The Basement Halls

Ground-plan of the basement in Diocletian's Palace

The Basement Halls

The basement hall of Diocletian's Palace with vaulted ceiling

The Basement Halls

Photo of the basement halls showing vaulted ceilings, among the best preserved Roman structures nowadays

The ground - floor halls and the corridors of Diocletian's Palace (more commonly called the Basement), which can be reached either by a gate leading from the water-front or by the steps leading from Peristyle, the central square of the Palace, were originally the supporting substructure of the Emperor's residential quarters, and, consequently, they reflect the layout of the upper floor. In fact, the layout of the basement halls is an identical projection of the upper-floor halls. The basement substructure enabled the elevation of the Emperor's Palace above the sea level, so the big porch of the southern façade could be adequately exposed to the sun and summer breeze. The whole space of the substructure has not been changed throughout the past centuries; only few interventions have been virtually made there, e.g some partition walls were either erected or pulled down.

The basement halls were used for various practical purposes, so the press, probably used either for grapes or olives, dating back to the early Middle Ages, has been preserved until the present day.

Since the city was developing above the substructure level , the basement halls were gradually being filled up with debris and other waste material, and, so they became inaccessible in the course of time. Some fifty years ago, the more comprehensive and more systematic works of cleaning and rehabilitation of the substructure were started. Therefore, the substructure space is nowadays being used as the site for different activities i.e. exhibitions, concerts, theater performances, trade fairs etc. The large central hall in the axis of the Palace is an important urban communication passage, as it connects the waterfront with Peristyle.