Robert Adam and Diocletian's Palace in Split
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Robert Adam and Diocletian's Palace in Split

When the Scottish architect Robert Adam travelled from Rome to Split in 1757 to study Diocletian’s Palace, he expected to find a monumental Roman villa. Instead, he came across an exceptional late antique structure that, in the Middle Ages, had been transformed into a city.

Robert Adam and Diocletian's Palace in Split

Adam turned his study of this monument into an original architectural theory, and, in London in 1764, it was published in one of the most beautiful books of the eighteenth century: Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia.

The lessons Adam grasped in Split also inspired his own architectural projects in England and Scotland, influencing, in part, the “Adam Style”, a specific neoclassical style that had a significant impact on European and American architecture. We find the imprint of Diocletian’s Palace as an architectural and urban design model everywhere in Adam’s projects, from the scale of the ornamentation (a famous example is his interpretation of the capital from Diocletian’s Peristyle) to the application of the specificities of its spatial construction.

In 2014, a group of scholars gathered in Split to mark the 250th anniversary of the publication of Adam’s book, and a series of essays developed out of their discussions. Their texts are illustrated with more than two hundred images, some of which are being published for the first time, from numerous archives and museums, from Sir John Soane’s Museum in London to the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.


Školska knjiga, d.d. & Institute of Art History

Academic Editors

Joško Belamarić, Ana Šverko