Posted by: viewfromtheriva | December 10, 2012

The 1532 Battle for Klis comes alive!


(Originally posted on August 1, 2011, this post was lost and is now restored!)

This past weekend we went to celebrate the re-enactment of the famous 1532 Battle for Klis. The big event was Saturday night when thousands of people lined the ramparts atop Klis Fortress to witness a re-enactment of the fabled battle that saw the Ottoman Turks finally defeat the Uskocki Croats after more than 20 years of back and forth fighting.

The re-enactment featured period weaponry and artillery being fired, Turks and Uskocki fighting each other on foot, flaming arrows, swordfights and a stirring soundtrack (mixing together everything from Bach’s Toccata to Hollywood movies–but it worked!)

Although Klis Fortress has played a pivotal role in the history of the region for thousands of years (ancient pre Greek remains have been found here), to Croats, it’s the period in the early 1500′s that is most remembered. The heroes were the Uskocki, a rebel band of defenders with their own code of honor (which included a bit of banditry!) who with their comrades in arms held off the Turks despite being heavily outnumbered.

Organizers of the three day event put together a grand spectacle inviting “regiments” from around the country to participate. Some played Turks, complete with authentic costumes and weaponry and veiled women and others played the Uskocki.

In addition to the battle re-enactment at night, there were all sorts of exhibits of ancient cultural traditions–from blacksmith shops to some pretty fabulous 300 year old jewelry.

Klis itself is just 15 minutes from Split and is high up in a row of rocky buttes that overlook all of Split and beyond. It’s obviously the perfect vantage point to control the movement of goods and people for miles around.

After the fall of Klis, the fortress became the de-facto dividing line between the Ottoman Empire and the Venetian ruled part of Dalmatia.

Perched atop one of these buttes, the Fortress is clearly impossible to scale–so it was no wonder that traitors played a key role in the defeat–they simply opened one of the gates.

Only 13,000 people visit Klis each year, a remarkably small number considering it costs just $5 to walk around the ramparts and enjoy the history, ambience and spectacular view.

Places like Klis Fortress really depend on locals to keep it going–so hats off to the small group of modern day Uskocki whop pulled off such a great event–let’s hope it can become an annual event so more and more visitors here can enjoy the rich history that has been part of Klis for thousands of years!


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