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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Before The Vampire Lestat, Before Bram Stoker's Dracula, Before Bela Lugosi There Was.......The Vampire Jure Grando Alilovič

Jure Grando wine. Image:

This is a step back a few years, but a story that is interesting enough to be told again here in this post. A short introduction about the little known fact (to the unaware that is) of the vampire Jure Grando Alilovič, or locally known more simply as Jure Grando of Kringa. (In Croatian pronounced as you-rey,/grond-o/ah-leelow-vich). In the 17th century, he was referred to by the local Croatian word as a strigoi, štrigon or štrigun, something resembling an undead warlock, or also a sort of a witch/sorcerer. There have been vampire, werewolf,  witch, ghost and other creatures of the night tales told in many parts of Europe, however this was the first classical vampire to be mentioned in documented records. This story you won't find included on most tourist brochures when visiting the Istrian peninsula of Croatia. Most will deal with Luxury Villas for tourists to rent when coming to the town of Kringa, or be focused more on the larger towns and cities closer to the coast.

However, I also decided to add the interesting related story of the Vampire Bar 'Jure Kringo' which opened for business at the time these articles first came out, and the legend became more known.  Some believe the legend of Jure Grando may even have influenced Bram Stoker when he was writing his famous novel "Dracula." (I don't know if the vampire bar is still there, in case you ever decide to visit the Istra region of Croatia, you may want to read up and check before hand to make sure there are some vampire vixens waiting for you) Vampire, witch, lycan, ghost and other supernatural stories and legends have a long history in Croatia,  some that predate more modern times and reach back to our pagan beginnings. Hallowe'en and all the related accoutrements jacko-o-lanterns, etc, are popular in Croatia. Read on for more about the intriguing (and first documented) case of the Vampire Jure Grando....if you dare.....Buhuhahaha...

(Note-I had a  landlord once, one of those weird born again fundamentalist types, who got a bee in his bonnet when he saw some books of mine on medieval witches. history of supernatural Europe, paranormal mysteries, as well as a Bram Stoker and some Anne Rice novels on a book shelf. (He was also obsessively always trying to have me invest in his cultish "Amway business" to sell lots of his Amway soaps, shampoos, detergents and Amway pyramid schemes for "the Master", to lurk and get people hooked on cleaning supplies and soaps only through mail). For those kinds of people who obsessively go around looking for penises, sex messages and genitalia in cartoons, but also ignore the crack dealers and miscreants on their very doorstep, all I can say about those kinds of people is don't read this post. Don't read classic literature, don't look at art, don't you dare go to the beach, don't vote because you'll just end up voting for Lucifer...don't watch movies or television, don't ...(Especially Francis Ford Coppola films obviously), don't read history or archaeology books, don't read about ancient civilizations or ancient folk stories or legends, don't read philosophy or science books or authors, just don't. All you have to do is get yourself a nice wholesome family Walt Disney cartoon dvd...(with good frame by frame slow motion and backwards features) and then maybe open and start reading your bible and proceed finding those dagnabit vaginas, penises and olive oily genitalia of all sorts. (There's tons of things in there that you're not supposed to be doing or thinking and instead be doing and thinking other things. You should actually be reading it right now instead of this post, what the hell is wrong with you?).

Also, as just some supplementary information to the reader, some other interesting notes about this topic. Birthmarks, or the vampire birth mark will appear on the body that was not there previously, according to some sources and folk legends. This mark will not go away and it just appears. It is not an injury from something that happened in the physical world or present day. It is a mark that appears from a past life. Along with the birthmark comes psychic abilities- prior knowledge of future events, telepathic abilities- concerning elements, forces of nature and animals. Healing by touch- vampires can touch people and relieve/soothe pain and sometimes heal by touch. They can then speak to animals, vampires will have familiars and they can talk to them. Vampire familiars can be human, animal or a force of nature. Elevation of vampires usually happens during the awakening process, the vampire may have objects or even themselves float either while awake or in dreams. Vampires are immortal reincarnated souls born each lifetime into mortal families with immortal souls. Sometimes the vampire experience is so powerful that it pours over from past life regression. To realize one was a vampire in a past life, is a vampire in this life.

There are numerous old legends and folklore traditions in Central and Eastern Europe also, and not just Croatia, included. Those looking for a historical "real" vampire often cite Romanian prince Vlad Tepes (1431-1476). The characterization of Tepes as a vampire, however, is a distinctly recent Western one; in Romania, he is viewed not as a blood-drinking sadist but as a national hero who defended his empire from the advancing Muslim Ottoman Turkish armies as well as their Saracens and Moors. There are actually no firmly established characteristics about vampires. (The modern word and terminology "vampire" comes from a common Slavic word obyri or obiri, also upirina in Croatian, up'r in old Russian, then later vapir/vepir/vampir, also known before as strigoi, štrigon or štrigun or nosferatu and other names. These first "vampires" differed considerably from the popular image of a creature that evolved in 20th century novels. fiction books and movies, at times they take on the characteristics of what is also known as a werewolf. (Croatian: vukodlak, Polish wilkołak, Czech vlkodlak, Slovak vlkolak, Slovenian volkodlak, Bulgarian/Macedonian върколак (vrkolak), Belarusian ваўкалак (vaukalak), Ukrainian вовкулака (vovkulaka), all meaning "wolfs hair." (Lithuanian vilkolakis and vilkatas, Latvian vilkatis and vilkacis).

Croatia’s claim to be the cradle of the modern vampire doesn’t just rest on this case of Jure Grando. Local folklore is full of references to the creatures of the night, from blood-drinking vampires known as the vukodlaci, to nocturnal spirits called ‘more’ who visit sleeping humans and suck up all their energies – leaving them all clammy and exhausted in the morning.

In the romantic movement in Europe during the Enlightenment era, the vampire became a common theme and moved from country mythology into the elegant salons and castles. (Coincidentally, a legend has it that in 1451 Vlad Țepeș, also known as Vlad Dracula, found temporary refuge at Ozalj Castle in northwestern Croatia for a time before returning back to Wallachia and Transylvania). However, vampire and werewolf stories and legends abound in Central and Eastern Europe from Croatia to Poland and from Germany to Russia and the Baltic nations. In the west vampires are a much more recent phenomena, becoming mostly known from 19th and 20th century literature and films, a more contrived version with characteristics much different from the original vampires.The various vampire legends that were recorded extend back to the Late Middle Lges in Europe, and even much further back in time.

Already for many centuries in the Dalmatian region of Croatia, there is a female vampire called a Mora or Morana, who drinks the blood of men, and also the kuzlac/kozlak who are the recent-dead. They can be men or women who show themselves at crossroads, bridges, caves, and graveyards and frighten the locals by terrorizing their homes and drinking their blood. To be killed, a wooden stake must be thrust through them. In Croatia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, there is a type of vampire called pijavica, which literally translates to "drinker"

In modern day books, novels and films many times the "vampire" is portrayed as formerly being a count or an aristocrat or belonging to some other privileged class, (because it makes for more entertaining novels perhaps), but in truth many of the legends and folk tales revolve around someone who was previously a soldier or warrior of some sort, or sometimes just an unknown peasant, farmer or commoner (male or female), such as the case presented here. Interestingly, despite being set in Transylvania, Bram Stoker’s Dracula resembles Jure Grando much more closely than the 15th-century Romanian prince Vlad Dracul.

Some view that the vampire is a result of wrongs done to him/her during their life, and when they mysteriously appear again in undead form, (whatever the particular form may be), they are simply returning to exact a just revenge or right wrongs from the past. If so, then it is those who committed the wrongs who made their own worst fears and nightmares come true, (perhaps even you), truly then the vampire is us, he is a part of us and we have created him, the vampire never asked to be a vampire. There is only you to blame for all that transpires and unfolds and not the vampire. Now then, on with the legend.....

Croatian "Dracula revived" to lure tourists 



KRINGA, Croatia (AFP) — As evening mist slowly embraces this village in the heart of Croatia's picturesque Istrian peninsula, a few young enthusiasts gather in a bar trying to revive the legend of a 17th century local Dracula.

Sitting in a red velvet chair in the "Vampire" bar, decorated with garlic wreaths and lamps with crosses, Mladen Rajko explains how local tourist authorities launched a project last year called "Jure Grando, the Vampire from Kringa".

"No one is claiming that vampires or evil forces exist, all we want is to promote a documented legend in order to boost what we can offer tourists," says Rajko, 28, head of the nearby municipality of Tinjan.

Croatia is already a hotspot destination for foreigners with some ten million tourists — more than the double the local population — visiting the beautiful Adriatic coast of the European country last year.

The first document on Jure Grando, dating back to the 17th century, was written by his contemporary Janez Vajkard Valvasor, a Slovenian travel writer and historian.

In his 15-tome work "Die Ehre of Hertzogthums Crain" (The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola), which was published in Nuremberg, Germany in 1689: it was an artistic work composed of fifteen books and four volumes, comprising 3523 pages of large format and 533 illustrations, many of which show the way of life and of landscapes of the Istria region and tells the story heard when he visited Kringa.

According to the legend, for 16 years after his death and burial Grando terrorized his former fellow-villagers, notably his widow.

At night he wandered the area knocking on the doors of houses, many of whose inhabitants later died, it said.

The lustful demon paid regular visits to his widow, forcing her to continue fulfilling her marital duties.

Eventually, in 1672 a group of nine local men decided that they had to put an end to the menace.

Upon opening his grave they saw Grando, his body intact, smiling at them.

After the first attempt to drive a hawthorn stake through his corpse failed because the wood rebounded, the bravest of the nine eventually managed to decapitate the body, bringing to an end Grando's reign of terror, the legend said.

"Grando already has all the characteristics of future literary vampires — who appear some 150 years later — he is a cynic, challenges both civil and church authorities and is sexually active," explains Boris Peric, a writer who investigated the issue.

"The story was later taken and quoted by various authors from theologians to historians," he said, adding that German writer Herman Hesse published an account of Grando in an anthology early in the 20th century. Grando was also mentioned in writings by Erasmus Fracisci (1627-1694) and Johann Joseph von Görres (La Mystique divina, naturelle, et diabolique, Paris 1885)

Peric says he believes Grando served as one of the models for his future literary counterparts, possibly even for Irish writer Bram Stoker's "Dracula", which is said to be partly inspired by cruel Romanian Prince Vlad Tepes the Impaler.

Although the legend of the "Istrian vampire" — in the local dialect called a "strigun" — never died, Grando's name was slowly forgotten, he explained, until now.

Aerial view of the village of Kringa.

The story gradually returned to prominence only after Croatia's first edition of Stoker's "Dracula" in 1999, as Valvasor's story was mentioned in a preface written by Peric.

In August last year, eight months after its opening, the "Vampire" bar hosted the first exhibition linked with the legend.

This year, the bar has monthly "Vampire Nights" featuring appearances by horror literature writers, while a science fiction and horror literature festival will be staged in Kringa on August 11.

A plaque to the memory of the nine courageous villagers who defeated the demon will be also unveiled, Rajko says, adding the event would start with a symbolic blood donation drive.

However, those promoting the legend are aware that they have to do it rather cautiously as they still face opposition in the small conservative community, notably from the elderly and the Church.

Kringa, a typical Istrian village whose stone houses fight for space at the top of a hill surrounded by forest trees, is located about a six miles southwest of the central Istrian town of Pazin.

A view from the old graveyard in Kringa.

The younger generation in Kringa, which has around 300 inhabitants, are the most supportive of the idea to make the village a destination for Dracula fans.

They are already planning to create a range of souvenirs and open apartments for tourists, while middle-aged residents of the village are beginning to change their minds.

"We want to prepare good infrastructure first. Our goal is to make tourists visit Kringa and spend a few interesting hours here," said Rajko.

One of the first locals to recognize Kringa's potential for "vampire tourism" was Mirjana Fabris, who is already turning her family house into an inn, offering local specialties.

"I believe that I will decorate one room in vampire style — red velvet with a lot of mirrors," said the 35-year-old.

The production of souvenirs — including garlic-scented candles, sour-cherry "Grandina" brandy and red "Jure Grando" wine — is also to start soon.

Plaque in the town of Kringa explaining in Croatian the history of the vampire Jure Grando.

Vampire Soul, Vampire Blade or Vampire Orgasm are some of the cocktails already offered in the bar.

Both Rajko and the watering hole's owner, Robert Hrvatin, express regret that the Church has remained completely silent over the issue, saying it might have information on the location of Grando's grave.

Among locals, there are several versions of what is really behind the legend which is passed from one generation to another.

Some say Grando was a thief who proclaimed himself dead in order to further his business, while some even claim the widow invented the demon in order to cover up her lover.

Rajko prefers to quote a late local priest: "It is proof that one has to admit that there were, there are and there will be things which simply cannot be explained."

2006 Agence France-Presse.

A few updated images from the premiere of a new play "Vampirska Kronika: Jure Grando" (Vampire Chronicles: Jure Grando). Photogallery and more information:

Some interviews with locals and scenes of the town of Kringa where the 'Jure Grando' vampire incidents took place. (In Croatian)

The Legend of  Jure Grando


Jure Grando or Giure Grando (? - 1656) was the first classical vampire to be mentioned in documented records. In his native village of Kringa, in the Istria region of Croatia but at that time administered by the Republic of Venice, he was referred to as a strigoi, štrigon or štrigun, a local word for something resembling a vampire and a warlock


Jure Grando Alilovič was a peasant who lived in Kringa, a small place in the interior of the Istrian peninsula near Tinjan. He died in 1656, but according to legend, he came back as a vampire (štrigon) and terrorized his village until his decapitation in 1672. According to the legend, for 16 years after his death, Jure would arise from his grave by night and terrorize the village causing fear. The village priest, Giorgio, who had buried Jure sixteen years previously discovered that at night somebody would knock on the doors around the village, and on whichever door he knocked, someone from that house would die within the next few days.

Jure also appeared to his terrified widow in her bedroom, who described the corpse as looking as though he was smiling and gasping for breath, and would then have sex with her. She soon told the local prefect and mayor  Miho Radetić about what had happened. Later when Father Giorgio eventually came face to face with the vampire, he held out a cross in front of him and yelled "Behold Jesus Christ, you vampire! Stop tormenting us!" According to one account, at that moment tears fell from the vampire's eyes, yet another account that he simply grinned and laughed. The bravest of the villagers was the prefect mayor so he chased and tried to kill the vampire by piercing his heart with a hawthorn stick, but failed because the stick just bounced off of his chest.

One night later, nine people went to the graveyard, carrying a cross, lamps and a hawthorn stick. They dug up Jure's coffin, and found a perfectly preserved corpse with a smile on its face. Father Giorgio said: "Look, štrigon, there is Jesus Christ who saved us from hell and died for us. And you, štrigon, you cannot have peace!" They then tried to pierce its heart again, but the stick could not penetrate its flesh. After some exorcism prayers, the one villager, Stipan Milašić, took a saw and sawed the head off. As soon as the saw tore his skin, the vampire screamed and blood started to flow from the cut, and soon the whole grave was full of blood. According to legend, peace finally returned to the region only after Jure's decapitation in 1672. According to sources, Ana and Nikola Alilovič, the daughter and son of Jure, fled from Kringa to Volterra Italy at young ages in the hopes of escaping all the mysterious events that took place.

 From Valvasor's published work "Die Ehre of Hertzogthums Crain" showing a sketch of the nearby fort town of Rijeka and Trsat Castle in 1689.


Carniolan scientist Johann Weikhard von Valvasor wrote about Jure Grando's life and afterlife in his extensive work The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola when he visited Kringa during his travels. This was the first written document on vampires.  Grando was also mentioned in writings by Erasmus Francisci and Johann Joseph von Goerres (La mystique divina, naturelle, et diabolique, Paris 1855), whose story was much more elaborate and sensational, full of fantastic details to make the story more interesting and sensational. In modern times, Croatian writer Boris Perić has researched the legend and written a book (The Vampire) on the story.

Modern Times

Today, Kringa has embraced the story of Jure Grando and have opened up a vampire themed bar aimed at attracting tourists to the town The Juraj Dobrila gymnasium in Pazin created a short film called "Vampire of My Homeland" (Vampir moga zavičaja) based on the writings from Valvasor.

The folklore related to the štrigun has recently been documented and examined by numerous scientists at the University of Zagreb.

Vampire bar in Kringa, Tinjan 



The vampire of Kringa first appeared in text form in 1689. The Kringa vampire story evolves around a Kringa inhabitant by the name of Jure Grando (Giure Grando). For 16 years after his death and burial in Kringa Jure Grando terrorized Kringa, notably his widow (who as legend would have it was forced to continue fulfilling her marital duties) other Kringa residents and relatives were also affected.

Rumour has it that the vampire of Kringa, Jure Grando, would roam the streets of Kringa at night, knocking on doors, these residents who answered would soon after die. In 1672 nine Kringa villages decided enough was enough, carrying the cross, lamps and hawthorn stick they went to the grave of Jure Grando. On opening the grave it is said that the body was intact and was lying still staring up at them.

The 9 Kringa villages attempted to destroy the body. There first attempt of driving a hawthorne stake through him failed but eventually and after some exorcism prayers, the body of Jure Grando was decapitated by Stipan Milasic with a saw, the vampire screamed and blood started to flow, and soon the entire coffin was full of blood.

In 1656 the vampire of Kringa died, but it was not until 1672  that he was decapitated as a vampire, supposedly. In the village of Kringa amongst the many stone cottages you will see large crosses erected for defence and the local bar is aptly named the vampire bar.

Sitting in a red velvet chair in the "Vampire" bar, decorated with garlic wreaths and lamps with crosses, Mladen Rajko explains how local tourist authorities launched a project last year called "Jure Grando, the Vampire from Kringa".

"No one is claiming that vampires or evil forces exist, all we want is to promote a documented legend in order to boost what we can offer tourists," says Rajko, head of the nearby municipality of Tinjan.

Visit Vampire bar in Kringa by tourning right on the road Poreč-Pazin, just before Tinjan and follow the signs.

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Croatia has many legends, old folk stories and a long history of spirits, unexplained mysteries, paranormal and the supernatural. It's something to keep in mind next time you're there or in unfamaliar surroundings. Image:

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