Vampire of Kringa

I was spending a few days in Istria for business during the All Saints day so what better way to spend the night of a full moon than to visit one of the most special graveyards in the country. 

sign of Kringa in Istria
Entering Kringa, Half past 11 PM
Graveyard of Kringa
Graveyard of Kringa
Graveyard of Kringa and the main church
Graveyard of Kringa and the main church

Kringa is a small village in central Istria. With a population of only 300, this quiet place is home to one of the most eerie legends in all of Europe. The story of Jure Grando, the vampire of Kringa.

Vampire of Kringa

The story of Jure Grando is a spooky one. According to the legend, Jure died in 1656 but was still causing chaos for the next 16 years. Every night, the villagers would hear knocks on doors throughout the village, and whoever’s door was knocked on, would die within a few days. The villagers soon realized that Jure had returned from the dead as a vampire, known locally as a “strigon”, and was terrorizing the village.

Jure’s widow also had to deal with her undead husband’s visits every night. Jure would appear in her bedroom, smiling and gasping for breath, and would force himself upon her. This went on for 16 long years, until the villagers finally had enough. They were quite tolerant back then, I guess.

The villagers formed a group led by the village’s prefect and set out to hunt down and kill Jure.

They dug up his grave and found his perfectly preserved corpse with a smile on his face. The village priest, Giorgio, held out a cross and shouted “Behold Jesus Christ, you strigon! Stop tormenting us!” but nothing worked. 

One of the villagers, Stipan Milasic, came up with a plan and cut off Jure’s head, as soon as the blade tore his skin, the vampire screamed and blood flowed from the cut. And with that, peace finally returned to the village of Kringa.

Vampires are quite a common part of our popular culture nowadays and it all started from folk stories. That’s how we have gotten all these scary characters in literature and movies.

Circa 1800: An illustration from the penny dreadful ‘Varney the Vampire or the Feast of Blood’. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Kringa at Night
Kringa at Night

The Story of Jure Grando

But the story of Jure Grando was the first ever recorded one. In 1689. Slovenian naturalist Janez Valvasor wrote down this local story that later found its way to different books and possibly inspired all later works to this day.

However, there’s another version of the story that says Jure was a honest and hardworking man who fell victim to a tragic fate. He was a stonemason who lived in Grando Station and was in love with a woman named Ivana or Rosa. According to the customs at the time, there was a rule called “jus primae noctis” which gave the lord of the land the right to spend the first night with the bride.

Old Map of Istria
Kringa from Valvasor’s book

The monks of St. Peter in the Forest controlled Kringa and Jure opposed their use of this rule and wanted to protect Ivana and himself. The monks feared that Jure’s example would be followed by others in the village and ordered the mayor, Mihi Radetić, to kill him. But, the blow with a hammer only knocked Jure unconscious. People thought he was dead and buried him alive.

When he regained consciousness, he started calling for help from the grave. The mayor and the monk Juraj declared him a vampire and opened the grave, cut off his head and buried him again. In this way, they carried out the order of the monks, but also prevented Jure from telling what really happened. Since killed and suicides were not allowed to be buried in the cemetery, Jure Grando was buried outside of it. Today, it is believed that his grave is located under a stone path behind the church, near the current cemetery in Kringa.

Kringa today

Kringa is now a sleepy village. Quite literally at this moment as it was past midnight. I was fully embracing my inner vampire hunter, but alas, it seems Jure Grando is taking the night off. The only excitement I encountered was a pack of barking dogs that chased me out of the village.

I visited Kringa once before and had a chance to even visit the Jure Grando museum. It is a lovely village in Spring.

Jure Grando Museum
In the museum.
Spring inKringa

Well, since the vampire did not show up, there was nothing more to do and I left for Rovinj. It was long past my bedtime, anyways. 

Here is a link to video for those who don’t like to read read:

Best source on the legend is the article (in Croatian) written by the very villagers of Kringa: http://juregrando.com/