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3 Weddings and a Solar Panelled Neolithic Cave

As Day 3 of Legends of Croatia closed, the team of five bloggers – Ashley and Mike from America, Total Hvar and Joanna from UK and Igor from Croatia – seemed to be drawing some conclusions about the concept of the legends of Croatia.

As Day 3 of Legends of Croatia closed, the team of five bloggers – Ashley and Mike from America, Total Hvar and Joanna from UK and Igor from Croatia – seemed to be drawing some conclusions about the concept of the legends of Croatia. Top themes were weddings, infidelity, dragons, fairies and always a pit of some kind. Add to that some suspect legends that would appear to be alcohol-induced by a lonely shepherd or fisherman, and you have the makings of some rich folklore, some of it believable, much of it less so. But all charming.

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First stop on day three was a place near Drnis, which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere (an early theme for this trip), but actually contained a pond and the grave of the unfortunate lady in the legend. Full marks to the researchers of Touristar for trying to get the original authentic locations. 

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The legend revolves around a man and a woman who were in love being attacked by bandits (and this fat Englishman was pressed into action to be a ‘hajduk’), with one bandit deciding he wanted the girl for himself. Having seen her loved one killed by the bandits, the distraught lady asked the best man to decapitate her, rather than fall into the hands of the bandits. Show host Ashley Colburn rather sportingly put her head on the block above the headless woman’s grave, and invited us to decapitate her. Not yet, Ashley, not yet…

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Next up was the first part of a fascinating visit to the magical Krka National Park, which I am ashamed to admit I had never visited until now. The first legend involved kidnapping of a maiden by a flying dragon, who drowned her in a nearby lake, and she was quickly followed by her husband who tried to save her. A devastated father imprisoned two girls in the towers, and they shed plenty of tears. The bridge between the two had an unusual toll – travellers were only allowed to cross it if they shed two tears.

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Althouth the dragon was missing, the maiden’s descent to her certain death looked pretty authentic…

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Krka. Simply stunning on so many levels, and home to some 700,000 tourists every year. I had not appreciated how vast it was, and it was a joy to listen to the crashing waters and to inhale the perfection of true nature.

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Our excellent guide Stipe had a surprise in store for us, and he took us into a Neolithic cave some 60 metres deep, where recent excavations had unveiled the discovery of the remains of two children, believed to be 1.5 and 2.5 – dating back some 5,000 years.

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There were two exciting things to note. Firstly, the cave was not yet open to the public and so this was an exclusive sneak preview. More interestingly, however, was the discovery that the cave was powered by solar panels – the first solar Neolithic cave in the world, perhaps?

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And then one of the highlights of the day – magical Visovac, the small monastery island in the middle of the river.

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An exquisitely delightful place run by monks, who have an interesting sideline in homemade rakija. Although the island is tiny, about 5-10,000 people descend on it on August 2, the day when confessions are held and all sins are forgiven.

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The very engaging monk agreed to officiate at one of our legend weddings. 

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But insisted before we start that he pick a flower for the lucky bride.

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A fabulous day, but there was no possibility of going home without a legend for the road. A married woman had a lover, and they used to meet by a pit. One day her son saw them and threatened to tell his father, which would have ruined the mother. Rather than let that happen, she grabbed her son and tried to throw him into the pit. He in turn grabbed her long hair and they both fell to their deaths together.

Morale of the legend: if you are going to have an affair, get a haircut.

In tomorrow’s instalment, a close look at the heritage and legends of Sibenik and Knin, and shooting hoops with the legendary Drazen Petrovic.

Paul

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