Knin Fortress is situated on the main transport corridor leading from Dalmatia to continental Croatia and Bosnia. Archaeological excavations date that this area was populated since the 6th century.
The Croats built the fortress near a devastated Roman settlement, soon after they settled in the area. It was one of the residences of Croatian monarchs, and possibly became the main residence later, since it was much safer to rule from Knin over the lands of Liburnia and Dalmatia, and to Christianize the pagan Croats in Gacka, Lika and Krbava.
The fortress was divided to a small and a big town in the 14th century. The small town was used primarily for defensive reasons, while the big town comprised the flats that were occupied by the town's governors, bishops or župans. Suburbs were located just outside the walls. The oldest section is the upper town on the northern side of the fortress, while the middle and lower towns were built in the Late Middle Ages.
It is possible that, in the 15th century, during the raising danger of the Ottoman advance towards Europe, an additional railing defensive wall was constructed on which the main entrance to the fortress is situated today. Both of these fortifications, citadels, were connected in a unified defensive complex. In May 1522 the Ottomans laid a siege on Knin that ended on 29 May 1522 with an Ottoman victory. At the end of XVII century was conquered by Venitians until 1797 year of the fall of the Republic of Venice.
The fortress comprises three parts: northern, middle and southern. Each part of the fortress is protected by loopholes and gun holes, and is connected to other parts by the city gates and drawbridges. The formation of the northern section, according to recent research, happened from the middle of the 8th century to the end of the 11th century.
Baroque stone gates are set on the main entrance to the fortress, where the doors are made out of oakwood and strengthened with iron nails. This monumental entrance was most likely constructed by Ignacije Macanović, a builder from Trogir. Above the doors, the symbol of the Venetian Republic can be seen.
Towards the northern part, on the left side, a building of the governor of arms used to be there; today it is the old city hall. Left of it were the barracks which eventually became the gallery of the museum of Knin. On the same location a memorial was elevated to fra Lujo Marun (1857–1939), a friar who was the first to instigate archaeological excavations in this area, and to discover many remains of the old Croatian culture.
Within the church of St. Barbara, a bell is kept as a gift from Pope John Paul II, which was given to Knin during his stay in 1994. The current state was undertaken by a Venetian military engineer, Alberghetti, where an inscription suggests that the construction works were completed in 1711. It is protected as a historical urban complex and is inscribed in the register of the Cultural heritage of Croatia as a monument of top importance.References:
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