worn smooth by thousands of visitors rubbing it for good luck or to have their wishes granted. So much so that the toe is now a completely different colour to the rest of the statue.
Although an imposing statue, it feels completely at home in its current location, watching over the palace walls.
It’s stories like this that peppered our visit to Split, learning more about the history and culture from the stories of locals – in my opinion, that’s the best way to learn.