In ancient times Emperor Diocletian built his palace a few minutes walk from Marjan. This opulent palace-city was actually inhabited by up to 8,000 to 10,000 people,1 who required parks and recreation space, Diocletian therefore organized some areas of Marjan nearer to the palace as a park.2 There is also a small rustic 13th century AD church situated on Marjan Hill.3
Marjan has become a symbol of Split in the last century and a half, before that it was considered an ordinary part of the landscape. As the city grew, however, it was left out because of its rocky and difficult terrain, and became, in effect, a part of the wilderness next to the very center of the city. Soon the citizens started to frequent it as a picnic spot and a romantic retreat, its many beaches adding to its popularity as well.
The hill was intensively forested (large parts of it were barren until then), many recreational facilities were built, including jogging tracks, a road system encircling the peninsula, a maritime research institute, Mediterranean Institute for Life Sciences MedILS, the Split City Zoo (now fallen into disrepair), botanical garden, and a water pipeline reaching all the way to the top of the hill. The authorities also constructed the city weather station and two “vidilice”, or “look-out points”, as resting places connected with a long stairway all the way to the Diocletian’s Palace, the “Riva” promenade and the rest of the city center.