The Frankopan castle
The Frankopan castle in one of the greatest historical testimonies of Krk’s inhabitance. Today we set off on a tour of the castle from quiet and spacious Kamplin square, to see authentic stone passages which are nine hundred years old and partially restored and converted into exhibition areas and partially left in their authentic appearance which displays layers of eras and generations’ inscriptions. Nowadays the whole edifice can be seen while walking on walls, visiting floors of three towers and observing spacious castle interior.
Frankopan noble family built the Frankopan castle through extended period of time i.e. between 12th and 15th century with the purpose of city’s defense: in event of attack the troops and citizens would find shelter within the castle’s walls.
Square tower or Courthouse
The square tower is the oldest part of the castle. It is assumed that it was built independently to serve as bell tower of the cathedral, since Krk’s cathedral did not have any other bell tower. Aside from church bells, from this tower you could also here alarm bells in case the city was in danger. Proof of the year of construction is to be found on the lunette which was found above the square tower’s gate and on which stands the following inscription:
“This is the work of entire community in the year of the Lord 1191. At the time of Ivan, Krk’s bishop, and Bartol and Vid, dukes of Krk, this creation was initiated”. This lunette can be seen even today when visiting the castle.
Murals have been found in square tower’s walls layers so it is possible that the entire tower was used for liturgical or other celebrations and it is evident that later on the tower served as courthouse.
This tower can be recognized even in the oldest preserved painting of the city of Krk, the one painted by Girolamo da Santa Croce and depicts St. Quirinus which holds the city of Krk. The painting was created around 1530 C.E. and today it can be seen in the Franciscan church on the island of Košljun.
Today the tour of the castle begins by entering the square tower. The oldest monument with city of Krk’s name inscribed, dating from 4th century C.E can be seen on the ground floor while located on the first floor are the Frankopan genealogy and puppets dressed in clothes from the Frankopan era.
Round or Venetian tower
This tower is called the Venetian tower because it was reconstructed during the Venetian government which left its signature in shape of subsequently added plate showing lion of St. Mark, with a carved inscription Aureae Venetorum libertati (To holy Venetian freedom) year 1500 C.E. This plate is still visible today on the outside of the tower.
From the inside of the tower, we can discern the imposing doors that are now walled up, but in time of construction they had bars. We can observe the cannon niches which are facing towards the city and this is interpreted, according to the example in Dubrovnik, as a Venetian custom to protect themselves from their own vassals. Nowadays, on the ground floor of the round tower there is an exhibition which offers a cultural and historical overview of the creation of the city of Krk, from the era of Liburni until today. Climbing up to the second floor of the round tower we are proceeding with the tour of the castle which continues on the castle’s walls which provide a view of all four sides of the world.
In the northwest of the castle instead of the fourth corner tower, besides three existing, there is a so called “mašikul”, sentry box, which was covered and enclosed but it was not a real tower. This is an argument to the assumption that entire castle was built in a way that the walls were upgraded to two existing, older towers (Square and Austrian) used as corner points, using their convenient location toward the city and the sea.
Stone consoles, which are to be found along the walls, witness that walls and towers were used for patrol, together with wooden beams and rock and brick materials. On the south walls we can see loop holes that had covers used to protect the archers.
In the inside of the castle there is a large open space in which the soldiers were sheltered, as well as citizens in times of danger. Stern – the water tank, provided drinking water and two exits in the south and west were used for supply.
Openings in the northern walls, cannon niches, now exhibit: grain measure in the first niche(which was used for sales and taxation), and in the second niche there is the oldest Roman notation on the island, which speaks of expansion of the walls, and thus testifies to the city’s existence between 50 and 30 years BCE.
Exhibition of cipuses i.e. Liburnian tombstones is to be found in the niches of the southern walls.
The method used to skillfully incorporate Frankopan castle into Roman city walls is still admired by historians. Exit to old walls is visible on the eastern side, and the older towers were practically used to fortify this defense and military edifice.
Today the Frankopan castle in the city of Krk is one of the most important monuments of the family Frankopan, one of the most powerful families in Croatian history in the period between 12th and 17th century, and it is a valuable resource for interpretation of military and urban history of the city, but also a magical place for visitors who are looking the answers to how and why we turned out such as we are and what can we become...