If you’re not a big fan of ancient strongholds, medieval fortresses and all kinds of fortifications, you would probably never find yourself visiting the Klis fortress (“Kliška Tvrđava” in Croatian) which is located outside of Split in Croatia. But what if we tell you that there’s much more than just a handful of massive stones, few cannons and ramparts over there. The fact that the fortress appeared in the world-renowned American TV series “Game of Thrones” is a bonus fact.
The mighty site between Kozjak and Mosor mountains where the fortress peacefully rests today has been a place of real historical drama. During almost all time of its existence the Klis fortress has been a major defense point located on a mountain passage overlooking Split.
The citadel has witnessed how different empires, nations, peoples seized the land over here. Among those who conquered or made an attempt to do so were the Romans and the Slavs, Ottomans and Venetians, Austro-Hungarians and in more modern times – Italian and German troops. It was during the World War II when the Klis fortress was used for the purpose intended for the last time.
The stronghold is a well preserved citadel despite all the crucial battles, seizures, and combats over centuries. It is not easy to define when exactly a fortress was built here. Historical facts differ. Some claim that first records of a defense site appeared at the beginning of the seventh centuries. Others affirm that the first known inhabitants of this area, who were the Illyrians of Dalmatia, felt the need of a strong fortification structure which would protect their land. And this was in the second century B.C. Right now the highest tower of the Klis fortress proudly holds a flagpole with Croatian national colors of red, blue and white on top of it.
If you’re a “Game of Thrones” fan, you won’t hesitate for a minute whether to visit this place or no. In about a 20-minutes ride north of Split you’ll be standing on top of a rugged mountain hill with most amazing views at the winding Dalmatian coast of Croatia, the Adriatic Sea, and several islands.
When you are about to enter the fortress, you think it’s a miniature structure. However, in reality it’s quite huge. One of the biggest advantages of this place, where you’ll be feeling yourself as a part of an endless adventure and a discovery, is that you can peacefully and freely walk around the fortress, its different levels, visit a small church or a museum with arms over there, take photographs from the best panoramic grounds, and almost no one will be bothering you. There are no guardians at the site except a person who peacefully sits at the entrance of the fortress and issues entering tickets, neither you’ll meet crowds of visitors there. Many think that it’s a hard location to reach, which is not true. Plus, from a distance the Klis fortress isn’t visible to attract attention, which probably was a big advantage during the restless times.
The fortress is visited mostly by “Game of Thrones” fans and real enthusiasts who always look for the off the beaten paths. In the TV series the Klis fortress appeared as a city of Meereen in the season 4. If you watch episodes where Daenerys was into seizing the city and freeing slaves, you’ll recognize a citadel.
Please, keep in mind that the fortress is very old. And despite being ‘in good shape”, mind your steps as you explore. Somewhere it can get slippery.
It would be very charming to meet the sunset during your visit at the Klis fortress, however it is not open late in the evening. The citadel works every day except Monday from ten o’clock in the morning until four in the afternoon.
The fortress didn’t always look as it does today. There are no visual records of its original appearance. The stronghold started as a small citadel and developed into a massive structure. At some point in its history the fortress also served as an adobe to the royals.
You’ll also enjoy the road which takes you to the fortress. You will pass by suburbs of Split which are very different from what the old town has to offer to its visitors. Plus, the are several villages on the way with spectacular nature, ancient aqueduct, cute villas and households, specked with fields of flowers and grain-crops. So a trip which would last approximately one hour and a half all ın total, could leave you heaps of wonderful memories.