CROATIAN LEGENDS

Urban legends used to be spread by word of mouth.

People love stories, and myths and legends in us spark interest and curiosity.

We have highlighted several legends related to our region that need to be told.

Mysterious, magical and beautiful…

See for yourself!

Ban Jelačić, photo by Matko M. Švarc

Legend of the Croatian Coat of Arms: The King and the Chess Party

Did you know that the legend of the Croatian coat of arms is associated with King Stjepan Držislav?

King Stjepan Držislav fought a lot with the Venetians who wanted to conquer the Croatian Adriatic coast. In one such war, the king fell into slavery and was imprisoned in Venice.

Venetian Doge Peter II. Orseolo heard that King Držislav was a good chess player. So he gave him the following challenge: if he wins him in three games of chess, he will be released and he can return to his country.

King Držislav accepted the challenge and defeated the Venetian Doge in all three parties. Doge kept his word and the king was released.

Then, in gratitude, Držislav took the chessboard as the coat of arms of his nation in memory of that moment.

The Statue of King’s Tomislav, Zsgreb, photo by Matko M. Švarc

 

The legend of King Tomislav’s crown

During the 15th century, fighting took place in Croatia over the royal Hungarian-Croatian throne. The ruler of the common kingdom was to be crowned with the Hungarian crown of St. Stephen, and the Crown of King Tomislav.

According to legend, ships carrying the Croatian royal sign to Naples came under attack by one of the candidates for the throne. A ship carrying a scepter, a crown, and a sword hid in the Bay of Raška. According to legend, in that bay, in the bay of Blaž, Croatian royal symbols are hidden, and since then any trace of them has been lost.

About three hundred years later, an interesting event took place in the nearby village of Belavići. Namely, the Venetian governor visited the Istrian towns for tax collection and was usually hosted by the local village mayor according to the protocol. It was, in this case, Grgo Belavić, who after completing the administrative part, prepared a rich dinner with a lot of wine for the Venetian governor and his men. During dinner, when everyone fell under the influence of wine, the host briefly scrambled out of the house and shortly afterward returned with a crown on his head, a scepter in his hand, a cloak and other royal signs. He made a significant appearance in front of distinguished guests and disappeared again.

The next morning, with little recollection of the events, the Venetian governor asked the host about the strange event, but Grgo Belavić very firmly replied that nothing unusual had happened the previous evening except a good party. So everything is attributed to the influence of wine…

St. Mark’s Square, Zagre, photo by Matko M. Švarc

 

Legend of the Curse of King Zvonimir

 In this legend, Zvonimir is described as a king who aided the good and persecuted the wicked. During his time, people were satisfied and the cities were full of silver and gold. And great wealth was both in the Primorje and the Zagorje.

But at that time it happened that the Byzantine emperor, at the address of the Holy Father, sent letters and emissaries asking for help from the Christian and honest King Zvonimir.

In the first letter, he asked him to gather all the people of value. When the good and holy King Zvonimir received letters from the pope and emperor, he ordered all over his kingdom that knights and barons gather at five churches in the field near Kosovo (near Knin).

Zvonimir told them about the request so they could decide whether, together with another Christians, from other countries to which such letters were sent, and with the help of God, they would go to free the places where the son of God for our love and the redemption of the world suffered, where he gave his spirit to the Father, and where his glorious body was laid in the tomb. But when they heard this, “God-cursed and unbelieving Croats” began shouting at the holy king that he would take them out of their homes, from their wives and their children, and with the emperor to rob the places where Christ was crucified and where his grave was. And the unbelieving Croats attacked the good king with weapons and began to cut down his king’s body and shed his blood.

And the king, lying in blood, wounded, in great pain, cursed the Croatian people, saying: ‘May you never have the king of your blood again!’

Knin fortress, photo by Matko M. Švarc

 

The legend of Zagreb

 

The famous legend of the name of the city, in which an old ban, tired and thirsty, asked the girl Manda to fetch water from the spring. Ban said, “Mando, honey, zagrabi (it means grab). And that’s where the name for Zagreb and the famous fountain Manduševac on the main square (Ban Josip Jelačić Square) in Zagreb comes from.

Uncertain, like most legends, but in any case picturesque, as a kind of the first answer to the eternal question: Why are Zagreb women so charming and chic? Well, probably because she is the first of them, the one who, according to legend, found herself there at the moment when the name of the city was created because she was exactly like that. Namely, she had to be, while ban refers to her so beautifully and gently: Mando, honey, grab some water…

 

Ban Josip Jelačić, photo by Matko M. Švarc

 

The legend of Marco Polo

 

One of the most famous legends about Korčula is certainly the one that talks about the Korčula origin of the famous world traveler, Marco Polo. This legend is fueled by the historical fact that in the great naval battle between Venice and Genoa in 1298, near the town of Korčula, Marco Polo was captured at the age of 44.

Just three years earlier, he returned from his legendary journey to the Far East, which lasted for 17 years, where he met the most famous rulers of the time, their peoples and many customs. And only his journey through the Far East has the sound of a legend because it is hard to believe that one man could have traveled all this and experienced it in his human life.

 

Dubrovnik, Old Town, photo by Matko M. Švarc

 

 

 

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