Plan your Travels to Salona
The ruins of the ancient city of Salona, situated at the foot of the mountains just northeast of Split, are the most archaeologically important in Croatia. Start by paying your admission fee at Tusculum museum, near the northern entrance to the reserve. Built in 1898 by the site’s ground-breaking archaeologist Monsignor Frane Bulić as a base for his research, it has a Roman-style drawing room with displays on the early archaeology undertaken here.Proceed south down a path bordered by cypresses and note the remains of the original city fortifications. Although unimposing now, imagine them punctuated by the 90 towers that were erected in 170AD.
Continue west and you’ll come to the Amphitheatre at the northwestern end of the park. Built in the 2nd century, the arena was integrated into the town fortifications. Consisting of three floors, there was even a system to cover it all with canvas to protect against rain and the heat of the sun. There was a space underneath the auditorium for the gladiators to pray to the goddess Nemesis and a corridor to whisk out the gladiator’s dead bodies. It was here that the Christian martyrs lost their lives. In the 5th century fights between gladiators ceased (civilized!) but fights between gladiators and wild animals continued. The arena could also be filled with water for the simulated reenactment of naval battles. The Venetians destroyed the amphitheatre in the 17th century as part of their struggle against the Ottoman Turks.
Trip to Salona FAQs
When to visit Salona
You can visit Salona all year around. The main entrance is open Monday-Saturday 9am-7pm; Sunday 9am-2pm. Outside of opening hours it’s possible to visit the park either through the main entrance (the gate is normally left open) or from the entrance at the amphitheatre.
Why visit the Salona Roman ruins?
Despite the area being one of the best and largest archeological examples of the Roman Empire, much of the area is lacking preservation. You might struggle to believe it’s as an important site as it is. There are few staff around, minimal information available, and it’s a very under-appreciated site. Luckily, things have started to change with more renovations and restorations recently.
The benefit to the site being so casually maintained is you can really get in amongst the ruins. You can walk freely anywhere, right up to and inside the ruins. Please be respectful and mindful of this as a historic site, though. Don’t vandalise or cause any damage!
Matilda Your Croatia Expert
How to move around Salona?
It might be easy to get lost due to the limited directions. I would consider the park in 4 main sections:
- Manastirine & Museum/Garden: Easy to find as it’s right by the entrance.
- Main ruins: You can’t miss it, it’s right down the footpath road heading south. You’ll see the bulk of the ruins here including the baths, Bridge of 5 Arches, and city walls.
- Amphitheatre: Either follow the footpath around the ruins and turn RIGHT as you face south, or walk around the edge of the inside of the ruins until you can see the footpath. Cross a bridge and walk between olive groves until you see the amphitheatre after a small car park.
- Theatre: A bit tricky to find but there is a signpost as you reach the bridge to/from the amphitheatre. Turn down the hill on a path between an olive grove until you reach the ruins.