If you’re a Game of Thrones fan (and who isn’t?) you’ll immediately recognize Klis Fortress, located just 15 minutes by car from Split, Croatia. Of course, Klis isn’t found among the seven kingdoms, but the fortress has appeared on the show as Meereen.
Despite this impressive appearence, Klis is often overlooked by tourists traveling in Croatia. Jammed into a mountain pass, it has loomed above the Dalmatian coastline for centuries. Although countless historical battles have been fought here in addition to the famous fights on Game of Thrones, Klis is now a serene and very scenic fortress surrounded by a small village. If you have a rental car while you travel in Croatia, we highly recommend visiting Klis Fortress, whether you’re staying in Split or elsewhere.
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Klis Fortress: History as a Stronghold
The most important Croatian folk writing concerns Klis. There’s an old saying here: “It’s hard for Klis to be on top of the stone, but it is even harder for the stone to carry Klis on top of it” The first mention of Klis Fortress dates back to the 5th century. With its location at the only passage through two mountains above Dalmatia, it has been a protector of this region for centuries. Klis has stood tall against the Ottoman Empire, the Austrian Empire and the Republic of Venice.
The fortress has three defensive walls, with a Baroque gate on the west side. The tower Oprah was used as a storage space for artillery by Austrians in the 17th century. Besides the military fortifications, Klis Fortress also holds the Church of St. Vid, on the site of what was once Turkish mosque.
Rousing Reenactments of Croatian Battles
The most famous battle at Klis Fortress was the Battle for Klis in 1532. The Ottomans attempted to take over the fortress after laying siege for 25 years. That they were willing to wait so long testifies to the strategic importance of Klis Fortress.
Every year this battle is reenacted and celebrated in Klis on the last weekend in July. This is one of the highlights of the year here. It is regularly attended by more than 250 actors in full costume. If you’re a history buff or you’re already planning to visit Croatia in the summer, we recommend timing your visit so you can witness the reenactment.
Here’s a video so you can watch for yourself!
Picture-perfect Views of Split and Dalmatia
Empires have come and gone over the centuries, but Klis is still in its spot, watching over Dalmatia, as it has for hundreds of years. It usually doesn’t get too crowded here, and it’s a perfect place for anyone interested in history, since the fortress is preserved in an almost perfect state. Located high above Split and Dalmatia, Klis offers stunning views. During daylight and sunset, you can see the whole city of Split and many of the Dalmatian islands. It’s beautiful even at night, when the fortress lights up with soft orange lights. You’ll be instantly transported to medieval times, when torches illuminated the fortress.
Klis Fortress and Game of Thrones
Klis Fortress is a very easy drive from Split. Just head north. If you’re staying in Split you’ll also have plenty to see, especially if you are interested in Game of Thrones. Split’s 1,700-year-old Diocletian’s Palace is an important site that has been in the show. A little farther afield, Dubrovnik is King’s Landing on the show, and there are many places in and around the city that appear in various episodes. Here’s some more info on this interesting angle of visiting Croatia.
If you are planning to visit Split, or any part of Croatia, we’d love to help you plan your perfect Croatian holiday. Just get in touch to learn more!
Lidija is our Split-based City Host. Born and raised there, she also enjoys spending time in Zagreb in the off-season, when the capital is a much more interesting place to be. In summer the lure of the the coast and Split’s nearby islands is too strong to resist.