Why you should visit Klis Fortress. And the easy way to get there from Split

Why you should visit Klis Fortress. And the easy way to get there from Split

Klis fortress has become known the last few years as an obligatory ‘Game of Thrones Tour’ stop. But it is much more than that.

The first time we came to this part of Croatia (that’s a few years ago now), I remember having looked up at the huge impenetrable wall of mountains lining the coast. I had been amazed, I had never seen that kind of geography. The mountain range has always been a natural defense between the Mediterranean belt and, beyond those mountains, the rest of the Balkans. Approaching Split you see one gap in that wall of defense, a pass between the mountains into the interior. And right there, right in that gap, is a high mass of rock with a huge stone fortress sitting on top of it. That’s Klis fortress.

Below: Klis Fortress in the 16th century

Clissa

 

Situated on that pass, Klis fortress has been a strategic point and has guarded ‘the frontier’ since Roman times (in real life – funny enough just as in the fictional Game of Thrones). It was Roman fortress until besieged by the Slavs in the 7th century, a castle for a number of Croatian kingdoms, then a last line of defense against the Mongols in the 1200′s and the Ottomans in the 1500′s. For 25 years it repelled the Turks before finally falling to them in 1537. For 111 years the Ottomans controlled Klis and battled the Venetians who controlled Split (just 14km away). In 1648 the Venetians, with the support of Croatian locals, liberated the fortress. Under Venetian rule, the fortress was restored and greatly expanded. The Austrians took over the fortress in 1797, the French from 1805 to 1813, then the Austrians again until the end of the Astro-Hungarian empire in 1918. The fortress saw its last military action during the Second World War when it was a stronghold for Italian and German occupation forces. In 1990 after the breakup of Yugoslavia, the Croatian flag was placed on the fortress.

Klis Fortress, Croatia (1)

Klis Fortress, Croatia (8)

Klis Fortress, Croatia (3)

Klis Fortress, Croatia (7)

Today people who do come to visit Klis do so because of the whole ‘Game of Thrones’ hype and for the great views. It’s a fun place to visit, you can easily spend a few hours walking around the fortifications. There’s also a small church, a museum, and a room dedicated to Game of Thrones memorabilia (a few old photos and a dragon that looks like it’s been sitting there for a while). We came in January and were the only people there. During the summer it is more popular. Surprisingly however, I’m told it is never crowded – it only gets about 15,000 visitors a year. I really don’t understand that. It is a very impression place with a spectacular location.

More photos:

Klis Fortress, Croatia (9)

Klis Fortress, Croatia (4)

Klis Fortress, Croatia (5)

Klis Fortress, Croatia (11)

Klis Fortress, Croatia (6)

Klis Fortress, Croatia (10)


Below: Game of Thrones room

game of thrones room at Klis

 

Getting there

If you don’t want to sign up for a tour and you don’t have a car, you can still get there easily by bus (especially on weekdays). The bus to take is the 22, and you take it right in front of the shopping center across from Split’s National Theatre (right outside the wall of the old town). See the schedule here. Note: the times on the schedule are departing Klis, so if taking the bus from Split add about 30 minutes. For example, you’ll see 13:00 (1pm) on the schedule. The bus will be in Split around 1:30 to turn around for Klis again. You’ll arrive in Klis at about 14:00 (2pm). It’s the last stop for the bus and is located right outside the castle. From there a 5 minute walk uphill to the castle gates.
It’s the same schedule coming back. We took the bus at 15:50 (3:50 pm).
NOTE: Klis Fortress is closed on Mondays.

Below: view of the fortress from the bus stop

Klis Fortress, Croatia (13)

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Comments

  1. Since we’ve not watched Game of Thrones (we just couldn’t get into the show), we’d be visiting Klis Fortress without preconceived notions. We’d enjoy clambering around the ruins :-). Next time that we visit Split!
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…7 reasons you’ll love the overwater bungalows at Punta Caracol Aqua LodgeMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Janice. I honestly don’t know why it doesn’t attract more visitors, it’s one of the most impressive fortresses in all of Croatia and easily accessible. I’d go back for a 2nd visit!

  2. Nice photos yet again. The alternative facts travel site kicked me off again. 5 times now. Real facts not welcome there! At least here you present the real stuff.

