Kozjak, Split/Dalmatia County, Croatia

(Splitsko-Dalmatinsko Zupanija)


  • Malacka - Biranj - Greblice - pod Koludrom Mountain Lodge - Putalj Mountain Lodge - Splitski klincani put - Split SPR pegged route exit - St. Juraj - Solin - Klis
  • Bijaci - Klis ("Kolijevkom hrvatske drzavnosti")
  • Solin - St. Juraj (the Split pegged route)
  • Kastel Sucurac - the Putalj Mountain Lodge - St. Luka
  • Kastel Kambelovac - Pod Koludrom Mountain Lodge (Beneath Koludar) - Veli vrj, 3 h
  • Kastel Stari - Berghütte Malacka - Biranj



Kozjak is a mountain with two distinctly different faces. On its littoral side it is a mighty barrier towering above the narrow belt of the Kastela Littoral. However, if we approach the mountain from its northern aspect the undulating plateau disguises the fact that that we are making our way through mountain country. But when we arrive at the edge of the plateau, from where a view of breathtaking beauty opens before us, strewn before us are islands, and strung one after the other along the shores of the Kastela Bay, and deep below the sheer cliffs are the seven Kastelas (Kastel Stafilic, Kastel Novi, Kastel Stari, Kastel Luksic, Kastel Kambelovac, Kastel Gomilica, Kastel Sucurac). Within a short distance, climbing from the sea to the edge of the plateau, the mountaineer cum hiker experiences three markedly contrasting worlds: a green belt of lush Mediterranean vegetation, with orchards, vineyards and fields made fertile on the flysch sediment; a belt of vertical chalk cliffs, cretaceous limestone covered with vegetation typical of rocky ground, and naturally carved channels and grooves, with an occasional community of black pine; and finally, above the rocks, a plateau sparsely covered by macchia, typical karst rock country. To date, some 20 pot holes and caves have been investigated in this terrain. Here, woods are called gaj (groves) - the Stafilic Grove, Luksic Grove, etc. Rising at the very edge of the plateau (average altitude 600-700 m) are the highest peaks of the mountain. Their range, starting at Kliski klanac (the Klis Gorge) which separates Kozjak from the mountain of Mosor, extends in a westerly direction for about 16 km to the pass, beyond which begins the massif of Opor and Labistica. Ease of access, reliable transport links, short climbs, easy orientation, all contribute to making a visit to Kozjak an attractive proposition, not only for mountaineers but also for the numerous tourists visiting the coast. Although Kozjak is a single massif, it can be divided into three parts, based on its highest peaks: the western part with the St. Ivan Biranj peak and the Malacka Mountain Lodge; the central section, with the peak of St. Luka and the mountain lodges of Putalj and pod Koludrom (under Koludar); and the eastern part, with the peak of St. Juraj and the pegged route through the rock to the summit. The attraction of most of the climbs lies in the different ways in which they master the rocky barrier of Kozjak, as well as by providing a view of the sea and the Kastelas that widens with every step. Two ascents are secured by pegs and ropes, and are particularly attractive due to their being almost like miniature Alpine ascents. Although the climbs are short and easy (1-2 h), they are best attempted in the early morning, especially in summer, since all of them face the south and are directly exposed to the sun later in the day.


Malacka - Biranj - Greblice - pod Koludrom Mountain Lodge - Putalj Mountain Lodge - Splitski klincani put - Split SPR pegged route exit - St. Juraj - Solin - Klis

