The town of KLIS grew up around a strategic mountain pass linking the coast with the hinterland of the Zagora. The steep rock pinnacle around which the modern town huddles was first fortified by the Romans before being taken over by the expanding medieval kingdom of the Croats; kings Mislav (835–45) and Trpimir (845–64) both based their courts here. Klis remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands until the sixteenth century, when the Turks, already in command of Bosnia, began pushing towards the coast. Commanded by Captain Petar Kružić, Klis withstood sieges in 1526 and 1536, but finally succumbed to Ottoman attack in 1537, when attempts to relieve the citadel ended in failure. Kružić himself – who had left the fortress to make contact with the hapless reinforcements – was captured and executed; the sight of his head on a stick was too much for Klis’s remaining defenders, who gave up the fortress in return for safe passage north, where they resumed the struggle from the security of Senj.
The present-day town straggles up the hillside beneath the fortress and is divided into three parts: Klis-Varoš, on the main road below the fortress; Klis-Grlo, at the top of the hill where the Drniš and Sinj roads part company; and Klis-Megdan, off to one side, where you’ll find the main gate to the site.Read More
The fortress (tvrđava) is a remarkably complete structure, with three long, rectangular defensive lines surrounding a central strongpoint, the Položaj maggiore (Grand Position, a mixed Croatian–Italian term dating from the time when Leonardo Foscolo captured the fortress for the Venetians in 1648), at its eastern end. There’s no real museum display and very little labelling, but the fortress interior is immediately impressive, with cobbled walkways zigzagging their way up through a succession of towered gateways. You can peek inside several dusty storehouses, barrack blocks and – near the fortress’s highest point – an ancient stone chapel that briefly served as a mosque during the Ottoman occupation. The views from the walls are truly breathtaking, with the marching tower blocks and busy arterial roads of suburban Split sprawling across the plain below, and the islands of Šolta and Brač in the distance.