When we left Lucca, Italy for Split, Croatia the Younger Fives were pretty bummed to leave behind Lucca’s wall and the four nearby playgrounds. We actually chose to live in Lucca out of every other city in Italy because it had such a great play-space for children. Not many cities can compete with a pedestrian friendly wall encircling the entire city, peppered with well maintained playgrounds? However, now that we have visited Split’s Marjan we can safely say that it gives Lucca a run for its money.
The Marjan is a massive, forested hill that takes up the entire peninsula to the west of Split’s Old Town. To access the Marjan you start climbing sets of stairs that begin just off of the waterfront promenade. The kids had a blast racing each other up the stairs and looking back on Diocletian’s Palace from the scenic view points. However, they were completely amazed when we emerged into a Pine forest about half-way up the hill. The trees are huge, and we haven’t actually been in a forest since last march when we visited Sequoia National Park, so we were all giddy with excitement. As soon as the kids noticed the playground and three amazing climbing structures they were off like shots to spend the next hours playing under the trees.
We couldn’t have imagined how good it would feel to be back in a forest breathing clean air with no cars buzzing by, or noise from nearby roads. Lately we have been hard hit by how much we miss being out in nature. Even on Lucca’s wall we were always within eye sight of cars and trucks zooming past. However, on the Marjan it was so quiet, and the air was so clean that you wouldn’t believe that the city of Split was just a short distance away. It was hard for us to pull ourselves away, but finally we rallied the troops and finished climbing the last set of stairs to the top of the hill.
At the very top of the hill is a large observation area with amazing views of Split and the Mosor mountains to the North, and the Adriatic and nearby islands to the South. The top of the hill is know as the Telegrin (telegraph). It gets its name from the optical station of telegraph that Napoleon’s troops installed at the start of the 19th century. While the rest of our day included scrambling along the rocks and enjoying a picnic lunch we can’t wait to go back to discover the many other exciting treasures that this gem of a public park offers, including hermitage caves dating back to the 15th century. A visit to the Marjan will definitely become part of our weekly routine while we are here in Split.