Vampires of Makarska Riviera

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

Stories of the undead coming back to feast on the blood of the living are as old as the world itself. From Japan's Kyuuketsuki to the Native American's Wendigo, this myth is a part of every civilization. We are talking, of course, about vampires.


We all know about Bram Stoker's Dracula. Some even know about Istria's Jure Grando, the first real person described as a vampire in Europe. But did you know that the myth of vampires originated in the Balkans and that it's very much a part of the oldest Croatian stories and legends? Well, it's no different in Makarska Riviera, where beliefs of vampirism were recently documented in the mountain village of Kotisina.

View of Makarska from Kotisina village
View of Makarska from Kotisina village

During the renovation of church of St. Martin in Kotisina, archaeological work uncovered two very interesting graves. Correct dating of the graves is not yet known, but it is presumed to be somewhere between 15th and the 19th century.


Graves where intentionally filled and covered with mounts of stone, and then sealed with quicklime. This, of course, all points to the belief that it's the only way to stop vampires from rising again from their grave and attack nearby villagers.

To make this story even creepier, in both graves archaeologists discovered nails. Nails, according to some stories, were used to pierce the bodies of vampires so they never wake up.


The church of St Anthony in Kotisina near Makarska in Croatia
The church of St Anthony in Kotisina

It's hard to imagine living in small village under Biokovo mountain somewhere between 15th and 19th century and fearing every night that someone you know, someone who died, might knock on your door. It's hard to imagine the horror they must have felt after burying someone they believed would come back as a monster. But that was very much a reality in Kotisina, as evidenced by the two vampire graves.


We know now that the vampire myth was connected to deathly illnesses and diseases such as plague. Makarska Riviera had an outbreak of plague in 1815 and it's possible that these graves come from that time. Actually, covering the graves of plague victims in quicklime would have very much helped in stopping the spread of the plague, so at least there is some use from the superstitions of the old.


Do vampires still live in Kotisina near Makarska, Croatia?
Regular bats or vampires coming back to life?

Makarska's peninsula of St Peter is also a known plague graveyard, although recently it's also have been discovered to be a much older location with newly discovered ruins of the fort from somewhere between 3000 and 2000 BC.