There were three temples in Diocletian's Palace, located in its western section, opposite to the Emperor's Mausoleum. The main temple is the temple of Jupiter. In front of the temple of Jupiter there were two more temples, circular in ground-plan, the temple of Venus and the temple of Cybele. The temple of Cybele and the temple of Venus do not exist today.
Inside the Luxor cafe, there is a well preserved medieval loggia. The base of the Temple of Venus is marked by circular marble floor just as you enter. See map, please.
Temple of Jupiter
The Temple of Jupiter (in Croatian: Jupiterov hram) is a temple in Split, Croatia, dedicated to Jupiter, the Ancient Roman god of sky and thunder and the king of gods. It is located in the western part of Diocletian's Palace, near the Peristyle, the central square of the imperial complex. It was built from 295 until 305 AD, during the construction of the Palace, and was probably turned into Baptistery of St. John the Baptist in the 6th century AD, at the same time when the crypt dedicated to St. Thomas was built. In front of the entrance to the Temple there is one of the twelve sphinxes brought from Egypt, as ordered by Diocletian.
The temple of Jupiter was constructed from 295 to 305 AD, as part of Diocletian's Palace. It was dedicated to the supreme Roman god and Diocletian's divine father, Jupiter. The temple is located in the western, religious part of the edifice. Since the Emperor unexpectedly abdicated the throne in year 305 AD and arrived at the palace from Nicomedia, finishing work on construction of the Palace was stopped, therefore parts of the Temple remained unfinished.
In front of the Temple, above the entrance, there is a relief depicting gods and various heroes, such as Victoria, Triton, Helios, Hercules, Jupiter and Apollo. Doorways are richly decorated, especially the impressive barrel coffered vault of the Temple.
Inside the Temple there are sarcophagi in which two Archbishops of Split, Ivan of Ravenna (died c. 10) and Lovre (died c. 1099), were buried.
In addition, there is a large bronze statue of St. John the Baptist made by Ivan Meštrović.
A Renaissance sarcophagus of Jakov Selembrije from the 16th century is placed in front of the baptistery.
In the 11th century, a Romanesque style bell tower was built above the vault. It is similar to the one in the Church of Our Lady of the Tower above the Iron Gate of Diocletian's Palace, which was demolished around 1840, in accordance with the classicist aspirations of the time, which argued for purification of ancient monuments and buildings.
During the late Antiquity and the Middle Ages the temple was converted into a baptistery dedicated to St. John the Baptist, while the crypt was dedicated to St. Thomas.
In the 13th century, the baptismal font made of parts of the altar partition from the 11th century, which was originally located in the Cathedral, was placed within the baptistery. The oldest representation of Croatian king Peter Krešimir IV or Demetrius Zvonimir with their subjects is engraved on one of the marble rood screens.
The second rood screen is decorated with pentagram with flowers and birds inside a star that is surrounded by a wreath which represents the Holy Trinity and the two natures of Jesus Christ - the divine and the human. The third rood screen is decorated with motifs of Croatian interlace in various forms.
Barrel coffered vault of the Temple influenced Dalmatian early Renaissance art which is best seen in the example of Andrea Alessi's baptistery and Chapel of blessed John in Trogir.
In the year 1907, a few houses on the west and south side of the Temple were demolished, so the Temple was freed of fittings, except those in the northwest corner, that are still leaning against it.
Scottish architect Robert Adam considered this temple to be one of Europe's most beautiful monuments.
The Baptistery is open for visitors, with a entrance fee.