What Happened to Split?

Admittedly I wasn’t blown away from Split in Croatia the first time I was there a year ago. I stayed two days and saw most of what there is to see, which is the old town, Diocletian’s Palace, museums, and some of the outlying town. It was all right, but I wouldn’t really rave about it. The amount of grafitti that littered the place was unbearable and it was a very dirty town. Needless to say, going from there to Dubrovnik was a pretty impressive change.
Now that I’ve seen it a year later, I’m not only let down, but a little sad. The Diocletian’s Palace has become nothing more than a shopping mall inserted in to a 1,700 year old structure and the town itself is all but dead. Honestly, I think that there was more life in Rovinj and that was 1/8th the size.
I can’t really pin my finger on what it is that’s gone bad there, but I guess it has something to do with being over-touristed. Since Split was spared all the evil of war that Dubrovnik saw, it recovered quickly, but recovered to what? It’s just a spot on the Adriatic now that people wander through. It’s like there’s no point to the place. There certainly aren’t any beaches directly in town that are any good and as you start walking out of town, it gets very commercialized very quickly, the old homes fading to Socialist-era apartment buildings with laundry out the windows.
I certainly wouldn’t say it was the low point on my trip (that was probably Trieste) but at the same time, it doesn’t have any lustre to it. It seems like it has given up, forgotten what defines it to grab on to the tourism money that flows through. Croatian friends say that there is a large drug problem there now and that might be part of the problem, but you don’t really see it as someone just visiting the town. All I can say is that its just really sad. I hope the same fate isn’t waiting to befall Dubrovnik and the rest of the coast.