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Klis Fortress, Sinj and Gata

Offering an insight into the history, lifestyle, and cultural and culinary traditions of a little-visited area north of Split, this full-day tour encompasses historic towns and villages, the sweeping scenery of the Dinaric Alps, and the chance to meet local people. The region has been a crossroads between the Balkans and the Mediterranean for thousands of years, and its rich history and scenic setting make it a highly engaging destination. With a private driver and guide, you’ll be able to make the most of your time as you get off the beaten track and dine on authentic Croatian dishes in a family home.

You’ll be collected from your hotel in Split or Trogir in the morning for the journey northeast to Klis Fortress. Set on a rocky outcrop on a pass separating the Mosor and Kozjak mountains, the fortress served as a strategic defence post from the time of the Illyrians in 9 AD. Later, it became a royal castle and a base for the Knights Templar, and it was last used during World War II. More recently, it acted as the backdrop for the fictional city-state of Meereen on HBO’s Game of Thrones.

From Klis, you’ll continue north across the Dinaric Alps to the historic town of Sinj. The town is best known for the three-day Alka of Sinj, a festival held in early August that celebrates the victory of a band of locals over an Ottoman army. Each year, there’s a procession of Alka horsemen in full costume and a riding competition where Alkar knights attempt to lance a steel ring, hanging from a rope, while at full gallop.

As well as having a chance to look around the town and hear about its history, you’ll visit the Alka Museum. Here, you can see a life-size diorama of the procession along with displays on the customs, costumes and traditions of Sinj.

After your museum visit, you’ll find out more about another of the region’s traditional customs, soparnik. This local dish is hailed as the precursor of pizza, and, according to local lore, it was brought from here to Italy by the Romans. Made with chard, onions and parsley stuffed inside a pastry dough, its preparation is regulated and protected as part of Croatia’s intangible cultural heritage.

You can sample this traditional dish, made by an authority on its preparation, Anka Mekinić. You’ll visit Anka’s home to watch her prepare the soparnik and bake it in her traditional oven. While Anka is cooking, you’ll hear about the history and importance of the dish to the Poljica region and sip on some homemade rakija (local fruit brandy) infused with different herbs from her garden.

Once the soparnik is ready, you’ll dine outside on the veranda, surrounded by roses, kiwi trees and the countryside’s gentle hills. A glass of Croatian wine accompanies your soparnik, which can be followed up with another local seasonal dish. Once you’ve finished your meal, you’ll travel back to your hotel with your driver.

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