Posted by: viewfromtheriva | January 29, 2011

The Night of the Museums!

Every January a number of cities in Croatia host a Free Museum Night, and between 6 and midnight, all of the museums are open free to the public. So we took the opportunity of going to the Split Maritime Museum, located inside  the ramparts of the  Gripe Fort–north of the Green Market, overlooking the Split Harbor


One of many brass, wooden and other wheelhouse memorabilia

Much to our surprise, even as late as 10PM,  the place was absolutely packed. Kids, families, seniors–just a ton of people enjoying many rooms filled with maritime memorabilia; including Roman and Greek amphorae from the second century BC.

Although illegal to bring to the surface for personal use, the islands off Split still have plenty of amphorae yet to be found–but this collection was the most I’ve seen since Tanais in Russia.

(A brief, but hopefully interesting digression.  Now a UNESCO site, but rarely visited, Tanias is a stupendous archeologicial site in southern Russia, just outside the city of Rostov on Don.  Founded in the first quarter of the 3rd century BC by Greek colonists, it quickly developed as one of the most important trading stations for Mediterranean commerce as well as for trade deep into northern barbarian hinterlands.  It has a collection of hundreds of amphorae which scholars come to study because amphorae can be “typed” to reveal not only their purpose but where and when they were made…and by whom, since many are signed with the maker’s mark.   So Tanais’ amphorae are like an ancient GPS system that allows scholars to understand what was traded, from where and when.)

The Maritime Museum was packed!

In addition to a lot of ships models (some as long as 10 feet!), old Navy uniforms, torpedoes and other ordinance, there were old posters, Panama Canal documentation tickets, collections of sea lanterns, block and tackle, 19thC paintings and maps of Split and the surrounding area from way back.

Ancient amphorae, used to transport olive oil, wine and other goods, some as old as second century BC!

Although there is a second floor to the museum,  it was closed.  But despite the crowds pressed into the downstairs rooms, everyone seemed to be having a grand time, using their phones to take photos and oohing and aahing over various exhibits.

Old brass lanterns, block and tackle and other nautical memorabilia filled the walls

A lot of our friends make the night into a Museum-hopping adventure, but we had a long day and only managed to get to the Maritime Museum, which we haven’t seen despite living here for several years.  For many families, a chance to get to see the Mestrovic Gallery, Ethnographic Museum, Archeology Museum and others which normally charge $4-5 to get in, was a real treat and it was great to see the town abuzz with so many people.

An early 1900's poster featuring ocean liners with Dalmatian names

Enjoy our new Croatian vacation portal

Read more about Croatia at secret dalmatia’s unique blog

Coming to Split?



  1. hi Robert,

    a tip to people who want to read about archeological sites and places:
    “The practical guide to Croatia’s archeological sites” isbn 978-953-55077-0-3.
    the book is written by Ante Susnjara and costs 120 kuna.

    a “must have” for people who want to discover the less known locations together with the well known, planning to have a trip into the zagora to look and see themselves.

    if needed I can deliver you Ante’s mail and mobitel.

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