Posted by: viewfromtheriva | January 19, 2010

Split’s enduring Muslim community

Originally an old seminary, the Split mosque inside is a house of worship to about 200 Muslim families in Split. Like all mosques. the faithful come to pray 5 times a day

Inside, the old seminary has been converted into a typical mosque, with simple furnishings and carpeted throughout

While visiting the mosque and the community center I enjoyed some delicious Bosnian sweet pastry and strong traditional coffee

Split’s crown jewel may be its 1,700 year old Diocletian Palace but within the Palace some of the great religions of the world are all here and make a fascinating visit.

Within 100 meters of the Peristyl are one of the oldest Christian churches in the world, the third oldest synagogue in Europe, an orthodox Christian church (Serbian) inside a 14thC convent and Split’s only Muslim mosque.

Today I spent some time with Vahid ed. Hadzic, the imam of the Muslim community here.  An ebullient man in his late 30’s early 40’s, the imam shared traditional sweets and coffee as he explained the history of the community here.

To most Croatians, Muslims are associated with Turks, their fierce age-old enemies who finally defeated the Croats in 1536 at Klis and ruled the region until 1648.

But today’s Croatian Muslims are mostly from Bosnia.  They represent about 1% of the population, 95% of which is Roman Catholic.

In addition to Bosnia, the Muslims here also come from Albania, Macedonia and Egypt.  There are very few from Turkey.  In the Dalmatian area there are about 1,500 Muslims, in Split itself only about 200 families are active.

Mr. Hadzic was formerly the imam in Pula, in Istria.  Most of the Muslim community in Croatia is centered in Osijek, Pula, Zagreb and Dubrovnik, he said.  Like the Jewish community here, the Muslim community also has a cultural center where members can meet, have some food and enjoy each others company.

The mosque itself is inside an old seminary building a short walk from the city’s Fish Market that has been converted into a place of prayer,  It’s used five times each day in accordance with the teachings of the Koran.

Although low-key, the Split Muslim community is anxious to share its cultural heritage with locals and tourists alike.  This summer the imam is planning to create a multi-lingual brochure.  Inshallah (“God willing” in Arabic), his hope is to foster tolerance and celebrate the values and traditions of what Christianity, Judaism and Islam all have in common.

Enjoy our new Croatian vacation portal

Read more about Croatia at secret dalmatia’s unique blog

The Islamic Center is within the Palace and has a community room and offices


  1. Great post!

  2. […] Originally posted here: Split's enduring Muslim community « View from the Riva–Split Croatia […]

  3. It is so nice and heartening to see this post. I as a Muslim would love one day to come here and pray in the masjid (mosque) inside the Palace!

    Thank you for your wonderful post.

    With Love from Pakistan.

  4. I’m so dissappointed that countries like Croatia are allowing islam to spread in Split. I want to see a Dalmatian culture, not foreign cultures. A shame.

    • Michael

      I’m sad that you feel that the existence of a mosque in Split somehow threatens anyone. This part of the Balkans has never been dominated by one people or one religion since the time of the Romans. To my mind, the Muslims, Jews and Orthodox Christians here only enrich life in Dalmatia.

      • I have received a second message from Michael, whose e mail return address is fake. I have chosen not to post it because his comments about Islam are uninformed and blatantly racist.

  5. Sorry,

    I saw Michaels comments and agree with parts of his posts.
    It seemed like it could have developed into an interesting discourse.

    • Dear Nick, Michael’s clever attempts to sound reasonable, weaving history and culture together to somehow convince people that Croatia and the Balkans exist as a bulwark against Islam and that today’s Muslims in Croatia pose a threat to the spread of Dalmatian culture is preposterous. Like Jews, Muslims are not particularly interested in aggressive conversion of the masses. This has been a hallmark of Christianity however, and there seems to be be few people complaining about this. Michael’s myopic view of history does not include what happened in Croatia during the Second World War where the official government-sanctioned policy was to ethnically cleanse Jews, Muslims and other minorities. Today Croatia is 95% Catholic and it is clear that despite this overwhelming majority, Michael still feels threatened. What is sad is that by using a fake e mail and sounding “intelligent”, Michael’s kind of racism comes across as acceptable. It is not and not standing up and defending the rights of others dooms us all to live like lemmings–waiting for the next nationalist to surface claiming the ills of the world are due to this or that religion.

  6. I wonder what “Dalmatian culture” means…? Isn´t it an agglutinated form of culture of immigrants…? So why would someone whose ancestors are immigrants as well long for a Dalmatian culture? Wouldn´t that basicly mean that this person would have to go back to where his family came from ages ago?

  7. Well Dalmatia is Croatia, so I guess Croatian culture would be the interpretation.

  8. […] While the Catholic faith dominates, there are some surprising gems to be found in Split from other faiths, including Split’s rich Jewish heritage and probably the most surprising discover in Diocletian’s Palace – a fully functioning mosque, about which Robert Aronson wrote very well on his blog. […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: