Pazin doesn’t feature highly in Croatian guidebooks, but hidden behind this apparently non-descript administrative town is a magnificent castle, perched on the edge of a dramatic gorge, with an enormous cave beneath. How this came to be depends on the tale you’re told. My favourite is that of the giant, Ban Dragonja.
The legend of Ban Dragonja
Houses on edge of Pazin gorge, IstriaOnce upon a time, when giants and men lived together in Istria, there were vast lakes and swamps in the north, but no water in the south. This made farming extremely hard, so the men asked the giant, Ban Dragonja, to help them by creating three great rivers. Dragonja agreed and yoked his enormous oxen to his plough.
First he ploughed south from one of the lakes. When the furrow touched the sea, water gushed through and a river formed. Ban Dragonja was delighted with his creation and named the river Dragonja, after himself (giants are known for their modesty!)
The next day he yoked his oxen up again and ploughed a second furrow, running eastward. It too flooded at the coast, creating a second large river which he named after his beloved wife, Mirna.