Croatian Alamo

20 February 2023.

Written by Matija Čaić

Approximately halfway between the cities of Glina and Dvor, the fortress of Gvozdansko was located. Croatia is full of fortresses, bigger and better preserved than this ruin, so there is no real need to visit it. Unless you know what happened there. After reading the article, you will at least be intrigued to visit this place of heroism. The Gvozdansko is a symbol of the heroic resistance to the very end that can only be death.


The fort was built by the Zrinski counts. In it they had a coin factory and iron foundry.

Gvozdansko gained importance in 1556 when the Turks conquered Novigrad near Dvor and almost freed the way through Žirovnica stream in the depths of the Croatian kingdom. The only thing that stood on their way was this fortress.


The first attempt to conquer Gvozdansko was made by Malkoč beg, a turkish servant from this area. In 1561 he attempted to capture the fort twice, but was repelled both times.

Realizing the need for better preparation for such a hard task, Ferhat Pasha began to conquer the surrounding forts to separate Gvozdansko from the rest of the empire. He did so in 1577. In the meantime, the Turks, tried to conquer fort four times unsuccessfully.

In the summer of 1577, the bridge was built over the river to transfer the army and siege cannons. The siege of Gvozdansko began on 3. of October.

300 defenders in the fort, 50 real soldiers and 250 miners and peasants, confronted 10 000 Turks. The plan was to wait for the defenders to spend their supplies and then force them to surrender. However, by the beginning of the winter, the defenders have firmly insisted on maintaining their positions.

Instead of retreating to winter homes during cold months and waiting for the spring to continue the siege, Ferhat Pasha decided to leave the Gvozdansko surrounded so that the defenders can not replenish the supplies.

As in all great stories, the winter of that year was extremely cold. Turkish horses started dying, and at night they were woken up by the sound of trees bursting from the cold.

Cold and tired Turks once again asked the defenders to surrender so everyone could go to the warm and celebrate Christmas. The request has not fallen again to the fertile ground.

At the beginning of next year, the defenders remained without food and they had to start eating their guard dogs. At least as long as the Turks did not destroy this source of food by throwing the poisoned meat with the arrows and killed them.

From 9 to 12 January, the Turks carried out three more attacks on the fort, but were rejected each time. Assuming that the moral of the defenders was low due to the cold and the hunger, and that their numbers were decimated with cannon fire, Ferhad-pasha again offered the surrender and the passage to the free territory. The defenders remained firm in their decision not to leave Gvozdansko to the enemy.

On the night of the 13th of January, all fires went out in the fort. Assuming that it was a sign of a counterattack, the Turks were waiting for it all night. After the attack did not come in, in the morning with the help of the cannons, they took the last decisive attack and burst through the gate of the fort.

There was no resistance, and when they enter they realized why. There was neither food, ammunition or firewood in Gvozdansko, and all defenders were frozen in positions.

Impressed by this unseen heroism, Ferhad – pasha has ordered a Catholic priest to be brought to bury the dead and all the surrounding areas were freed most of the taxes.

Background image: https://hr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datoteka:Gvozdansko_castle_ruin,_Croatia.jpg. Author: Pdluke

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