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It is believed that the foundations for the port of Split were laid during the time when Salona was a city of Dalmatian Illyrians. This former thriving seaport in a favourable geographic position on the eastern Adriatic coast which had attracted Greek sailors and merchants was later conquered by the Romans while expanding their empire.
The Split of the 12th century, due to its geographic position, had a developed land trade by caravan routes as well as maritime trade through its port. Split is one of the few cities that had roads leading to the hinterland enabling a combination of land and maritime trade and transport.
In the eighties and nineties of the 19th century, the traffic in the port of Split sharply increased due to the phylloxera-disease-devastated French vineyards, and there was a great demand for Dalmatian wine. At the same time a railway was built, which in 1925 was connected to the Rijeka-Zagreb railway via Gospić, thus connecting Split with the continental centres.
The port of Split reached its peak in cargo transhipment in 1988, when about 2 million tons were transhipped in the Split port basin. In the northern port alone the port company transhipped 835,000 tons of various goods.