Solin, Croatia

Salona (Ancient Greek: Σάλωνα) was an ancient city and the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. 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 (or Salon) is situated in today's town of Solin, right next to Split, in modern-day Croatia.

The first mention of the name Salon originates about 7th century BC as an Illyrian settlement near the spring of river Jadro. It 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 (Manastirine, Kapljuč, Marusinac). Salona was a town with over 60,000 inhabitants and, according to the legend, the birthplace of Emperor Diocletian. In the first millennium BC the Greeks set up an emporion (marketplace) there. After the conquest by the Romans, Salona became the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia because it sided with the future Roman emperor Gaius Julius Caesar in the civil war against Pompeius and Marcus Licinius Crassus of the first Triumvirate. 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 early trapezoidal shape of the city was transformed by eastern and western expansion of the city. 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.


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