Golden Gates, locally known as Zlatna Vrata, are the northern gates of Split’s Diocletian’s Palace. Because of their location, vertical to the peristyle and the protyron — the main entrance to the emperor’s private quarters, and due to their sophisticated architectural details, it is generally assumed that they originally function as the main, ceremonial entrance-ways to the imperial palace. The facade of the gates was decorated with shallow niches, thought to have contained the figures of the four tetrarchs: Diocletian and his co-ruler Maximian, as well as their caesars Galerius and Constantius Chlorus, with the imperial eagle, the symbol of Rome, thought to have been standing in the center.
After Diocletian’s death in 311/2, the palace became a possession of Roman emperors and is thought to have remained so up to the early medieval period, perhaps as late as the seventh century. It was sometimes in this period that the Golden Gates were walled in, together with the eastern ‘Silver Gates’, in an effort to increase the defensibility of the city, leaving only the western ‘Iron Gates’ in operation. The northern gates would remain walled up until the nineteenth century, when they were first excavated, reopened and restored.
Today, they are one of the most popular touristic sites in town, and a must-see stop for every visitor to Split.