The Dragon of Trsat, the Peacekeeper of Rijeka

The Dragon of Trsat, the Peacekeeper of Rijeka

If you are looking for a part of Rijeka that offers the most beautiful views of the city, then Trsat is the place for you. The small, quiet world on top of the hill above the Kvarner beauty offers the perfect views of the city in the valley, of the sea stretching out to infinity, and the islands lying in the sun. A walk around the charming streets will quickly lead you to the Trsat Castle, one of the oldest fortifications in the Croatian Littoral region, which has been watching over Rijeka since ancient Roman times. In the shadow of the tower, you’ll notice a building that resembles a Roman temple, with the inscription Mir junaka (“Heroes’ Peace”). This is the mausoleum of the Nugent family, the owners of the castle built a few hundred years ago whose entrance is guarded by two winged creatures.

Ivo Biočina

These are the mythical basilisks, creatures with the head of a rooster, the body of a dragon and the tail of a snake, which are known as the “Trsat dragons” in Rijeka’s folk tradition. In many of the legends, dragons and basilisks are represented as evil beasts that sow fear and terror among people, but the story of the Trsat dragon is entirely different.

The Story of A Dragon With A Heart of Gold Who Became Too Attached To People

A long time ago, there was a dragon that lived in a cave above Trsat, who was kind to people, and evil to those who wanted to harm his city. The giant creature followed the same ritual every day. It would leave the cave, check on the city that was just waking up, and then stretch its wings with great satisfaction. It would then gaze at the tense surface of the sea, where its main nemesis lay in wait – a giant octopus that lived in the mysterious depths of the Kvarner Bay.

 

One morning, the dragon noticed a girl sitting on the bank of the Dead Channel (Mrtvi kanal), diligently drawing tiny boats on a piece of paper. The Trsat guardian was watching the surface of the water intently, trying to spot the octopus. His anxiety for the child was soon interrupted by the arrival of the girl’s father, the mayor.

 

The girl was sad because she couldn’t finish her drawing, but her father’s gentle voice promised her that she could finish it another day. The octopus overheard their conversation and learned that the girl would be alone at the shore again. The next morning, the mayor’s daughter happily sat down on the beach, took out her paper and began completing her drawing. The cunning octopus came closer and soon grabbed her leg with its tentacles. However, the dragon was ready for it. In the blink of an eye, it reached the shore, jumping to the girl’s rescue.

The octopus tried hard to grab the dragon’s wings with its tentacles, but in doing so, it dropped the child on the shore. This was the beginning of a battle to the death. The dragon spit fire at the giant octopus, which had to retract its giant tentacles. The dragon then grabbed it with its sharp claws and threw it all the way to the town of Grobnik, where it ended up on the fish market.

The next day, the girl headed for the cave to give the dragon her drawing as a token of appreciation, but the dragon wasn’t there. The Trsat saviour flew off when he realised that he had become too attached to people. However, the girl’s father had an idea of how to keep alive the memory of the brave creature that saved his daughter – he had two bronze statues erected at Trsat, which keep the peace in Rijeka to this day.