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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 5 May 2023

Venetian Fortresses

 Any trip to the Dalmatian coast brings the visitor into contact with the Venetian Empire. And I don't just mean the endless Pizza restaurants! Venice had a string of ports down the coast and into Greece, primarily as stopping-off points for their trading galleys. They were often surrounded by hostile neighbours, so their towns had to be defended by sea and land.

Today I visited two Venetian ports with fine fortresses to protect them. 

The primary visit was to Sibenik, about halfway down the coast. The natural harbour is well protected by nature, with a narrow channel giving access to the bay. There are two small forts on either side of the channel (on the left of this picture taken from the town.).

The town and its harbour are defended by St Michael's Fortress, which towers above the port that had walls as well. This is a big castle, very well preserved.

The locals pointed out to the Venetians that the town was overlooked by hills. In the age of cannons, all the Ottomans had to do was stick a battery on them, and it was game over. When the Venetians failed to act, the locals built their own fort, which they called St John's Fortress.

The town has a pleasant waterfront today, and the old medieval town has been spruced up. They also have cannons from the Austro-Hungarian warship Kaiser Max, which fought at Lissa in 1866.

We then drove down the coast to Trogir. Another natural harbour with a compact town centre on an island. It was defended by the Kamerlengo Fortress.

We wandered around another lovely old medieval town and had dinner on the harbourfront.

In the morning, we visited the Krka National Park. It does have a couple of medieval castle ruins, albeit only accessible with a lot of trekking. However, the waterfalls are stunning.

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