From mummies to murder, Croatia is the scene of truly macabre sights. And what better day to visit them than All Saints Day which is a national holiday in Croatia? Here’s what to see:
The Mummies of Vodnjan
Not far from Pula in Istria, lies the sleepy town of Vodnjan and the even sleepier mummies that repose in in the town church of St Blaise. The clothed bodies of St. Leon Bembo (d. 1188), St. Ivan John Olini (d. 1300), and St. Nicoloza Bursa (above d. 1512) lie wooden and staring behind glass. For mysterious reasons the bodies of these local saints failed to decompose, perhaps because of the good deeds they performed in their lifetimes? Healing energy supposedly wafts around the body of the latter saint. More on visiting Vodnjan.
Lying just a short bus ride from central Zagreb, Mirogoj cemetery provides everything necessary for a truly luxurious Eternal Slumber. Designed by Herman Bolle at the end of the 19th century, Mirogoj is a festival of graceful arcades, elegant pavilions and gentle domes. The lush greenery is peaceful and dotted with sculptures and sculptured tombs. Famous residents include the poet Petar Preradovic and political leader Stjepan Radic. Look for the bust of Vladimir Becic by Ivan Mestrovic.
Maybe some of the departed souls in Miragoj were victims of torture? Probably so since the practice was once widespread. A new museum in Zagreb provides grisly insight into the exact methods used. The Tortureum allows visitors to see, touch and even try 70 torture devices including the Iron Maiden, the Rock, and Scold’s Bridle. Specially designed multimedia rooms allow the visitor to experience the fear and discomfort of torture victims.
Just offshore celebrated Dubrovnik is a tiny island that is said to be haunted. The fact is that the island of Daksa was the scene of a massacre of Nazi sympathizers in 1944 and the bodies lay unburied for decades. Now the island is for sale but no one is buying. Seamen claim that the victims can be heard groaning on dark and stormy nights.
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Perched in the hills surrounding Zagreb, Veliki Tabor is a romantic collage of turrets, towers and tiny windows but the interior harbours a shattering secret surrounding the death of Veronika of Desinic. According to the story, Veronika was a poor young lass who caught the eye of the wealthy son of the castle’s owner. His father was displeased with the romance, putting his own son in jail and drowning Veronika. Her body was bricked up in the wall behind the entrance and it’s said that on stormy nights you can still hear her wailing. One of the grislier displays is a woman’s skull which was actually found within the walls during the castle renovation.
Zadar Sea Organ
Zadar’s famous sea organ is not actually emitting the sounds of dead souls but it certainly sounds like it. Designed to transform the sound of waves into music via a network of pipes, tubes and whistles, the mournful sounds that it creates would provide the perfect soundtrack to an Edgar Allan Poe story. Go at night.