Storytelling, myths and legends are as old as humanity is. Each country, region or even village has its own famous stories that people like to tell.
Some are based on a true event, and some have a completely supernatural scenario. However, people like to connect a certain place or landscape with a meaning, a personality, a fascinating story. With the emergence of science and rationality, many were forgotten, but there is something in myths and legends
that is still intriguing us. If you are spending your holidays in one of our villas in Croatia, be sure to look out for some local myths and legends to spice the sightseeing up a little bit.
For example, some coastal towns got their names in honour of the good mythological beings who defeated the bad ones, turning them into Adriatic islands that finally got their names from the bad giants. We decided to mention a few more legends that you might encounter on your vacation in Istria
Attila, the conqueror of Istria
In Istria there are many stories about Attila, the great Hun leader
, who defeated Aquileia in 453, pierced northern Italy and came into conflict with the Roman Empire. In local storytelling, Attila is the symbol of every conqueror and of all the armies that harassed Istria.
According to legends, Attila is the son of a ruler´s daughter and a dog. He had an eye on his forehead and each time he wanted to say something, he would first bark three times like a dog. Legends tell he destroyed the Istrian cities Dvigrad, St. Lovrec, Mutvoran and Starigrad
, instead of which Novigrad was later built, as well as many castles and palaces of which we find no traces today. But, he apparently did not always have luck with the conquests in Istria. When he tried to conquer Groznjan, he barked first three times under the city walls. Then, the church bells set off, which had driven him out of this area forever.
Apparently, Attila ended his life near Vizinada, when a shepherd hit him with a slingshot in his third eye. It is interesting that a crowned stone head with dog ears and tongue can often be seen across Istria and is a symbolical warning of what can happen to conquerors…
The legend about Veli Joze, Motovun
According to many legends, besides humans, giants were living in Istria
, too. Little humans were treating them very badly and poisoned them, leaving only one in every town to serve them. Giants cultivated fields, crouched wild beasts, and worked the hardest jobs. Veli Joze (big Joze) belonged to the people of Motovun.
If you stay in one of our villas near Motovun
, you will surely come across this name.
Being mistreated, all Veli Joze could do was to shake the Motovun bell tower from time to time. One day they sent him to Venice. On the way, he met a galley rower named Ilija, who introduced him to the meaning of freedom. The galley vanished in the storm, Joze rescued himself by swimming to the Istrian coast, where he met other giants and convinced them to rebel. Eventually, the Istrian giants started a rebellion, but the humans succeeded to set them against each other and fail, by treating them with gold and wine. They all returned as servants to their cities, except Joze, who stayed in the mountains waiting for a better moment to gain freedom.
The Istrian Vampire Jure Grando, Kringa
In a dark night in 1672, nine local residents of Kringa
, headed by a village chief and priest, went to the cemetery to deal with the danger that had been terrorizing the village for 16 years. Namely, after the villager Jure Grando died, he started to rise from the grave each night and wandered around the place, opening and hitting doors to houses where soon somebody would die, and he would visit and mistreat his widow Iva. The nine executives dug his grave up and found a preserved body with rosy and smiling cheeks. They cut his head off, buried the grave, and Jure Grando never again harassed the locals of Kringa.
The witch Mare Radolovich, Svetvincenat
If you are in one of our villas in Central Istria,
be sure to visit Svetvincenat and to learn about the events based on the story about the witch Mare from the 17th century. She used to cure her villagers with different herbs, but she was accused to be a witch. Another version of the legend says the reason for her conviction was her affair with one rich aristocrat. However, she was convicted to death in the yard of the Grimaldi-Morosini castle. When in Svetvincenat, visit also Witch Mare’s House.
The origin of the Amphitheatre in Pula
Booking a beautiful villa in Pula
, means also visiting the famous amphitheatre, locally also known as the “Arena”. Well, the Arena was built by fairies. Once upon a time, Istria was inhabited by fairies, who would dance in forests and meadows at night. One night the fairies grabbed a stone from the Ucka mountain, and put one by one in order into a circle, which is how the Arena in Pula was built. Since the fairies are creatures of the night, as the first sun rays appeared, they had to disappear, otherwise, people would see them. And so, the Arena remained unfinished. This is explained by the fact that the amphitheater was not covered, and the stones intended for this final endeavor remained scattered throughout Istria, from Ucka to the sea.
Whichever place you choose for your holiday destination, try to discover the mythological, creative side of it. Let your imagination go and enjoy the fantastic side of your holiday. The least you will get is an interesting story!