To get away from the centuries-old stones and enjoy some Mediterranean vegetation the only solution is to explore Marjan hill. Overgrown with pine and cactus, the 123m-high Marjan hill is a natural preserve on a peninsula that juts out from west Split. Often called the "lungs of the city", Marjan hill is a delightful blend of macchia, Mediterranean florae, promenades, belvederes and sweeping views. Views are especially good from Marjan hill's western cliffs that are a favorite of rock-climbers.
Many, many steps (no wonder the people of Split are so trim and fit!) take you from the Veli Varos neighbourhood up and up until you come to Cafe Bar Vidilica with a splendid view that encompasses all Split and a good number of its off-shore islands. In the nearby forest is the old Jewish cemetery which can be visited. If the gate is locked, ask at the Cafe Vidilica for the key. (see more about Jewish heritage in Split)
To the north of the cemetery is a path leading to Prvi Vrh and a very small zoo. Continue climbing and you'll come to Telegrin, the top of Marjan at 175m.
To the south of the Jewish cemetery, a path ascends to a smaller plateau and the Romanesque church of St Nikolas, dating from the 13th century.
Contine westward below Betlem Church, then by the 15th-century church of St Jere. Follow the path as it winds west through the forest downhill to Bene Beach.
At the foot of Marjan hill are several of Split's most interesting museums, including the Mestrovic Gallery and the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments. And some of Split's best beaches lie at the foot of Marjan hill.
Another way to explore the hill park is to enter on the northern side, rent a bike and cycle a few kilometers to the Bene beach sports complex. There's a playground, tennis courts, a caffe-bar and beautiful Bene Beach. The road is closed to traffic and circles round Marjan hill on the outer perimeter where the shiny sea peeks behind the pines. There may be a more beautiful Mediterranean bike ride somewhere but right now I can't think of one.
Another way to appreciate Marjan Hill is to stroll the new seaside promenade that extends from Split's waterfront. Called the Zapadna Obala, this promenade sports palm trees, fountains, benches, sun beds and a biking lane. Although the renovation cost over a million euros, it will also lure yachties with additional berthing possibilities and a refueling station.
In April 2013, Marjan Hill was named a "protected cultural landscape area" which prohibits real estate development on the hill.
Get Croatia Traveller's Dalmatia: Split to Dubrovnik 2018
Marjan Hill Park Management (in Croatian)
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