APPROACH: via some of the routes to be described in the continuation to some of the listed points (all approaches - c. 2h) KOZJAKOVA STIJENA. The rocky southern barrier of Kozjak, extending with minor interruptions along the full length of the mountain, is undoubtedly the most striking feature of its relief. Although it is not outstanding for its height - which ranges from 50 to 250 m - its length ensures its place among the longest rock formations in our country. Its individual sections have been given special names, some by the local people, and some by Alpinists. Proceeding west to east they are: Biranj, St. Luka (height of rock face: 250 m), the Central Barrier, Nugal (shaped like an amphitheatre), Greda (Red Barrier), Bile pecine (White Caves), Kicin (Glava Zuteja), St. Juraj Barrier and Markezina greda (Markeza's rock). The main problem encountered by climbers is the heat in summer, since all the rock sides of Kozjak face south and are therefore almost constantly exposed to the burning sun. Their advantage, however, lies in the possibility of winter time climbs in practically summer conditions, but without the scorching heat. Noticeable down the length of Kozjak, to a greater or lesser degree, are two stone steps - one in the first and the other in the second third of the mountain. The local folk call them Grede (rocks), and along them climbers can find curious, narrow ledges which in places allow one to walk for several hundred metres. They are the result of an almost vertical cut through the geological strata. Just as Klek was the cradle of Zagreb Alpinism, so is the development of Alpinism of the Split area linked to the Kozjak rock, which has become a school for Split climbers. The main attraction is the picturesque southern rock clearly visible from Split. Although a clean rock formation, there are few places where Kozjak reaches a height of 200 m, but despite this it still offers a wide choice of climbing problems of varying degree of difficulty. To date, almost all the ascent routes have been successfully negotiated. THE ROUTE ALONG THE KOZJAK RIDGE: begins at Malacka and runs along Kozjak, descending to Klis, which takes about 10 hours and therefore has to be split into two stages, with a night spent in one of the mountain lodges. From Malacka to Biranj, from Biranj down the ridge to Greblica, from where it descends to the right to the fire break and along it to the lodge under Koludra. The route continues along the fire break to the Putalj Lodge (which takes about 4 hours), from where it climbs to the ridge through Vrata (the Gate) to a rocky plateau covered with low vegetation, and then bears right to the exit of the Split pegged route (Splitski klincani put) . It then continues in the same direction for another 20 minutes, along the ridge to the peak of St. Juraj (676 m), where it begins to descend to the ruins of the Italian barracks built during WW2. From the barracks, one route descends to the right, into Solin, but our route carries on in a NE direction, climbing gently to Markezina greda (Markeza's rock), and then descends down its ridge to Klis. Having explored the Uskok fortress (famous for its defender, Petar Kruzic), a bus will take one back to Split. It has to be borne in mind that on some sections the markings are unreliable and proceed almost continually along a route with no shade at all. For those wishing to cover the full length of Kozjak it is recommended that they take the Dalmatia Mountain Route, which is easily divided in a two-day trek, spending a night in the Putalj Lodge.


Bijaci - Klis ("Kolijevkom hrvatske državnosti")

Of a number of different link paths and transversal routes the only one to be maintained today is the route "Through the Cradle of Croatian Statehood", although most of its control points are located at the foot of the mountain. Located on the prominent peaks, above the rocks in the cult locations - many of which date back to pre-Christian times - are a number of chapels after which some of the peaks have been named. THE KASTELA LITTORAL. During the course of the 16th and 17th centuries, thirteen citadels were built as defensive fortifications against Turkish attacks. Today, seven of them still stand, representing the urban core of seven Kastelas. Sadly, the beauty of this landscape, enhanced by the harmony of the sea, the mountain and the Kastelas, has in our time been violated to a great extent by the construction of large hotels, and of roads and the airport which bisect Kastelansko polje (the Kastela range). SOLIN. Located at the foot of the mountain, this was the most important town on the eastern coast of the Adriatic in the days of the Roman Empire.


