Klis Fortress, Klis Sights

Daniela Rogulj

The Klis fortress, one of the most prominent fortifications on Croatian soil, had an imperative defensive position in the past because of its strategic importance. The Illyrian tribe Dalmatae inhabited this area since 2nd century B.C., and the first news about Klis fortress was heard in the middle of the 10th century, which refers to the occupation of the Roman Fort of Kleis by Avars and Slavs, thus enhancing the conquest of the city of Salona in the first half of the 7th century when Croats embarked on these territories. Two centuries later, Klis was already a ruler and one of the centers of the Croatian state.

During the reign of Prince Trpimir from the year 852, Klis was mentioned as his estate and became the seat of the old Croatian Primorje or Klis County (Parathalassia). At the end of 11th century, the Croatian folk dynasty and Klis came under the rule of Croatian-Hungarian kings. One of them, Bela IV, had been relieving her family during the Tatar sieges in 1242.

At the end of 13th century, Klis was dominated by the most powerful Croatian noble family from Bribir, prince Šubić, and from 1335, the city was again under royal protection. 

The most prominent period of history comes from the beginning of the 16th century at the time of the greatest penetration of the Turks into the Croatian regions. At that time, Petar Kružić, prince of the town and captain of Klis, played a prominent role in the defense of the fortress, as he already resisted Turkish invasion and siege for two and a half decades. With his death on March 12, 1537, Klis fell into Turkish hands, thus losing the most powerful Croatian fort in Dalmatia – the Jadro River acted as the border between the Turkish Klis (Kliški sandžak) and the Venetian Split for 111 years. 

One of the attempts to liberate Klis was in April 1596 by Croats under the leadership of the Split nobility Ivan Alberti and Nikola Cindra. They managed to take over the fort, but the Turks again won in May, defeating General Jurja Lenković who waited for help from the defenders.

On March 31, 1648, the Venetian army, under the guidance of General Leonardo Foscolo, with a lot of help from the homeland, liberated Klis from the Turks and achieved the greatest success during the Kandija war after ten-days of bloody fighting. The Klis area was then regulated by the Venetians as a special military-administrative area governed by a headquarter in Klis. The fortress Klis, completely restored and extensively expanded, remained under the flag of the Republic of Venice until 1797, when it was taken over by Austrians, and from 1805 until 1813 under the French.

The period of the Second Austrian Administration lasted until the end of the First World War in 1918, when the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Klis, along with the rest of Croatia, shared the fate of all Croatian lands within the borders of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and then Yugoslavia. During the Second World War, since April 1941. By October 1944, the Klis fortress was used for military purposes for the last time, mostly as a base of Italian and German occupation forces, which finally ended in 1990 with the independent state of the Republic of Croatia.

Source: Klis Fortress 


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