Split is the second largest city in Croatia and the capital of the Split-Dalmatia County. Historically the site has benefited from having an advantageous position by the Adriatic Sea, being in the middle region of the Dalmatian coast and in proximity of many islands. This allowed the place to be throughout its long history considered an ideal location for a port.
Most of Split's history takes a focus on Diocletian's Palace built 1,700 years ago. However, the city had already enjoyed a long existence before being chosen as a retirement home by the Roman Emperor. Split was founded as a Greek settlement named Aspalathos, at a site previously inhabited by Illyrian tribes. The Romans conquered it during the Illyrian Wars of 229 B.C. and 219 B.C. upon which they named the province Dalmatia and announced nearby Salona – today known as Solin – as the capital and renamed Aspalathos to Spalatum. In the Middle Ages, Split changed hands quite a few times from the Byzantine Empire, Venetian Republic, Kingdom of Hungary, to the Kingdom of Croatia and a few back and forth in between. The coming and going of rulers left recognisable marks on the layout of the city, its architecture, traditions and even in speech since the local dialect has integrated words of the Venetian dialect for example. The city later came under Ottoman rule, where its importance as a main port of the region was again reinstated. The coming and going of empires to the city wouldn’t stop there, since it was subsequently occupied by Napoleon, the Austria-Hungarian Empire and finally by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia during the first half of the 20th century. As Yugoslavia fractured into new states, Split became part of the Republic of Croatia where today it stands as a beacon of history and a favourite tourist destination.
Its historical core, which includes the famous Palace of Roman Emperor Diocletian, was inscribed on UNESCO's world heritage list in 1979. A visit to the old town of Split is a visit through centuries of the city's life, with endless layers of history, architecture and urban spirit. Unfortunately, rapid development of mass tourism in the last years is threatening the preservation of the historic city and leads to gentrification and deterioration.
When considering the cultural heritage of Split, visitors and locals rarely look outside of its historical core.
The objective of the project is therefore to discover a different approach to neglected or invisible parts of Split through interaction with their local communities. It will aim to find and to tell the stories of selected neighbourhoods of the city focusing on their elements of cultural value, including examples of important modernist architecture, very often neglected and not considered as cultural heritage in need of preservation. The outcomes of the project will be used for awareness raising not only among the locals, but also towards visitors as they can encourage the tourists who are visiting the centre to move towards the areas where people actually live and thus to discover the city in a different way.
The participants will be involved in activities of cultural touristic mapping, documentation, storytelling for heritage and content creation while engaging in social contexts with local members of the community and visitors. The project will require the participants to work together as a group and brainstorm around the invisible heritage of Split and the ways to valorise it in the context of this city. They will learn about the history of Split and will get the opportunity to explore the historical city centre, but at the same time they will also get to know about other parts of the city through presentations and lectures. The team of Culture Hub Croatia will facilitate for these activities the support of relevant local heritage experts as well as university professors.
Culture Hub Croatia has hosted since 2017 several European Heritage Volunteers Projects dealing with the interpretation and documentation of cultural heritage in Croatia. During these years, Culture Hub Croatia has grown as an organisation and has reached the phase of having its own creative space, a hub in one of the neighbourhoods outside of the centre of Split. It is a creative space established by and for the community. This space is people-centred, in constant evolution, and led by the local change-makers and provides everyone in the community the opportunity to culturally thrive.
Thus, a secondary aim of the European Heritage Volunteers Project will be to raise the visibility of Culture Hub Croatia’s space itself and of its surroundings. The research to be conducted would be a helpful tool to encourage the local community and visitors to join efforts with Culture Hub Croatia in shaping the city by developing its cultural offer while empowering young creatives and other members of the local community.
The project will take place from September, 15th, to September, 25th, 2021 and is organised by Culture Hub Croatia, in cooperation with European Heritage Volunteers.