For those visiting Croatia, holidays based in the history-rich Dalmatian city of Split afford the opportunity to explore the surrounding towns and villages a little further afield. At just 13 kilometres from Split, the picturesque village of Klis makes for a perfect day trip. It's home to one of the region's most important historical strongholds and the seat of many of the country's rulers – the impressive Klis Fortress. |
Tip: If you're a fan of the smash 'Game of Thrones' series, you may recognise the Klis Fortress. You can also incorporate a couple of other sites that appear on screen to create a theme for your day trip!
If you've hired a car, getting to the village and Klis Fortress is easy, with a choice of two routes - both of which take around 20 minutes from Split. If you're relying on public transport to get around on your Croatia holidays, you'll have a choice of three buses to get you to Klis: number 22, from the National Theatre bus station, and numbers 35 and 36, both from the Sukoisanska bus station.
Exploring Klis Fortress
Presiding over the Dalmatian landscape, wedged in between the Mosor and Kozjak mountains, Klis Fortress is an enduring testament to the skills and determination of ancient stonemasons and architects. Dating back to the 7th century, the fortress evolved - under the reign of several rulers - from a humble stronghold, to a modest castle and, finally, during the raging wars of the Ottomans' time, a mighty fortress. Held by the Ottomans, the Venetians and the Austrians, the fortress has withstood the ravages of battle and time to claim its iconic place in both the historical and physical landscape of Croatia.
True to its purpose, from a distance the fortress almost blends right in to the steep, rocky slope into which it is embedded. It was constructed in three parts (or added to at a later date, the details are undetermined), and the more recent 17th and 18th century additions are remarkably well preserved. You can wander around through the various sections, including several 'inns' that were used as quarantine bunkers during the time of epidemics to prevent the spread of disease between major cities.
To make the most of the ambience of the site, the best idea is simply to wander around and take it all in, but there's also a comprehensive museum, where you can view ancient armour, military uniforms and artefacts.
The fortress was used in several series of Game of Thrones, so you should take advantage of a few obligatory photographic opportunities! Open every day except Monday, from 10am-6pm, admission 20kn (around £2).
Antonicin Water Mill
Before heading back to Split, pay a visit to the Antonicin water mill, at Zrnovnica, which is just five kilometres from Klis. The stunning natural beauty of the area surrounding the water mill played a major role in the filming of the Game of Thrones TV series, and it's not hard to see why it was chosen.
Exploring the tranquil, bucolic ambience of the ancient stone water mill and its lush surrounds will afford you a giant step back in time, but water mills like these have actually been operating in the same way for centuries. You can also take a walk along the river to the nearby quarry, whose stark, ravaged scar also appeared on screen, and provides a startling contrast to the verdant landscape.
If you're still in a Game of Thrones kind of mood when you arrive back in Split, if you haven't already visited the famous Diocletian’s Palace, now's the time to get your first taste – although you'll probably want to return for some more extensive exploration.
Originally constructed in the 4th century as a palace for the Roman Emperor Diocletian to live out his last days in peace, the massive fortress covers nearly half the entire area of Split's old town. The palace consists of several residential buildings as well a base for the military garrison of the Emperor's time. The impressive complex includes the evocative vaulted basement cellars, which were used extensively in the filming of Game of Thrones.
If you've chosen Split as the base for your Croatia holidays, this fascinating Dalmatian city is one of the most illuminating locations in terms of revealing an insight into not only the country's turbulent history, but also its extraordinary natural beauty. It might be hard to concentrate on Game of Thrones’ storyline, however, now you've experienced it for real…
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing luxury Croatia holidays, as well as holidays to Bermuda, Sicily and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.
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