Biography of Antonio Bajamonti, Mayor of Split

Mayor of Split for nearly 20 years, in Dalmatia Croatia (Hrvatska)

Antonio Bajamonti, of Italian heritage, was a medical doctor by profession.  He was responsible for building the Croatian National Theater (HNK), the Prokurative (below), running water, gas lighting, a monumental fountain, and much more.
Antonio Bajamonti, of Italian heritage, was a medical doctor by profession. He was responsible for building the Croatian National Theater (HNK), the Prokurative (below), running water, gas lighting, a monumental fountain, and much more.

The Renaissance Styled Prokurative or Square of the Republic of Croatia

The beautiful, stately Prokurative.  On the left side of the square is the Hotel Bellevue.  Direct in the center (red colored) is the former Croatian National Theater (HNK).  To the right is the accredited Centar for Foreign Language (CSJ).
The beautiful, stately Prokurative. On the left side of the square is the Hotel Bellevue. Direct in the center (red colored) is the former Croatian National Theater (HNK). To the right is the accredited Centar for Foreign Language (CSJ).

The Croatian Theater in Split as it looks today

inside...
inside...
and out... :)  With figurative decorations by Ivan Mestrović, it is a cultural landmark.  The new theater was opened in 1893 and is in use today.
and out... :) With figurative decorations by Ivan Mestrović, it is a cultural landmark. The new theater was opened in 1893 and is in use today.

Born in Croatia - one of Split's best Mayors

Who was Antonio Bajamonti?

Antonio Bajamonti was one of Split's best mayors. Not unlike the Diocletian (former Roman Emperor who built the Palace, later to be known as Split), his administration ruled the city practically 20 years. Born on 19 February, 1822 in Split, his family was of Italian heritage. (His father was Giuseppe Bajamonti, Cancelliere Pretoriale di Vis and his mother was Helena Candido of Šibenik.) Never quite accepted by the Croatian people and treated as an outsider, he did more for the city than many other mayors. His famous uncle, Julijo, wrote the first Croatian opera and is ceremoniously buried in St. Katherine of Alexandria's Dominican Church (known better at St. Dominick's) which is located directly in front of the Silver Gate to the Palace.

Professional Doctor and Politician

A medical doctor by profession, Bajamonte he completed his medical training in the nearby city of Sinj (SEENyh) which is the home of the Turk inspired Alca. The horseback rider must lance the spear through a tiny circular target as a contest of valor and horseback riding skill.

Mayor of Split

From 1860 - 1880, he served twenty years as the mayor of Split, Croatia's second largest and second most important city. Largely responsible for many civil and cultural improvements to the city, he was responsible for building the city's first theater. (An earlier opera house had been built in the 15th century but was limited in scale to this spacious, modern version.)

The new theater contained then-revolutionary gas lights, the first of their type to be used in the city of Split.

At this point, he began a new project, re-establishing the Diocletian's ancient aqueduct. The third century aqueduct brought runoff from the snowcovered mountains outside of Split, originating in the then ancient metropolis of Salona. Now in ruins, it contains an amphitheater of 15,000 seats, which lead archeologists to estimate the city's ancient population at 60,000 residents in the 1st century! Long in disrepair, Bajamanti took the initiative to repair and improve upon the ancient, now functioning water system and built a fantastic decorative fountain, which became a great source of civic pride.

Tenure

He received great support from the citizens of Split throughout his tenure, but as time went on, the public began to be restless for a "native son". Because of his Italian heritage, he was never fully accepted as a true "son of Split".

Uncle Julio

Antonio Bajamonti is related to another famous Bajamonti, his uncle (father's brother) Julijo Bajamonte. Like nephew Antonio, Julio was also a medical doctor but was best known for his musical compositions. He is best known for writing the first Croatian Opera. He lived from 1744-1800 in Split and is buried at St. Dominik's church in the Split Pazaar, not far from the historical Eastern Door (Silver Gate) to the Diocletian's Palace.

Personal Life

Except for his college education, which he completed in Padua, Italy, Antonio Bajamonti lived all his life in Croatia along the Dalmatian coast. At 27 years of age, he married a Croatian woman, Alojzija Kruševic.

