Red and Blue Lakes: The Croatian Loch Ness

Red and Blue Lakes: The Croatian Loch Ness

Nature was at play in Imotski unlike anywhere else in the world. This town in the Dalmatian Hinterland, shielded by the protective embrace of Biokovo Mountain, contains two natural phenomena – Red and Blue Lakes, which have been the subject of numerous stories and legends over the years.


You can reach the Blue Lake (Modro jezero) beneath Topana Fortress on foot if you are in good shape, and there are at least three good reasons to do so. The first one is to take a swim in the lake, one that exhibits “50 shades of blue”, with a view of the surrounding cliffs, which you will remember for the rest of your life. The second one is the sight of fairies that soak in the beauty of the lake at dawn and at sunset – according to local legend, humans have never stepped foot in the nearby Fairy Cave (Vilinska pećina).

Zoran Jelača

The third and last reason revolves around sports – the Blue Lake dries up every few years, and the people of Imotski use this opportunity to play a football match on its bed. The lake derby between the “Werewolves” (Vukodlaci) and “Elves” (Vilenjaci) is in this area a spectacle even bigger than a UEFA Champions League final.

Gavan, Football and Fairies

The Red Lake (Crveno jezero) is situated approximately a kilometre and a half from the Blue Lake, and is much more mystical and mysterious. This lake is one of the deepest in Europe, and it got its name from the lacework of red rocks that surround it. It’s as though the ruthless rocks wanted to preserve its beauty – unlike the Blue Lake, you can’t swim in the Red Lake, nor reach it without high-quality mountaineering equipment. Picture the Red Lake as an open-air art gallery, which you can admire from afar.


The hypnotising beauty of the water hides beneath it a terrifying legend that has survived to the present day. Many years ago, a very wealthy man by the name of Gavan lived in the Imotski area with his wife Gavanica and their children. He had the outer appearance of a man, but his soul was that of the devil. He harassed his servants and the locals, and his only interest was hoarding wealth.


To witness Gavan’s arrogance first-hand, an angel descended down from heaven and came to his palace one night, disguised as a beggar asking for charity. The man’s wife Gavanica opened the door and refused to give him any food or water. When he asked her whether she feared God’s punishment, the arrogant rich woman responded curtly: What good is your God to me, when I have my Gavan?


At that exact moment, the angel took off his ragged clothes and pulled out a fiery sword. A violent tempest broke out, with thunder raging like wild horses. The ground shook so violently that it split open, and the deep holes, now occupied by the Red and Blue Lakes, swallowed up the Gavan family and their entire wealth.

The people of Imotski claim that the screams of Gavan and Gavanica can still be heard from the bottom of the lake when the bora wind blows, and that the remains of their palace can be seen during fine weather, when the water is calm.

In addition to this terrifying legend, the Red Lake has another interesting titbit attached to it – no one has ever been able to throw a rock in it. A lot of strong people have tried. They would take a run-up, use special throwing techniques, etc., but no one has ever heard a splash.