It was just after the war when I first visited Klicevica fortress near Benkovac. I knew about it for a while and the canyon where it is located looks quite interesting from the distance so we had to check it out. The first time we saw it, coming from the dry river bed, in a cool winter dusk, it looked like a place from a medieval tale!
Since then, the highway was built and one of the bridges crosses this beautiful canyon so Klicevica fortress can be clearly seen right before Benkovac exit. I have been there on numerous occasions and even brought some clients for a short hiking trip but it was always the most interesting way to reach it from the river bed (usually dry in summer and winter when there is not enough rain). The stream depends on the rains and other small streams up north from this canyon so it is not always active.
Klicevica is an old fortress dating back to mid 15th century when this part of Dalmatia was divided between the Venetians and Hungarian king who ruled the rest of the country. There was a village nearby but it disappeared in the Turkish wars that followed. There was also a number of watermills near the water, bellow the very building, but they are gone for the most part and only some walls can be seen. The problem was always the fact that the stone blocks were “recycled” to build new villages like the nearby Raštević today. We also did some searching as it is known that there are three caves in this canyon. We found two that are well known but also a small one that comes just bellow the fortress. It was to narrow to explore further but it looks like it can be connected with some sort of a tunnel to the fortress above.
Klicevica is easy to reach and a great place to visit. Especially with kids.If coming from Benkovac. follow the road to Zadar and, to your left, you will see a big railroad bridge. Turn towards it and park the car. Then walk. Take either a narrow goat path or a much wider road through the pine forest. Recently, the Tourist board of Benkovac did a very good job in cleaning up this place and there are even some picnic tables as the place is increasingly popular with locals as a nice weekend destination.
The fortress itself is in great condition compared to many in the vicinity. It is still of the original height and the round tower is nearly intact. There is a big opening in the bottom of the tower and one can get inside where, it appears, a square tower of earlier date has been used as a base for this new one. If there is interest, it can easily be reconstructed. Even without major works, Klicevica is one of the best preserved examples of medieval military architecture in the region.
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