Obscurity

Except for a brief interlude between 1864 and 1865, Bajamonti spent two decades serving as mayor of Split. He died on January 13, 1891, at 68 years old. Incidentally, not unlike the Diocletian, he died at the very same age, also in obscurity and nearly penniless, after building, investing and dedicating his life to Split, the city he loved.

Gas Lighting / HydroElectric Power

Bajamonti - Forward Thinker

Gas lighting was very modern in the 19th century. Around the same time, electrical power generation was accomplished through the force of water flowing at Krk Waterfalls.

The nearby city of Šibenik (Shib-en-nick) was the first city in the world to have electrical lighting due to hydro-electric power. The Krk HydroElectric Power Plant was opened just a few days after Edison succeeded in harnessing the power of Niagara Falls in the US with the help of Croatian born and education Nikola Tesla, his valued assistant.

Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla at age 34, scanned from a photograph taken in (around) 1890.  Educated in Croatia, Tesla is of Serbian heritage.
Nikola Tesla at age 34, scanned from a photograph taken in (around) 1890. Educated in Croatia, Tesla is of Serbian heritage. | Source

Bajamonte's Fountain - Before and After WWII

The breathtakingly beautiful fountain display at the end of the Split Riva.  In 1947 it was torn down by anti-Fascist demonstrators (Bajamonti was not a fascist...).
The breathtakingly beautiful fountain display at the end of the Split Riva. In 1947 it was torn down by anti-Fascist demonstrators (Bajamonti was not a fascist...).
What the fountain looks like today (from a different perspective) facing Marijan Hill.  The red building behind the fountain is the former Bajamonti Palace, which he sold to settle debts, to the Dušković family, another prominent name in Split.
What the fountain looks like today (from a different perspective) facing Marijan Hill. The red building behind the fountain is the former Bajamonti Palace, which he sold to settle debts, to the Dušković family, another prominent name in Split.

New and Improved Water System

Now that Bajamonti was mayor, he reconstructed the Diocletian's old waterworks system. This meant running water for the citizens of Split.

Building the beautiful Prokurativa in the Renaissance style, Bajamonti set up many galleries around the square. He wanted to give the citizens of Split a source of civic pride and culture.

At the foot of the Prokurative, he designed a beautiful (some say "monumental") fountain. It was truly spectacular (see photo).

As political tide turned towards a Split "national" candidate, Bajamonti was replaced as mayor. After losing the election to Dujam Rendić Miočević, a prominent Split lawyer, Bajamonti retired from public life. Never inactive, he instituted the Dalmatian Society in 1886.

The fountain was put up for the second time in 1891. It was later named after him. Only three months later, Bajamonti died. The fountain was destroyed in 1947 by city authorities, claiming it to be "fascist". Antonio Bajamonti had never been a fascist. He was only guilty of being a loyal Split citizen of Italian heritage.

Bajamonti's for Lunch on the Prokurative

Seafood pasta for lunch at Bajamonti's a top rated restaurant at the far end of the Prokurative. It was named after the former mayor, Antonio Bajamonti, and is located in the former theater which he built with his own funds.
Seafood pasta for lunch at Bajamonti's a top rated restaurant at the far end of the Prokurative. It was named after the former mayor, Antonio Bajamonti, and is located in the former theater which he built with his own funds.

Delicious and Authentic Dining

Bajamonti' had the last Laugh

Bajamonti's Restaurant is located in the former theater that he built with his own funds. These days, it is a very popular Split restaurant. The design is continental and the menu is contemporary. On the weekend, it is completely packed. Somewhat pricey but not outrageous, it has been rated as the #3 of approximately 74 restaurants within the city proper.

Another Bajamont


Nearest to the ancient Western Gate or Iron Gate, there is another (very popular) restaurant named after Bajamont. Bajamont Trattoria, located on Bajamont Street has the mix of catering to tourists while retaining the local identity. Quality food and wine with fair to good prices. As a tourist guide, I take great pleasure in recommending to my guests this (so far 100% positive) pearl of a restaurant below the ancient limestone arches of the Palace!

Split, Croatia

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