Croatia // Split and the south Dalmatian coast //


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.

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