Diocletian’s Palace

Split, Croatia


  • Harald Mooij TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment


In the year 305, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletian stood down as the emperor of the Roman Empire of his own free will – unheard of in ancient times – to retire to his recently completed residence on the Adriatic coast, near the fishing village of Asphalatos in present-day Croatia. During his 20-year reign, he implemented some major strategic innovations including economic and military reorganizations and the separation of the Roman Empire into a western and an eastern part, with two equivalent emperors (Augusti) and two successors (Caesars) sharing power: the so-called tetrarchy. From his byzantine capital Nicomedia (currently Izmit in Turkey) he had been overseeing the construction of his palace: strategically located between the two empires, protected by a mountain range and an ocean, and not far from his presumptive place of birth Salona.

One of the so-called Illyrian emperors, Diocletian had not been appointed emperor by the Roman senate but, following the death of his predecessor in 284, unanimously elected by the Eastern Armies he as commander of the protectores domestici led into triumph during the Persian war. In the palace he built from 295 to 305 for the years after his announced resignation, the bonds between the emperor and his soldiers are expressed by the unusual combination of luxurious residence and army camp.

Author Biography

Harald Mooij, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Harald Mooij studied architecture and building technology at Delft University of Technology and at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia (IUAV). He is an architect in The Hague and is currently involved in various projects, including housing. He has been a lecturer and researcher at Delft University of Technology in the Chair of Architecture and Dwelling since 2004. He writes regularly for professional journals in the Netherlands and abroad, is co-editor of DASH and co-author of the book Housing Design: A Manual, published in 2008 (English edition in 2011).