Klis Fortress – A Croatian Pride (History & Travel Tips)

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With an astounding history of 2000 years, Klis Fortress is a prominent historical monument in Croatian history. Emerging as a small stronghold, the fortress served as a strategic defense against foreign invasions for millennia. Klis Fortress also found its fame as a filming site for the popular TV show, Game of Thrones.

Whether you stumbled upon this castle from watching the show, are interested in exploring the castle’s history, or are looking forward to visiting the castle, we have you all covered. In this article, you will get all the desired information, including the history of the castle, some interesting facts that make Klis stand out among the Croatian fortresses, and details concerning the ticket price and visiting hours of the castle. 

Local nobles attempted to take over Klis Fortress after the Ottomans seized control, but their success only lasted for weeks.

The ruins at Klis Fortress.
The ruins at Klis Fortress. Klis Fortress flickr photo by oatsy40 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
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Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Early Construction of Klis Fortress (2nd Century)

According to historians, Klis Fortress is believed to be first constructed around 2000 years ago by the ancient Illyrian tribe named Dalmatae as a small defense hold. The hold strengthened the resistance points against the Mongolian invasions since the fortress was built on the pass separating the mountains of Mosor and Kozjak.

Conversion of Klis Fortress into a stronghold for Illyrians and Romans

After the defeat of the Dalmatae tribe by Romans during 9 AD, they turned Klis Fortress into Rome’s Anderium. The fortress soon became a stronghold of the Roman Empire, as it formed the conjunction point between Salona and Tiberius. The inscriptions sketched on the fortress walls symbolize the glory that the fortress enjoyed during the Roman Empire period. 

A map of the Klis Fortress area–at that time known as Clissa–from the 14th century.
A map of the Klis Fortress area–at that time known as Clissa–from the 14th century.

Overtaking of the Fortress by the Barbarians (6th century)

Following the fall of the Roman Empire, Klis was conquered by Croats during the sixth century, and the fortress became a part of the Byzantine Empire. A shift also followed the shift of power in the strategic significance of the Klis Fortress. During the Byzantine period, Klis Fortress lost its geopolitical significance and became vulnerable to foreign attack

Conversion of Klis Fortress into a Royal Castle (7th century)

At the beginning of the seventh century, the castle regained its lost political significance, when it became the throne seat for many of Croatia’s rulers. Croatian duke Mislav of the Duty of Croatia made the fortress into his royal seat, where it continued to serve the same purpose for the coming few centuries. Around the 12th century, with the downfall of the native Croatian royal family, the castle came under the governance of the Hungarian king.

St. Vid Church at Klis Fortress.
St. Vid Church at Klis Fortress. SchiDD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Standing at the Cross Roads of Three Greatest Empires of the Time (15th to 17th Century) 

Klis Fortress became prominent around the 15th century when it found itself at the crossroads of three great empires: the Ottoman Empire, the Venetian Republic, and the Habsburg Monarchy. The fortress remained a region of conflict between the three empires, each trying to overtake the hold of the fortress to strengthen their defense. Venetians expanded the fortress by building an inner armory for the local warriors to use as a fortress’s defense. 

The fortress remained undefeated for twenty years but eventually fell into Turkish hands in 1537. Turks continued their rule over Klis Fortress for the coming century. Venetians made several attempts around this time to take over the fortress, but their efforts ended in vain. 

The staircase inside Klis Fortress going to the castle tower.
The staircase inside Klis Fortress going to the castle tower. Jules Verne Times Two / www.julesvernex2.com, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Role of Klis Fortress during War of Candia (18th Century)

Before falling to ruins, the last key role served by Klis Fortress was during the War of Candia that broke out between the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire. After a series of blood baths, Venetians took hold of the castle. 

Artistic representation of the War of Candia, 1797.
Artistic representation of the War of Candia, 1797. Oton Iveković, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The War of Candia was the last battle fought in and around Klis. The fortress remained under the Venetians till 1797 when it came under French rule. The fall of the French empire transferred the castle’s ownership to the Habsburg monarchy. The fortress became a part of the Croatian republic in 1990 when the flag of the Republic of Croatia was flown over it.

Current Times

The present-day Klis Fortress is a valuable heritage of Croatia, with its surviving architecture narrating the millennia-long history of the castle. You can walk through the ancient ramps and the castle halls that bear the influences of the empires that reigned over it. The castle museum is full of arms, armor, weapons, and traditional uniforms reflecting the glamor and glory of Klis Fortress across the centuries. 

Klis Fortress at sunset.
Klis Fortress at sunset. Ballota, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Starring in the show Games of Thrones as Meereen, the castle museum also has a Games of Thrones exhibition where there are displays of stills from the show and the gunpowder chamber set from the show.

The production team of Game of Thrones at Klis Fortress.
The production team of Game of Thrones at Klis Fortress. Kigsz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Interesting Klis Fortress Facts

  • Local nobles attempted to take over Klis Fortress after the Ottomans seized control, but their success only lasted for weeks. 
  • Klis Fortress was significant for being situated at a pass between two mountains, Mosor and Kozjak, but it also connected coastal land to the central regions. 
  • St Vitus’s Church situated in the upper area of Klis Fortress was converted to a mosque during Ottoman hold over the castle.

Visiting Klis Fortress – Tips and Tricks

We are sure that you are intrigued enough to think about visiting Klis Fortress by this point. If you are looking for credible information concerning visiting details, worry not, for we have you covered. In the following section, we have provided you with detailed information concerning visiting hours, ticket pricing, and some general tips that you should look out for.

Game of thrones set in Klis Fortress.
Game of thrones set in Klis Fortress. Ballota, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to get to Klis Fortress?

Klis Fortress is fairly close to Klis town. You can take a hike to the castle, which is almost a six-minute walk from Klis central. A taxi to the castle will barely cost a dollar or bus line 22, which leaves from the National Theatre bus station, and Bus line 35 and 36, from the Sukoisanska bus station, are the most feasible public transportation options.

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The castle opens up daily for visitors from 10:00 am till 4:00 pm. The most popular visiting hour is between 10 am and 11 am. If you wish to avoid crowded hours, we will advise you to visit the castle after the rush. The standard ticket price to visit Klis Fortress is 40 Kuna ($6 USD) for the adults and 20 Kuna ($3 USD) for children under eighteen. Using this ticket, you can not only visit the castle grounds, but it is also valid for the ethno park Stella and Interpretation Center.

Some places in the fort require a little bit of hiking. Therefore, it is advisable to wear the proper gear when you visit the fortress to avoid any trouble. In addition, there are several tours available that will allow you to explore the castle in depth. You can avail these guided tours to learn about the history and the contemporary significance of the castle.

Klis Fortress view from afar.
Klis Fortress view from afar. Bernard Gagnon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

It can take two and a half hours to complete a whole tour around Klis Fortress.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • It is best to book a guided tour before visiting the castle so that you can explore the fortress in detail and without any hassle. 
  • There is also parking available near the fortress that you can avail if you wish to visit the castle using private transport. 
  • While you are at it, make sure not to miss out and capture the panoramic views of natural hills and rocky mountains surrounding the fortress. 

Quick Video Tour of The Main Klis Fortress Areas

Kainat Khalid
Kainat Khalid
Kainat is an English literature graduate with a profound interest in historical architecture. She has studied and explored the dusted pages of history for years which has ignited her passion to explore the existing remnants of our past glory and revisit them from a revised perspective. “There is no present without the past” is what she believes in and what drove her to begin cataloging these timeless historical monuments.

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