Klis Fortress Croatia has played a significant part in history since the 2nd century BC. Due to its strategic position and defense system, it served well to those who have been ruling over that period. The fortress was under several rulers in the past.
Klis Fortress has a unique location on a 358-meter-high cliff with a great view of the nearby roads and the city. It was a great spot to control the valley that led to Split.
Klis Fortress is on a high cliff between Kozjak and Mosor mountains. From the fortress, three Roman roads lead to the inland of Dalmatia. A highly strategic location allowed military and trade control over the entire area, including Salona and Split. This strategic location determined the dramatic fortress's history.. Klis Fortress is one of the most significant places with many historical events that shaped the history of Dalmatia. Klis Fortress is the bearer of events from ancient times until today.
The Klis Fortress was built from antiquity to the 19th century during Venetian and Austro-Hungarian rule. Throughout history, Klis Fortress had numerous alterations and functions, residence, and defensive function. In the Middle Ages, it served as a lazaretto and lodging. The fortress is located at 358 altitudes, is 304 meters long, and 53 meters wide. It consists of three levels and three rings of walls. Each part has a separate entrance.
The main entrance is the Venetian Gate, followed by the second door leading to the medieval part and the third entrance leading to the residences for the weaponry manager. The most important stronghold in the western part is the Tower Oprah, and in the eastern area, the Bembo Bastion or Kružić tower. On the upper part of the fortress is the Prince’s residence and St.Vid’s Church. The church is well preserved. It used to be a Turkish mosque and one of the best surviving examples of Islamic architecture in Dalmatia. It is possible that this building was originally a medieval church. Thanks to research and restoration, the fortress shows its historical and cultural importance and a beautiful view of the whole of central Dalmatia as well.
During antiquity, Klis served as a military fort for the protection of Salona. Later, Klis Fortress changed its rulers and functions.The first inhabitants of the Klis fortress were the Illyrian tribe Delmati, but there are traces of Neolithic settlements.
During the 7th century, Avars and Slavs invaded this area. When they conquered Klis Fortress, which was in the hands of the Romans, it meant the fall of Salona. In the early Middle Ages, Klis was one the seats of Croatian dukes and kings, and they were crowned in this area. With the disappearance of the Kingdom of Croatia in the 12th century, Klis fell under the rule of Croatian-Hungarian kings. During the Tartar invasion, Bela IV took refuge in Klis.
In the 15th century, Klis found itself at the crossroads of three empires, the Ottoman Empire, the Venetian Republic, and the Habsburg Monarchy. In the 16th century, Klis Fortress resisted many Ottoman attacks for decades. Despite the long-standing defense of the Uskoks under the leadership of Petar Kružić, the Ottomans conquered Klis and ruled it for a century. After the Ottoman rule, the Venetians ruled until their downfall.
Later, Klis was under French control, part of Austro-Hungarians, and in the 20th century of Yugoslavia. From 1990 Klis is a part of the Republic of Croatia.
Illiryan and roman times
Traces of life and fortifications date back to pre-ancient times during the Illyrian period. In antiquity, the fortress was a Roman castrum. The nearby road led to the hinterland. On the site, there used to be a resting place for carriages. The fortress was an important point of defense of ancient Salona. The Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus also reflected the importance of this place. Somewhat later, in the 7th century, Salona disappeared after the arrival of the Avars and Slavs, who first invaded and conquered Klis.
Croatian dukes and kings
In the 9th century, Klis was the seat of Croatian princes and kings. In Trpimir's charter from 852 Klis is mentioned as one of the duke's estates and in the next seven centuries, it will change its ownership a number of times. It was under the rule of the Arpadović dynasty and by famous Croatian Šubić and Nelipić nobles and was also the seat of the Bosnian king Tvrtko. The fortress owners stood out during the Tatar invasion of the Hungarian-Croatian kingdom when they provided refuge to King Bela IV. in front of the hordes.
During the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, South Croatia was a battlefield against the Turks. In 1500, Turkish troops pushed through the Croatian territory to the city walls of Venetian towns Nin, Zadar, Šibenik, Trogir, and Split. The Turks felt more powerful and became oppressive after the fall of Klis, former Croatian capital and the last stronghold of the Croatian Kingdom south of Velebit.
Klis was the home of Uskoks, the military units that obtained their name because they jumped into enemy territory. The leader of Klis Uskoks was Petar Kružić, who defended the fortress against the Ottoman army for more than fifteen years. In 1513, Petar Kružić was already in Klis, performing military duty. Ottomans raised the first siege of Klis in 1515. Kružić was trying to get support for Klis defenders from other European Christian nations that were in greatest danger from Ottomans if Klis would fall. Since Klis was the royal town under the rule of the Croatian-Hungarian Kingdom, the Kružić and Klis defenders were in the service of the Croatian-Hungarian king. However, he would never get what he deserved and what was necessary for the defense. Only the Pope sent help from the Vatican to the Kružić and Klis defenders.
In 1537, Klis defenders faced a shortage of food and water, there was also little ammunition left in Klis, so the morale of the Kružić army became lower. Ottomans took all the water sources, and the water tanks in the fortress were not enough for people and horses. In further combat, Atli-aga killed Petra Kružić. After seeing their captain dead, Klis Uskoks were discouraged and decided to negotiate with the Ottomans. In 1537, the Turks conquered Klis despite the heroic defense of captain Petar Kružić. Afterwards, the Venetian Republic and the Turkish Empire continued to struggle. During the Candian War, Klis was liberated in 1648 by the Venetian general Foscolo.
Fortress in the present day
Nowadays, Klis Fortress is one of the most preserved fortresses in Central Dalmatia reconstructed with EU funds. The Klis Fortress opening hours are from 9:00 to 17:00 daily. The ticket includes a visit to Klis Fortress and the Ethno-agro park Stella Croatica. The ticket price is 60 kn for adults and 20 kn for children (up to 15 years).
Game of Thrones
The Game of Thrones scenes took place at the Klis Fortress. According to the HBO series script, Daenerys conquers the city of Meereen, which is situated inside the Klis Fortress.
Klis fortress is definitely worth a visit!
Except for the great view of Split, you can witness medieval fortress in great condition and one of the filming locations of Game of Thrones series. Moreover, you can learn interesting stories and facts about the Croatian history and Dalmatian plants in Stella Croatica, which is included in the price of ticket.
Visit usually takes 60 minutes.
You can go with your car, taxi and a local bus.
If you plan to go with your car, you should take one of the main roads heading out of the city in the direction of the airport. You will arrive on the big crossroads in Solin called Širina, where you should take a right turn towards the city center of Solin. After a drive through Solin the road leads you all the way to the Klis where you will be able to take a left turn to the area Klis Megdan and find two parking lots.
If you go with a bus, you should take number 22 from the station HNK (Croatian National Theater) and leave the bus at the last bus station called Klis Megdan.
Klis fortress has two parking lots in the area of Klis Megdan at the bottom of the fortress.
The Klis Fortress opening hours are from 9:00 to 17:00 daily.
The ticket price is 60 HRK for adults and 20 HRK for children (up to 15 years)