The Black Queen’s Downfall

The Black Queen’s Downfall

Just above the picturesque part of Zagreb called Šestine, on the slopes of Medvednica Mountain, lies the hiking trail No. 13, one of the most popular trails where Zagrebians come to soak in the colours and the scents of the forest on the weekends.


A light one-hour walk on the Miroslavec educational trail, through the “50 shades of green”, will lead you to Queen’s Well, a well-known symbol of the mountain. A bench beside the lake practically invites you to sit and watch the reflections of the beautiful trees on the surface of the water, accompanied by the sound of birds in the background.


The Queen’s Well now serves as an oasis of peace, but a long time ago, horrible events took place here that are still the stuff of legends in the surrounding areas. In mid-fifteenth century, Medvedgrad Fortress on the southern slopes of Medvednica was home to the infamous Counts of Cilli, who sowed fear and terror among the inhabitants of Zagreb. An especially terrifying member of the family was Countess Barbara of Cilli (known locally as Barbara Celjska). Although historical records show her as the wife of Sigismund of Luxembourg, King of Hungary and Croatia, the common folk referred to her as the evil Black Queen, who gave rise to many frightening legends.

According to folklore, the Black Queen was a cruel woman with long black hair, who was always dressed in black, as the name suggests. Since she dabbled in black magic, she was able to control various beasts. The scariest one among these was a raven as black as the night, which was trained to gouge the eyes and tear off the skin of those who crossed its mistress.

Queen’s Well: A Mysterious Water Source in 50 Shades of Green

 All of the maleficence of her black soul came to light one day, when a great drought struck Medvednica and its surroundings. All of the springs and streams dried up, except a well at Medvedgrad. The thirsty locals headed for the castle to beg for some water, but the Black Queen arrogantly denied them the precious liquid and left them to the mercy of wild forest animals.


As death approached, and their throats became as dry as sand, they found a cold spring in the forest that wasn’t there before. As soon as they began drinking the water, spurred on by thirst and fear, the Black Queen’s spring at Medvedgrad, which she so selfishly kept to herself, suddenly dried up.

Denis Kovačić

In turn, the spring of water in the middle of the forest that saved the locals from dying of thirst was given the name “Queen’s Well”. The water from the spring, which is the source of the Kraljevac stream, still flows effortlessly, quenching the thirst of any tired visitors who find themselves on the Zagreb Mountain.