Today was a monumental day in home school (or road school) as we ventured out on a field trip to Klis Fortress. Since arriving in Europe the Younger Fives have been hard at work learning about civilizations, leaders, and important events pertinent to the continent of Europe. With the assistance of the Magic Tree House series, John Green’s Crash Course, and the BBC’s Horrible Histories they have worked their way through the Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, Venetians, Hapsburgs, and onto the World Wars. So, it was with much excitement today that they headed off to explore a fortress that held importance to many of these groups. Just a 30 minute bus ride north of Split, the Fortress of Klis lies in a pass between two mountains. This prime location between the mountains made this particular pass a very important stronghold for any group wanting to control the area and access to the Adriatic Sea. The history of the stronghold dates back to the 3rd century BC when it was first used by an Illyrian tribe of Dalmatae. From there the history is very fascinating and quite long, so we won’t go into great detail. However, it involves control by the Roman Empire, building of a palace by Croatian royalty, transformation to a fortress, invasion by the Ottoman Empire, control by the Republic of Venice, the Holy Roman Empire, and finally ending up as a permanent military outpost being used as late as World War 2. While the kids were excited to be visiting a place where Romans, Ottomans, and even Mongols (they attached the fortress in 1242) all stood, they were particularly excited to be so high up in the mountains looking down on Split. From way up at the top of the fortress you can see all of Split, its outlying areas, and even the islands off-shore. The unobstructed views from all sides give a great understanding to why this was such a prime location for any army. As we explored the fortress we only bumped into two other visiting tourists, so once again the kids had free reign to run, jump, and explore every nook and cranny. They all delighted in taking turns in the sentry boxes, although their height greatly limited their effectiveness as lookouts. Luckily mom and dad were there to give them a boost, so that they could pretend enemies were approaching from the north. Given all they have learned about in history class lately, they had many choices in deciding who the enemy actually was 🙂 Tip for visiting Klis Fortress via bus from Split – 1. Take bus #22 from the HNK (bus stand to the east of the Croatian National Theater). You can buy bus tickets at the small kiosk at the stand (kids ride for free). 2. The bus schedule posted in Split actually lists the time that the #22 bus leaves Klis, and not the time that it departs from Split. Make sure to figure in the 30 minute ride, so you don’t wait around at the HNK longer than necessary. 3. Once out of Split the bus ascends a very steep, very narrow, and very curvy road up to Klis. Fun for those who like thrills, but the more cautious might want to shut their eyes. 4. Stay on the bus until the very last stop where it will let you off at the base of the fortress. 5. There is a great little playground, a small store, and even a cafe very close to the bus stop to make use of while you await the return bus to Split.