Once the largest city-fortress in the entire Republic of Venice, Zadar’s walls allowed it to retain more of its independence than most of its neighbouring cities, and meant that it was never captured by the Turks.

The most impressive gate of the walls was Land Gate - then the main entrance into the city - in the little Foša harbour, built by a Venetian architect Michele Sanmicheli in 1543. It is considered one of the finest monuments of the Renaissance in Dalmatia, and has the form of a triumphal arch with a central passage for wheeled traffic, and two smaller side arches for pedestrians. It is decorated with motifs such as St. Chrysogonus (Zadar’s main patron saint) on his horse, and the Shield of St. Mark (the coat of arms of the Republic of Venice). Previously, the area had been highly defensive, with a surrounding moat.

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Trg pet bunara 1, Zadar, Croatia
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Founded: 1543
Category: Castles and fortifications in Croatia

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Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.

Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.

The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.