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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Friday 12 May 2023

Knin Castle

 My last blog from my trip to Croatia covers the castle at Knin. This is a bit off the tourist route, situated inland near the Bosnian border. However, it's not far from the excellent Krka National Park with its stunning waterfalls, if you need to sell it to your partner!

It was started by the medieval Croatian state in the 9th century. Then extended by the Ottomans before reaching its final outline during the Venetian occupation from 1688-1797. Even then, internal buildings were added by the Austro-Hungarians. 

You can't miss the castle as you enter the town, as the hill dominates everything. The town is otherwise pretty forgettable, unless you are a railway buff, as it is an important junction with extensive sidings and a locomotive depot.

It is huge. They claim it is the second largest in Europe, covering 48,000 square metres within the walls. They are doing some restoration work to make it a little easier to walk about, but the entrance is accessible by car, although parking is limited. The map below gives an idea of the scale, and I spent an hour or so walking around. There is a restaurant at the end, which on a warm day was very welcome.

The views all around are spectacular, particular towards the mountains on the border.

Inside the castle is fairly well preserved and they have converted a number of the later barracks into display areas.

One of the barracks houses an exhibition on 'Operation Storm', the final Croatian offensive in what they call the Homeland War. This highlights a darker side to the town during the wars of 1991-95. This was the HQ of the so-called Republic of the Serbian Krajina. The military garrison commander was the convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic. He led the ethnic cleansing of Croats in the area, and when the Croats turfed him out, most of the Serbian population fled with him. The villages around the town are full of boarded-up houses, and some are ghost villages. 

The town has more Croatian flags than anywhere else I've been, including a massive one on the castle's high point, along with a statue of President Tudman, who visited the fortress the day after its capture.

Overall, this is one of the best castles in Croatia, and well worth a visit. Even if the recent past is tragic.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely beautiful - a lovely castle (and one, I imagine, that no one would want to assault. 😎