Klis & Salona

Though I passed Split a lot of times, I only visited the second large city of Croatia twice: in 2003 and in 2009. Ofcourse Split is a city that deserved not be passed, but the summer heath and crowds during the summers avoided me to stop by. It can als be quite challenging to park a campervan close to the citycenter. The last time, when I came back from my sister's wedding in Italy in June 2009. Last time, in 2019 we were close, but had only limited time and chose to visit Dubrovnik, Trogir and Šibenik instead.

Kur Hielscher made four photos in Split, two in nearby Salona and another one at the ruins of Klis fortress. I've put them all below, but I did not rephotograph them all, so next time I'll go to Croatia, for sure I want to go to Split and go up to Marijan hill to rephotograph its famous view on the city.

The floor has been lowered here in the Peristyle of Emperor Dioclethian's Palace (reign 284-305 AD) somewhere in between those years I think. Some years ago, I found a similar photo from 1952 with the same floor as in 1926 in a Facebookgroup about the history of Split.

Peristil/Peristyle, 1926 and March 2003. Photos by Kurt Hielscher & either Kim or me.

These first two photos are made within the Peristyle of Diocletian's Palace are analog shots from 2003, made by me or Kim. I am not sure about that. I had just received the Kurt Hielscher's photoalbum from her as a birthdaygift a few weeks before. We decided to do something with the book and at the time she was more into photographing than I was. 

Peristyle, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher. 

March 2003. Photo by either Kim or me. 

Boarding in Ancona on the overnight ferry to Split with Kim and my oldest, the youngest was not born yet.

Leaving Ancona, Italy, after my sister's wedding, 22nd of June 2009. 

Early morning, it was 6:30AM, the 23rd of June 2009, coming from Ancona in Italy we saw land and Split at the horizon. It felt like coming home.

Riva in Split in 2009 with a lot of bars. We had a nice ice-coffee before jumping into Dioclethian's Palace.

Me walking with my oldest son in the pram in the Peristyle within Dioclethian's Palace. Kurt Hielscher made both his photos on and from the left side on this photo. In 2009 I did not even think about rephotographing his photos again. In between 2007 and 2017 I was busy with taking care of the kids.

The Cathedral and the Peristyle in 2003, analog shot.

It is said that making a wish while rubbing the toe of the famous statue of Grgur Ninski made by Ivan Meštrović (1883-1962) makes the wish come true. And I can say: it is true! It happened to Kim three times. Kim received her first kidneytransplantation in October 2002 and she recovered well from it, but another problem called PRCA, a severe illness, popped up meaning that she did not make new blood herself. She was in need for blood transfusions and in March 2003, we went to Croatia in between two treatments. A few days after our visit to Split she got out of breath again and became sick. We had to go home, but soon she got better from PRCA. Ofcourse there's a medical explanation. It was said that a specific medcine caused the PRCA, but it was never documented before, so for usnthis event remains a miracle. After rubbing Grgurs toe in Split again in 2009, she got pregnant of our youngest son and in 2012, this time in Nin, she recovered again from an illness in a miraculous way, but to be honest I can not recall what it was. Not so much later, Kim's situation detoriated and she ended up in the need for dialysis in June 2013, receiving a second transplantation in November of the same year.  

And there are three of these statues Grgur in Croatia: next to the one in Split, there's one in Nin and another one in Varaždin.

The statue was erected in September 1929 in the Peristyle of Diocletian's Palace. In 1941, the statue was moved outside the city by Italian occupying forces. In 1954, it was placed in a different location just north of the Palace and the Old Town of Split, in front of the Golden Gate, where it still is situated. A major restoration of the monument took place in between 2013 and 2015, but I hope his toe still works. We might need to go back one day. Can you imagine how impressive it must have been when the statue stood within the Peristyle? 

Kim rubbing Grgur's toe in March 2003

And again in June 2009

Here a photo from the statue of Grgur Ninski at the opening when it was placed within the Peristil in 1929 (source: Državni arhiv u Splitu) and another one from its replacement in 1952. A film from the opening ceremony on the 29th of September 1929 you can watch here. It took two more years to find its current place (source: Muzej Grada Splita)

Zlatna Vrata, Golden Gate, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Golden Gate, March 2003. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

View on Split from Marijan hill, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher. Ofcourse, this on is high on my wishing list to rephotograph. 


Just north of Split, in today's Solin, was the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia, Salona at the time. It was the birthplace of Roman Emperor Diocletianus (244-311) and an impressive heritage sight today, definitely worth a visit, when you explore the surroundings of middle Dalmatia and a nice kind of playground to play seek-and-hide with the kids too. Though you can see some minor changes over the last 92 years, can you imagine the changes of the previous one and a half millennium?

"Imagine that we walked around here for an hour to shoot the right photos with our youngest running around and jumping in front of Casper's camera. Meanwhile our oldest obediently holds the original photo for Casper so he can check the right angle. Other tourists who linger in front of the pillars to take pictures of each other. In the end, we walked out of there screaming, legs covered in horribly itchy bumps. Bickering, because Casper said it was ant bites and I was sure we were bitten by the mosquitoes or maybe it was both? And the youngest shouting: "I want to go asap, those insects drive me crazy and I want an ointment for their bites." The nice thing about this way of traveling is that we get to places where we would otherwise wouldn't have gone."- Text by Kim.

Salona, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Salona, 6th of August 2018. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

Tombs, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher. 

Tombs, 6th of August 2018. Photo: Casper Molenaar

Looking for the right angle while being attacked by ants.

Tvrđava Klis

Situated strategically in between two mountains Kliss Fortress, the so called key to Dalmatia, stretches over an impressive three hundred meters overlooking the region all the way to Split and the Adriatic coast. Klis fortress and its Uskok inhabitants played an important role at the defense of the region against the incoming Ottomans but in the end it was lost in 1537 AD. The fortress would remain under Ottoman rule for the next 111 years.

Klis, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.

Klis, 29th of April 2019. Photo: Casper Molenaar.

Walking around the fortress complex, it was really hard to see from which side it was photographed by Kurt Hielscher 93 years earlier. It could be any side. There was an exhibition inside the fortress with several old photos of it, but none of them was quite the same as the one from Kurt Hielscher. I asked an employee, who didn't show that much of interest in visitors initially, but that changed suddenly when I showed a copy of the old photo. Even asking others, she also did not come up with a clear conclusion from where the photo from Kurt Hielscher could have been made. I decided to just go down to that one spot that jumped into my eyes where I also could park the car easily. On arrival it turned out fine, but when home again, I thought that the result was even better than fine. Anyway, the Fortress of Klis is a place full of history and one that offers nice views on Split and the islands in the Adriatic behind the city, so worth visiting with the kids and there was only one couple asking me to portrait them as well in a certain scene of Game of Thrones. 

Below: Stunning view from Klis on Split and the Adriatic.

In the footsteps of  Kurt Hielscher