    Oh well, back to the fence.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Actually wasn’t the nicest day and the sun directly in our faces looking out towards Split. But thank you.
      “Alternative facts travel site”? – sorry, what is that Tom? Not familiar with it.
      You’re not working on Trump’s fence are you? ;)

  3. “honestly don’t know why it doesn’t attract more visitors,”

    The sheep just follow the brochures and other sheep. Is there a country where tourists spread themselves out? You might know one or maybe they don’t exist.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Croatia (and Split) can be quite touristy in the summer and you’d think some of them would go to see the fortress, especially now that it’s famous for Game of Thrones. But I guess they’d rather stay by the beach…

  4. The alternative one is the big one
    Starts with T. 1001 weather questions.

  5. beautiful, majestic and yet creepy! Love it. would love to run around exploring it!
    Andrew Boland recently posted…City Rumble – Budapest versus BucharestMy Profile

  6. I’m a huge GOT fan (which kind of surprises me since I’m not a fantasy or dragon admirer) but I have to admit that I don’t “get” the urge to visit a place just because it’s been the setting for a popular show. The Klis Fortress is magnificent and will definitely be on our “must see” list when we visit Croatia. Like you, I’m surprised that it gets so few visitors annually but I like the idea of exploring this massive place for hours without a lot of people around and getting a sense of its isolation, absorbing its massive size and learning about the fortress’s place in history over the centuries. The views look spectacular and your photos do a great job of showing what an amazing place this fortress is! Anita
    Anita recently posted…New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina: When the Levees FailedMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Anita. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones as well. I just don’t like the idea of themed tours (like the Harry Potter tours. eech).
      So we think the same way.
      This is our 3rd time having Split as a base and I guess the reason we hadn’t gone previously was that 1) it sounded hard to get to (and we don’t like signing up for tours) and 2) I really didn’t know if it was worth it.
      But having been now, I can definitely say that it is worth it and it is also an easy trip out there by bus. Would recommend it to anyone.

  7. The view from Klis down to Split and Trogir is worth the bus ride from Suikosan (sp) and the extreme Bura we experienced back in late November. We went with a friend who was looking to capture the sunlight at a specific time of the day. And while I geeked out on Dany’s paper mache dragons there was a curious and friendly cat who followed us around (until it figured we had no food) who added to the charm of the visit. Greetings from Zenta. Let’s have coffee soon!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hope your friend ended up getting some great photos. We were a bit disappointed with ours…I’m not sure the best time of day this time of year to snap them. Probably close to sunset.
      Sure, let me know when you’re in Split and hopefully we can work out a coffee date :)

  8. Nice! I couldn’t get into GOT since they killed the dog in the first season :-). I can see why they would use it for filming though. Part of it reminds me of Gozo, sister island to Malta where GOT also filmed. I think l would enjoy the solitude of discovering this place and the majestic views. Really hoping to visit Croatia this year!
    Kemkem recently posted…How To Make Authentic Paella ValencianaMy Profile

  9. Looks like an amazing castle. The Balkans offer so much. And like the Game of Throne tie-in.

    Also, thanks for the self guided option.
    Gaz recently posted…Temples of Mrauk U – Must-SeeMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      We don’t like tours, if we can do it ourselves that’s how we’ll always do it.
      Thanks for the comment Ric.

  10. I just LOVE places with this sort of history attached. We spent a week in Split/Hvar but I can tell we barely scratched the surface of this wonderful region!
    Natasha von Geldern recently posted…England: Top 10 literary experiences in OxfordMy Profile

  11. I love clambering around an old fort! Love the photos, especially the one with the fortress walls and city framed through an opening. Fascinating history, are there information placards around to tell you about it or are you on your own?
    Rebecca recently posted…Death Valley Road Trip – Two Nights in Death ValleyMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Rebecca,
      You’re basically on your own. They could do a lot better job honestly. On the day we went the museum was even closed – but we were in January when I think nobody goes. And in some of the castle rooms there were pipes or bricks like they were doing work and these were leftovers…maybe they clean it all up for summer. But like so many other sites in Croatia they could really do a better job.
      But other than that, it still is worth a trip just to walk around the castle and some of its features: the watchtowers, the church, the holes where they poured hot oil. Its all pretty incredible considering the history.
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Why you should visit Klis Fortress. And the easy way to get there from SplitMy Profile

  12. Amazing history! I’d love to wander around there, even with bricks and pipes laying about lol…. I haven’t watched GOT yet, perhaps I should change that. It seems they have great filming sites.
    Paula Wheeler recently posted…The Arm Chair TravelerMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Its a good series. Just wish we could find it online Paula. They’ve used a lot of filming locations around Croatia.

  13. Yet another place to add to our list for Croatia this summer. I didn’t know about the fortress before reading your article – it looks like it is worth it for the views alone!
    Mark recently posted…Where to break the journey between Istanbul and SofiaMy Profile

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