Kostel Castle site was originally occupied by a smaller fortification, which was expanded into a castle between 1247 and 1325 by the Counts of Ortenburg, vassals of the Patriarchate of Aquileia. First mentioned in 1336 as castrum Grafenwarth, its current name is first recorded in 1449 as Costel. After the extinction of the Counts Ortenburg on 28 April 1418, the Counts of Celje inherited their area holdings, expanding the castle into a formidable fortress and renaming it Schloss Grauenwarth, although the surrounding settlement retained the Slavicised Latin name Kostel.
The castle and settlement were both surrounded by a high, two meter thick wall featuring five defence towers, built by order of Frederik II of Celje. The castle's purpose was the defence of the house's landholdings in Carniola; it also housed a local judiciary, and had its own dedicated execution site about 1 km away.
After the death of prince Ulrich II of Celje in 1456 and the extinction of the house, the castle was taken over by the Habsburgs, who eventually granted the settlement market rights.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was an important strategic fortification against Ottoman invasions. With many of the countries of southeastern Europe occupied by or paying tribute to the Ottoman Empire, Slovenia became exposed to further Ottoman inroads into Europe. The castle, standing along one of the Ottomans' common incursion routes into Slovenia, came under attack several times. Only in 1578 did the castle fall, when the garrison accepted supposed refugees from the Ottomans, but who opened the door that night to the Ottoman forces, who killed and captured the inhabitants of the castle and its village and the surrounding region. The depopulated area was then settled by numerous Uskoks.References:
From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.
Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.
In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.
Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.