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Dragons above Makarska Riviera

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

There are so many interesting, but scary, mythological stories about Makarska Riviera no one told you about, and we're here to break the ice. Although the first to break the ice were brave inhabitants of Biokovo who dealt with different scary stories and myths, but also real events. For centuries, this magnificent giant mountain was a kind of deity for its inhabitants in countless ways. Not only that it was agricultural land and a cattle farm, but also a safe haven. Its deep pits, numbering dozens, back in days were human's homes and workplaces. Some of those pits, explored years later, tell their stories that were passed down from generation to generation.

View of Biokovo mountain from Osejava peninsula in Makarska
View of Biokovo from Osejava peninsula

Put aside the tribes which later formed the hamlets and villages here, Biokovo mountain was, according to the stories, also a dragons' runway. Rising high above the sea, Biokovo seemed to be a perfect viewpoint for those mythological creatures who, because of the ideal location of the mountain, sometimes did not even have to fly for the territory control. They had the whole Makarska Riviera, inland and the islands at the palm of their hand.

Legend says that dragons' echoes can still be heard, if you listen carefully.

The legend of Saint George and the Dragon speaks of Saint George (died in 303) taming and slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices; the saint thereby rescued the princess chosen to be the dragon's next offering. The narrative was first set in Cappadocia (today Turkey) in the earliest sources of the 11th and 12th centuries, but the story somehow ended up here, at the top of the Biokovo mountain. It's not entirely clear how the Makarska Riviera's highest peak was named after St George, but some of the old stories say this event really took place on the Biokovo mountain. Biokovo, especially the marginal parts of it, was inhabited in prehistoric times, long before the writing appeared.

Here's one interesting "sports - mythical" link. Most sports clubs in Croatia have traditional names, names that have been around for years, describing national heroes, movements or location specifies, but Makarska's football club Zmaj (meaning dragon) is a bit different. Hajduk Split, Dinamo Zagreb and Rijeka are the most popular football clubs in Croatia and some of the significant athletes from those clubs, later became worldwide known, started their career in Makarska, at the foot of Biokovo, wearing a fire-red jerseys and representing "the dragons" from Makarska.

Makarska's the most recognizable "dragon" is Alen Boksic, a former Croatian footballer whose skills are still celebrated in Italy's Serie A.

Regarded to as one of the greatest players in the history of the Croatia national football team, Alen Boksic moved from Makarska to Hajduk Split as a young player and was introduced into the first team (1987–91). What happened afterwards is a story for a documentary series.