Salona was an ancient city and the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia, founded probably after the Roman civil wars under Julius Caesar. The name Salona preserves the language of the early inhabitants of this area whom the Romans called the Dalmatae, considered to be part of a larger group called the Illyrians. Salona is situated in today's town of Solin, right next to Split, is the largest archaeological park in Croatia.
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Last reviewed: 12 February 2021
The ancient city of Salona developed near the estuary of Jadro, and the later medieval settlement was formed on one of the several islands formed by the river, which is where today's center is also situated.
In the first millennium BC the Greeks set up an emporion (marketplace) in Salona. After the conquest by the Romans, Salona became the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia because it sided with the future Roman Dictator Gaius Julius Caesar in the civil war against Pompeius and Marcus Licinius Crassus of the first Triumvirate.
Modern Solin developed on the location of ancient city of Salona which was the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia and the birthplace of Emperor Diocletian. In the late ancient times, Salona's importance was great both politically and religiously. Salona was an early Roman settlement with over 60,000 inhabitants and, according to the legend, the birthplace of Emperor Diocletian. Salona ecame overshadowed when Roman Emperor Diocletian retired and constructed nearby the monumental massive structure, known as Diocletian's Palace, that became the core of the modern city of Split in about the year 300 AD.
Martia Iulia Valeria Salona Felix (the full name of the ancient city) was founded probably after the Roman civil wars under Julius Caesar. The early Roman city encompassed the area around the Forum and Theatre, with an entrance, the Porta Caesarea, on the north-east side, The walls were fortified with towers during the reign of Augustus.
The city quickly acquired Roman characteristics: walls; a forum; a theatre; an amphitheatre – the most conspicuous above-ground remains today; public baths; and an aqueduct. Many inscriptions in both Latin and Greek have been found both inside the walls and in the cemeteries outside, since Romans forbade burials inside the city boundaries. A number of fine marble sarcophagi from those cemeteries are now in the Archaeological Museum of Split. All this archaeological evidence attests to the city's prosperity and integration into the Roman Empire.
Salona was largely destroyed in the invasions of the Avars and Croats in the 7th-century AD, though the exact year of the destruction still remains an open subject between archaeologists. Surviving local residents of Salona moved to settlement in and around Diocletian's Palace, turning it into a fortified town.
Salona is the largest archaeological park in Croatia, whose size is attested by the monumental ramparts with towers and gates, a forum with temples, an amphitheater and cemeteries with Salonian martyrs. In the Early Middle Ages Solin was part of the Croatian territory and played an important role in Medieval Croatian state, being one of the political centres.
Christianity in Salona probably originated during the time of the apostles. The Apostle Paul mentions that his pupil Apostle Titus traveled to Dalmatia so the assumption that he worked in Dalmatia's capital city of Salona, at least for a short time, is probable. That city, located on the Adriatic coast, with excellent sea connections with Italy and the Middle East, attracted Christian messengers of faith.
In the 9th century, duke Trpimir I of Croatia built a Benedictine monastery between Klis and Solin. Inscriptions dated to 852 from there are first known written record of the name of Croats in modern-day Croatian territory.
In the 10th century, queen Helen (Jelena) had built two churches by the Jadro: the Church of St. Stephen and the Church of St. Mary. The Church of St. Stephen was the burial place of a number of Croatian kings along with other nobility, It was destroyed by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century.
In the 11th century, the Church of Saint Peter and Moses (known today as "hollow church") was built north of Solin, near the two churches of Saint Mary and Stephen, in which Demetrius Zvonimir was crowned as king of Dalmatia and Croatia.
In the 20th century intensive industrialisation process of the Split basin made Solin no more than a suburb of Split. Today, with its independent municipal status, Solin is part of the Split conurbation, well connected with other towns. Besides industry, a tourism is being developed lately based on numerous archaeological sites and Solin's distinctive image that comes from many urban parks along the Jadro.
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