MOTO ISTRA • Myths & Legends


Ride the Dragon lines trough the ancient times of mystical Istria

Attila the king of Hun in Tinjan


Jure Grando, the vampire of Kringa

" In one dark night of 1672.  nine villagers of Kringa, led by the head of the village and a priest, went to the cemetery

to decisively deal with the menace that was terrorizing the village for 16 long years. Villager Jure Grando,

ever since he died 1656., started to rise every night from the grave, wandering, banging on the doors

of the houses ( in which someone died soon after ) and visiting and harassing his widow Ivana.

Nine executors unearthed the tomb of the undead night dweller and in it they find well preserved body

with rosy and grinning cheeks. After an unsuccessful stabbing with a hawthorn stake vampire was beheaded,

the grave filled in and Jure Grando harassed villagers of Kringa never again! "

Thus begins the legend of the oldest documented European vampire. The case of his execution,

in the village of Kringa near Tinjan, was first described by Slovenian historian and travel writer

Janez Vaikard Valvasor (1641. -  1693.) in his book "The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola" published 1689.

in Nuremberg. Transcribed in many old horror stories anthologies, the case of Jure Grando inspired

the appearance of vampire literature in the 19th century, from the novel "Vampire" by John Polidori (1819.),

through the most famous vampire novel Bram Stoker’s "Dracula" (1897), to the present day,

when Jure Grando becomes a hero for a dozen new books and films.

The Istrian Vampire


Epulon, the last king of Histrians

Epulon (Epulo, Epulone, Aepulo; ruled 181 – 177 BC) was a king or tribal leader of Histrians in northern Illyria.

Epulon conducted a series of wars against commanders sent by the Roman Republic during the

Roman expansion of the first half of the 2nd century BC, until his death in 177 BC. Rome had already

consolidated its conquest of various peoples of northern Italy, and established good relations with the

Adriatic Veneti. From there, Rome launched campaigns against the southern Illyrians of the Ardiaean Kingdom,

and the northern Illyrians of the northern Adriatic and eastern Alps. Threatened by imminent loss of independence,

Histrians launched a first, indecisive attack against the Romans, in 221 BC. Another attack, in 181 BC at the

new-founded colony of Aquileia, was beaten off by the Roman general Q. Fab Buteoni who established a

peace treaty with the Histrians. Later that year, Epulon became king of the Histrians; he was warlike,

uncompromising and persistent, and immediately prepared for battle against the Aquilean colony.

Rome sent an army in its defense in 178 BC, under A. Manli Vulzonin and another, larger force in 177 BC.

The Histrians made a successful attack on a Roman camp and the legions quickly fled in panic.

Epulon's forces took a great booty of valuables, equipment, food and wine. After initial successes in defeating

his enemies at Aquilea, Epulon was defeated in northern Istria and forced to withdraw

his forces to the Histrian capital of Nesactium. Before attacking Nesactium the Romans captured

other important Histrian centers in Istria. It is said that the Romans were at first unable to take Nesactium

and did not made any success in their lengthy siege of the city. Under C. Claudius Pulcher who had brought

two new legions, the success of their assault changed only when the Romans in a few days

diverted a river which protected Nesactium and provided them with water. The histrians chose to fight

rather than to surrender the city. The Histrians killed their women and children and threw them

from the city walls while at the same time fought the Romans. When Epulon realised that

the Romans had won, he committed suicide by stabbing himself with a sword to avoid Roman captivity.

The survivors were killed or captured. After the fall of Nesactium other Istrian cities so suffered the same faith.

Soon all of Istria was conquered as well as the independence of the Histrians.

According to Roman historian Livy 's " Ab Urbe Condita " :

" ... Epulon took his own life in order not to be caught alive ... others were killed or captured ...

war booty has surpassed expectations regarding the poverty of the local population...

5 632  Histrians were sold into slavery... ringleaders were beheaded... Ibid, 41.11 "


Epulon king of Histrians


Veli Joze, a giant of Motovun

According to legends, Istria in the past had lots of giants, which were poisoned by the people,

leaving one in each city to serve them. So the Giants cultivated fields, tamed wild beasts and did

other toughest jobs, looked with contempt and disdain by the dwarves. Veli Joze belonged to residents of Motovun,

which treated him badly, and the most the giant could do in return was to shake Motovun tower.

One day he was sent to Venice and on the board met oarsman slave on the galley named Elijah, a giant with no legs,

who had taught him the meaning of freedom. Galley disappeared in the storm but Joze was saved and swam to the Istrian coast.

Then he sought other giants, urging them to revolt. That they eventually did, but elves managed to alienate and divide them

using gold and wine as a bribe. All returned as servants to their cities, except Veli Joze, who hided in the mountains

waiting for better moment for the realization of freedom.


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