Road of Castles

The “Road of Castles” runs parallel to the Magistrala on the coastal side and connects Trogir with Split. When, in the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire managed to expand up to the fringes of Split and the Kozjak Mountains, the nobility and the Church realized that their possessions were in danger.

Patricians and bishops of the Split area had countless castles built along the coast which were meant not only to defend the crops but also served as dwellings. In times of danger, help could also be expected from the sea. The serfs and tenants soon started building their own houses in the immediate vicinity of the castles. In time, whole villages came into being, with a fortress or a fortified tower in their middle. Industrialization of the coast between Trogir and Split unfortunately caused severe damage to the environment in this area. The Bay of Kastela is one of the great ecological problem zones of the Adriatic coast.

Near the seaside resort of Resnik stands a small Venetian fortress from the 16th century, which is unfortunately far less often visited than the local beach. Nearby is Split airport. Stjepan Stafileo, from Trogir, had a fortified palace, Kastel Stafilic, built here around the year 1500. The dwellings are situated in the southern wing of the complex, the fortifications occupy the northern part. Around the castle a village came into being. It was the setting for the Dalmatian version of Romeo and Juliet, called Mijenko and Dobrila. The grave of the two lovers is in the Church of St. John the Baptist. The story of the star-crossed lovers was first written down and published in 1833 by an author from Trogir.

If you drive about two kilometers, you will reach Kastel Novi (New Castle), built in 1515 by Pavao Cipiko, also from Trogir. Kastel Stari (Old Castle) is the oldest piece of architecture on the bay. It goes back to an earlier relative of Cipiko, the humanist Koriolan Cipiko. In 1476, he had a castle built, the southern side of which looks like a summer palace. Over time, a village developed in front of the castle. Two kilometers further is Kastel Kambelovac, a cylindrical defense tower from 1566.

Kastel Gomilica on Gomile Island, which once housed a Benedictine nunnery, fires the imagination – one can well imagine how the settlement would have looked in earlier times. Within the castle walls the local people built 30 houses. On the other side of the bridge linking the castle to the mainland another village sprang up, which was also surrounded by defensive walls against potential attacking enemies. Three kilometers further is Kastel Sucurac, built by the bishops of Split in 1483. Further inland rises the Kozjak, which stretches for more than ten kilometers from east to west. Its highest peak towers at 780 meters; its southern wall is really rocky with slopes descending practically vertically.

About ten kilometers above Kastel Stari on the road inland to Drnis is the mountain but Malacka, at a height of 552 meters. You can walls from there (90 minutes) to the peak of the Biranj (661 meters), to the Church of Sveti Ivan Krstitelj (St. John the Baptist). There is a marked trail. Every year, on July 26, there is a pilgrimage to the church.

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