#171 Nehaj Fortress [Tvrdava Nehaj]
Senj, Croatia
Completed 1558
This is NOT an official Lego site

The history of the fortress above Senj is really the history of the Uskoks of Croatia and on the Adriatic Sea.  The origin of this group of guerrilla fighters began around the ancient fortress of Klis, atop a mountain about 10 miles from Split, Croatia, and about 130 miles south of Senj as the crow flies.  Around 1525 the Ottoman Turks had recently conquered both Bosnia and Serbia, and refugees from those countries were streaming into Croatia to escape.   Groups of Christian men, gathered and led by Petar Kružić [left], centered a strong defense there against the Muslim Turks, to the happiness of Archduke Ferdinand I, newly elected King of of Bohemia and Hungary [1526] and Croatia [1527].  Since payments for frontier protection were often missed, and since the Uskoks were largely a law unto themselves, they took up piracy to make ends meet, to the chagrin of both the Ottoman Turks and the Venetians.  Klis Fortress surrendered in March 1537, when they ran out of water and Kružić died.  His Uskoks fled up the coast to Senj to be regrouped by capable Croatian army leader, Ivan Lenković [right].  Peace was established between Venice and the Ottomans in 1539, and for the next eight years the Uskoks raided inland Bosnia [under the Turks] and Dalmatia [under the Venetians].  In 1547 when the Habsburgs and Ottoman Turks signed a peace treaty, the Uskoks returned to piracy on the high seas.  This led to 3 unsuccessful attempts by the Turks to capture the walled town of Senj, but outlaying homes and churches were burned and otherwise damaged. Ivan dismantled these remains, and used the stone to construct his fortress atop Trbusnjak Hill. 
Tvrdava Nehaj was completed in 1558. The many trees on the hill made both cannon and siege machines practically useless.  The Venetians appealed to Ferdinand I, now Holy Roman Emperor, but the plunder flowing into Vienna and Graz from the Uskoks caused their pleas to fall on relatively deaf ears.  General Lenković died in 1569, but his Uskok legacy continued with his fortress and town untamed for decades to come.  In 1592 the commander-in-chief of Bosnian Muslim forces led an army to capture Senj and Nehaj, but despite early successes his army was routed and dispersed.  In 1600 Austria sent Count Joseph de Rabatta to brutalize the Uskoks, but his favoritism toward Venice led to his loss of all military support, and he was ousted then killed by the Uskoks.  Uskoks attacks on Venetian shipping increased so that by 1613 Venice sent a squadron of ships to attack the Uskok, only to be answered in kind.  Finally in 1615 war broke out between Austria and Venice.  The peace treaty signed two years later arranged for the Uskok to be disbanded, and most migrated into the hinterlands of Croatia.
The fortress itself is a tower of 75 feet square, and 59 feet tall.  The walls are 6.8 to 10 feet thick.  The ground floor is arranged like a tic-tac-toe puzzle with eight nearly identical rooms surrounding a small courtyard.  A well in the center is above the cistern.  The ground floor housed kitchen, dining and social quarters, with gun ports in every room.  The second floor is a quadrangle featuring 11 cannon ports with the other position being the summit of the staircase and the box machicolation which is the base of the fifth turret, guarding the entrance.  The top floor is soldiers' quarters with sloping garret above.  Each corner features an identical turret with small rooms on the second floor and at battlement level.  The roof access is by mural stair between the northwest tower and the entrance tower on the north side.  A solitary garderobe projects from the battlements on the opposite side.  The roof drains rain water into pipes running down two corners of the courtyard into the cistern.  Very clever.  For many years the tower sat neglected and inaccessible, but between 1964-74 the castle was restored and features a unique museum of Senj and Uskok artifacts.
The courtyard with cistern Cannon on the first floor Roof and battlements including stair Solitary garderobe


Ground Plan Cross-section including cistern


Photos of the Lego Model
under construction January, 2019

My initial plan was to just construct my usual shell for this project, but as I looked at the base on January 17, I thought "How boring.
All four sides are more or less the same."  So I decided on the spot to leave one side open, so much of the interior could be
appreciated.  It looked good on the 18th, but got very dim with a ceiling on Saturday, so now it's also lighted.

The basic layout is quickly done
on January 17...
...with floor supperts done
the same afternoon.  It
at this point that "boring"
I decided to leave the
east side open, so the
mural staircases could
be appreciated.
This is now the "east view"
which will a much better angle
for all the construction pictures
that follow.
On day 2 the ground
level really begins to
take shape...
...with some furniture added to
improve livability.  There is, of
course, a wall between the dining
room and tiny courtyard.
It became immediately clear
on Saturday morning, January
19, that it was too dark inside.
The openings on both the ground
and first floors are quite small
The dim interior was going to impress no one! So LED Liteup Blocks (actually 1 x 4 plates) were
added in each of the five visible rooms on the
entry level!
On day 4 the first floor
is in place...
...ready for the first floor, with
its eight cannon bays.
Monday, January 21 saw
walls rising on the first
Here's the east view: Note the
pair of Uskok soldiers looking
at their wall map of Senj.
January 22 sees the first floor
with ceiling in place.
It's beginning to look somewhat
homey inside -- for a castle...
Wednesday saw the second
floor in place, and first floor
wiring hidden.
The next day work begins in
earnest on the interesting
windows of the second story...
...and the space designated
for the Uskoks soldiers to
On January 25 the second
story walls are readied.
Saturday saw the placement
of the huge "wooden" beams
which will support the roof.
Here is a view with the roof
about one half complete.
January 27 marked
the completion of the
...and the beginning of con-
struction of the wall walk
and turrets. SEE BELOW.


Photos of the Lego Model
completed January, 2019

The castle was actually finished a couple days into February, as I was awaiting a Bricklink order to
finish the merlons, but it was 99.9% completed by the end of January.

Here is the view of the
completed cast from
the north.
The northwest view gives
an excellent perspective of
symmetry of the fortress.
The west view looks
exactly like the east view!
And the south view would
as well, except for the
garderobe inserted into
the parapet. 
The northeast view
brings us to the viewing
side of the tower.
But first, here's a nice
aerial view from the
...and a closeup of
the entrance stair
and drawbridge.
Here's a close-up of the stair
to the battlements, and
several turrets.
And, of course, the rather
public toilet.
And for perspective, the
bird's eye view of the tiny
courtyard, now roofed.
Finally, we're back to
the east side...where
it's time to...
...turn on the lights!  I'm
going to proceed floor by
floor, from lower right to
upper left.
I imagine the Entrance
Hall for rifles and other
weapons, and for social-
izing with your fellows.
Here's a closer view of the far
end of the Hall.
The Dining Hall is to the
left [Note: I removed the
far wall to show off the
In the next room an Uskoci
soldier discusses menus
with the staff.  Looks like
fresh fish from the Adriatic.
On the first floor I imagine the
heavier cannon, since the floor
is atop stone arches.  Plenty
of powder and cannon balls!
Nearby are current maps of the
Ottoman conquests, and the Senj
The far left room on the
1st floor highlights both
cannon and the door to
the Captain's quarters.
On the top floor are the cots
for the rank and file Uskoci.
There are also lighter cannon.
The cots all feature the
Croatian colors, and are
issued to each man.
Looking back a bit, one can
appreciate the rack of back-
packs with soldiers personal
It looks like avoiding a
confrontation would be a
smart idea.


Build Your Own
Ground Floor Plan
Top Down Plan
North Elevation
Cross-section looking west

Other Nehaj Fortress pages:
(Note the 4th link has several nice videos)

Return to the main castle page.

Castles created by Robert Carney
Page designed & maintained by
Robert Carney