Take a Dip in the Dragon’s Eye

Take a Dip in the Dragon’s Eye

A large number of lakes in the world have a legend attached to them about a monster lurking in its depths. Loch Ness was made famous by Nessie, and Lake Okanagan by its most notable inhabitant, Ogopogo. But did you know that there is a lake in the very heart of Dalmatia that is home to dragons and aliens?

 

The small town of Rogoznica is a slice of heaven for everyone looking for some peace and quiet, where they can take in all the sounds, scents and flavours of the Mediterranean. It also offers a unique opportunity to swim in the saltwater lake right next to the sea, on the Gradina Peninsula.

 

The Rogoznica Lake is known colloquially as “Dragon’s Eye” (Zmajevo oko) because of its elliptical shape, and according to legend, it was created after a meteor crashed there. Although it has no direct surface connection with the surrounding sea, the two are interconnected through cracks and channels in the porous limestone, and a cave called “Dragon’s Ear” (Zmajevo uho). This lake is special in that it contains several layers of water, whose colours have been mixed by a talented painter of nature.

 

Near the surface, the water is green and blue, and in the centre it’s yellow and green. There is no oxygen in its bottom layers, and the high concentration of sulphur makes the water appear pink, red and purple.

Hrvoje Serdar
Once all the layers are intermixed, the water “boils”, and all of the living organisms move to the nearby sea because the lake loses oxygen. Once the conditions in the lake normalise, its water is filled with life again. Although there is a scientific explanation for the “boiling”, locals have come up with various legends to explain the phenomenon.

Do You Enjoy the Stories of Nessie and Ogopogo? Find Out What Lies at the Heart of Rogoznica

The most well-known among them, which gave the Dragon’s Eye Lake its name, tells the story of the terrifying dragon Murin, who was an illegitimate son of the goddess Hera and the god of sea, Poseidon. The giant monster ruled over the nearby island of Vela Smokvica, protecting its people from bandits and robbers, but in return, it required a blood sacrifice.

 

On the longest day of each year, Murin would be given the most beautiful girl to marry. None of the unlucky girls survived the first wedding night with the dragon, until Aristoles, the great-grandson of the Argonaut Jason, appeared riding the winged horse Pegasus. The glorious hero fell in love with a girl who was supposed to become the dragon’s next wife, and challenged the fearsome Murin to a duel.

 

The brave warrior inflicted a mortal wound on his vicious rival using a spear made by the goddess Athena with the help of Hephaestus and some moon dust. In its death throes, Murin gouged its own eyes with its sharp claws. It threw one of its eyes far beyond the island of Mljet, and the other slipped down to its feet and dissolved the rock it fell on. The sea poured into the hollow rock and created the lake with the symbolic name of Dragon’s Eye.

An old folk tale related to Murin says: if two people in love take a swim together, they will have a long, happy marriage, be faithful to each other for the rest of their lives, and their marriage will be blessed with eternal love and healthy children.

Another version of the legend tells the story of two brothers who lived here in ancient times, one of whom was blind. When the time came to divide the family fortune, the healthy brother tricked the blind one, who let out the frightful curse: “If you haven’t split the fortune evenly, our land will be swallowed by water, and a terrifying dragon will jump out of it.” And it came true – the beast jumped out of a rift in the ground and ate the dishonest brother.

 

The more imaginative people of Rogoznica expanded the story by adding aliens whose spaceship crashed to the bottom of the lake. The “boiling” mentioned above supposedly happens each time they try to contact their kind in space.

 

Dragons, aliens and meteorites in the lake – sounds like the set-up for a movie. But, you’re in luck; there is such a place in Rogoznica. So, if you ever have the chance, take a dip in the Dragon’s Eye.