Solin - St. Juraj (the Split pegged route)

APPROACH: from Split to Solin (the Nincevici stop) From the bus stop at Nincevici the markings, bearing the letters SKP (the Split pegged route), proceed north, first through a small hamlet, after which they turn left and westwards through a pine wood along a wide fire break. After 40 minutes the route reaches a crossing where we turn right towards Sinkuk (a stone with a peculiar shape), and then uphill. The markings cut across the fire break (a 15-minute walk to the left from this point brings us to a rock into which the image of Silvanus - a pre-Antiquity goat-legged deity - has been carved; the rock is obscured by bushes and a here a guide is needed). Then follows an ascent through thick macchia and across some difficult gravel areas (keep an eye on the SKP markings) towards the rambling rocks. It is here that the marked route through the rocks, secured by pegs and ropes, begins. It was charted by HPK Split (the Split Mountaineering Club). After a shorter gully the route emerges at the top of the rocks and then continues to the right for further 20 minutes to St. Juraj (6776 m), the highest peak of the eastern part of Kozjak. From St. Juraj one can descend to Nincevici via the shorter, direct route down Male Skalice (marking MS), thus closing the circle.


Kaštel Sucurac - the Putalj Mountain Lodge - St. Luka

APPROACH: from Split to Kastel Sucurac From the bus stop the route turns northwards down a street called Ulicom put groblja, crosses the Adriatic highway and, continuing along the asphalt road meandering for another kilometre, reaches a cemetery and the Chapel of Our Lady of Shade (121 m). From the parking area in front of the cemetery we follow the markings uphill for a further 50 minutes to the lodge. At about half way, by the location known as Vela stina, a 20-minute alternative route separates to the left, through fir forest and macchia to the small church of St. Juraj (323 m), a pious endowment made by Prince Mislav and which Prince Trpimir presented to Peter, the Archbishop of Split, in 852. From the church to the lodge it is a further 15-minute hike. THE PUTALJ MOUNTAIN LODGE (460 m) is located on a small slope beneath the southern face of Kozjak, known as Putalj. The area is covered by a thick forest of fir, holm oak, oak, strawberry-tree and macchia. The lodge is a spacious, two-level building constructed of stone and concrete and is one of the largest mountain lodges in Dalmatia. The elevated ground floor contains two dining rooms, a kitchen and premises for the lodge superintendent, while on the 2nd floor (with a balcony) there are 4 bedrooms with 8 beds and 6 double bedrooms. The attic provides space for a further 50 beds. The lodge has all the necessary sanitary facilities. Electric power is supplied from the town grid, water from a cistern, radio, TV and telephone (021/45-466, local extension 336). It is permanently open and there is an approach road. Some 20 m south of the lodge is a small hut in which there is a fire place, where mountaineers gather. The lodge is run by the Kozjak Mountaineering Club from Kastel Sucurac. Its location provides superb views of Split and its surroundings, of the Kastelas, the sea and the Dalmatian mountains. From the lodge a sharp ascent meanders through the rocks of Kozjak to the Vrata Pass on the ridge of the mountain (20 minutes), and with every step the views open out, becoming ever more beautiful. At Vrata there is a crossing, from where a macadam road or path bears left following the ridge to the small church of St. Luke. Close to the church is Veliki vrj (Great Peak) (779 m), the highest peak of Kozjak, where there is a military facility built during the time of the former Yugoslavia. On the mainland side a road, asphalted for most of its length, has been built leading from Soline to the peak itself.


Kaštel Kambelovac - Pod Koludrom Mountain Lodge (Beneath Koludar) - Veli vrj, 3 h

APPROACH: by bus from Split to Kastel Kambelovac From the bus stop in Kastel Kambelovac the route follows the street of P. Kresimir towards the cemetery, across the Adriatic Highway via a bridge, and after 300m through a wood it cuts across the bend of the road. Once it come back to the road, follow the road to the left towards the lodge (access for cars), or along a foot path going straight on to the lodge (1 h of gentle ascent). POD KOLUDROM MOUNTAIN LODGE (325 m) is a solidly built building constructed by "Ante Bedalov" HPD of Kastel Kambelovac on land presented to mountaineers by the local parish authorities. The lodge is named after the Koludar rock (600 m) rising behind the lodge. Timings for the routes accessible from the lodge: Veli vrj - 2 h, Sveti Luka - 1.4h, Putalj Mountain Lodge - 50 minutes, Koludar - 45 minutes, Kastel Kambelovac - 45 minutes. Ascent from the lodge leads directly uphill to the firebreak, (a transversal forest road). Follow this path for 10 minutes towards the Putalj Mountain Lodge, and then turn left after the markings onto a gentle ascent. After half an hour the markings branch. We have given the description of the right branch because of its interesting central section. Between the altitudes of 350 to 620 m it first runs beneath a steep crag, then across a gravel seam, alongside grooves and stone gullies, and finally through a narrow gully (couloir) and up a smooth vertical cliff secured by a steel cable (for skilled climbers only). From there it continues to ascend through the rock, emerging at the ridge. It is a further 20 minutes to reach to Veli vrj. VELI VRJ (779 m) is the highest peak of Kozjak, on which stands a building constructed by the former Yugoslav National Army and to which a road has been built. ROAD APPROACH TO VELI VRJ. The peak can also be reached by the road leading from Soline, via Rupotino, past the workshop of the sculptor Marko Gugic and what was once an Italian barracks, on through Blace to the former military facility at the peak.


Kaštel Stari - Berghütte Malacka - Biranj

APPROACH: by commuter bus from Split to Kastel Stari 18 km distant (bus departs every half hour), or 17 km by rail. Malacka can also be reached by the commuter bus from Split, starting from Sukosanska Street, and following the route across the Malacka Pass, through the Zagora hamlets - from Radosic to Bogdanovici. Hikers will set out from Kastel Stari, taking the road from the bus stop back towards Split for 100 m to the crossroads, where a turning to the left leads to the "Zagora route" (road to Drnis), towards Kozjak. After 1 km the road cuts across the Adriatic Highway; at the 2nd kilometre it cuts across a railway line at the railway station in Kastel Stari. Some 50 m behind the railway line, at the first house (Radun No. 3), a marked shortcut forks off the road, meanders to the Malacka Pass (488 m), veering right from the house. From here one has to turn right and off the road for about 200 m, past the overhead line, proceeding uphill to the Malacka Mountain Lodge (access by car is possible, 10 km from Kastel Stari). THE MALACKA MOLUNTAIN LODGE (520 m) is located on the ridge of the western part of Kozjak. It was named after the Malacka peak which rises 1 km after the pass. The building was presented to the Split Mountaineering Club by the Split Shipyard when the club was denied the use of the then existing Malacka Lodge. In 1970, mountaineers refurbished the lodge located on the pass itself (during the Croatian War of Independence the lodge was not supervised and was totally devastated). It is a solid, single floor building with two rooms which the mountaineers renovated in 1980: one room serves as a dining room with a kitchenette; the other is a bedroom with 20 beds. There is no power, and water is supplied from a cistern. The lodge is run by the "Split HOP", and is usually open at weekends. The lodge is a good starting point for a number of different excursions. Proceeding west, along the "Dalmatia" mountain route, it takes 1.30 h to reach Crni vrh (650 m), the highest peak of the Opor mountain, while a 3-hour hike takes one to the relay at the Labistica peak (701m), where the actual route officially begins. Close to the lodge is a specially constructed, 3 km-long mountaineering path. This path runs from the house in an easterly direction along a marked route to a small, green oasis of relatively tall vegetation, a small lake and a spring. The path is particularly suitable for the elderly and for children, in autumn and spring. From the lodge at Biranj a marked path leads east through rockery and macchia. After 45 minutes it climbs to Malacka (562 m) and then continues for a further 30 minutes, ascending a gentler slope, to Biranj itself (631 m) - the highest peak of the western section of Kozjak. Located shortly before the peak is the small chapel of St. John, the patron saint of Kastel Luksic, which has recently been renovated.



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