Located above Klis village, near the city of Split, Klis Fortress originated as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae around 2,000 years ago.
Discover what once was a very important strategic point in the history of Croatia, defending Dalmatia from Eastern invasions by the Tatars (Mongols) and the Turks. Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times throughout its more-than-two-thousand-year-long history. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear. It developed from a small stronghold to a royal castle and finally to a large fortress during the Ottoman wars. In a nutshell, Klis' history goes like this: founded by the Illyrians in the 2nd century BC; taken by the Romans; became a stronghold of medieval Croatian duke Trpimir; resisted attacks for 25 years before falling to the Ottomans in 1537; briefly retaken in 1596; and finally fell to the Venetians in 1648.
Location and structure
Barely discernible from a distance as a man-made structure, Klis fortress was built into the south face of a rocky mass. Perched on an isolated rocky eminence, inaccessible on three sides, the fortress overlooks and controls Split's valley. This imposing fortress spreads along a limestone bluff, reaching 385 meters at its highest point. Its long and narrow form (304 by 53 meters) derives from constant extensions over the course of millenniums. The defensive capabilities of the fortress have been tested through history in many military operations. During the centuries of its use, the structure served various armies and has undergone several renovations, to keep up with the development of arms. The original appearance of the fortress is thus no longer known.
A tourist attraction
The present-day aspect of a mostly stone fortress dates back to the restructuring work carried out by the Venetians in the 17th century. Inside, you can climb over the fortifications and visit the small museum, which displays swords and costumes and together with detailed information on the castle's brutal past. It's a fun place to visit for kids too, and you can easily spend a few hours walking around the fortifications and reliving the history of the fortress. There is a small church in the perimeters of the fortress. According to the locals, the fortress is never crowded and is a nice break away from the buzzing coastal towns.
Game of Thrones filming location
Game of Thrones fans will probably recognize the fortress as Meereen, where Daenerys Targaryen had all those slave masters crucified in the fourth season. If you're having trouble visualizing it, there's a room with props from the show to jog your memory.
Whether you are a Game of Thrones fan, a history lover, or just on the lookout for authentic Croatian experiences, Klis fortress will not disappoint you. The rugged beauty of the fortress and the stunning views it offers impresses even experienced travelers.