Jure Grando – the First Real Person Described as a Vampire in Europe

Jure Grando – the First Real Person Described as a Vampire in Europe

Inland Istria attracts nature and food lovers alike, especially those interested in His Majesty, the truffle, and the queen of Istrian wines, Malvasia. These delicacies can easily be found in the small village of Kringa, only 20 kilometres away from the beautiful seaside towns of Poreč, Vrsar and Rovinj. In this typical Istrian village, comprising of a church, stone houses, ancient Roman dry-stone walls and hospitable locals, it’s easy to forget about the outside world or what day it is.

Julien Duval / TZ Central Istria

However, a few hundred years ago, no one in Kringa even thought about hedonism and peace, as the earliest recorded vampire identified by name and surname in Europe roamed the village for 16 years. The legend of “štrigun” (the local name for a vampire at the time) has been passed down from generation to generation in Kringa, and it allegedly even inspired the works of Byron, Le Fanu and Stoker.

Are you Afraid of Vlad the Impaler? Wait Until You Hear the Story of the Istrian Strigoi Jure Grando

The terrifying story begins in Istria in 1656, when a man by the name of Jure Grando was buried. Shortly after the burial of the deceased, locals began seeing his apparition wandering the village with a dead sheep thrown over one of his shoulders, and a black cat over the other. Nights in the village, marked by Jura’s gruesome smile, sowed fear among the people of Kringa. He appeared before Father Giorgio, who held mass at his graveside, and Grando’s widow recounted the terrifying story of how her deceased husband visited her at night, harassing her.

 

The priest soon made a horrifying discovery. The man whose door Jure Grando knocked on in the middle of the night passed away within a few days. In those days, Kringa was truly a village of terror, especially after Father Giorgio and County Prefect Miho Radetić unsuccessfully tried to drive a stake through the monster’s heart.

Julien Duval / TZ Central istria

It wasn’t until one night in 1672 that nine brave villagers, armed with a hawthorn stake, crucifixes and other anti-vampire paraphernalia, decided to end Jura’s reign of terror. When they exhumed the body, their faces froze in fear as they saw that Grando’s body was completely preserved, and his rosy face was still smiling.

After trying to drive the hawthorn stake through his heart and guts and failing, a villager by the name of Stipan Milašić took a sharp axe and beheaded Jura. At that precise moment, a dreadful howl was heard across the cemetery, and the Istrian vampire began thrashing and twitching as if he were still alive.

 

At last, the “vampire slayers” succeeded. Kringa was liberated from the great evil, and peace and harmony returned to the village. It has remained so to this day, with the only “vampires” being those who can’t keep their hands off Istrian delicacies.