about festival
About Zagreb

A long time ago, a witches’ coven used to meet in the forests of Zagreb’s mountain Medvednica. People say that witches enchanted many men who would take them to the mountain and watch them dance. No-one was allowed to say a word about it; otherwise they would be gruesomely punished. Witches and warlocks would run off with women from the crossroads to the mountain where they would make a pact with the Devil, and become witches themselves. They would cast evil spells during their dances and feasts, and they would even send storms to surrounding towns.


The most famous and wicked was the mythical resident of Medvednica – The Black Queen. Various legends in many Croatian regions mention this powerful ruler. According to one folk story, the people had been desperate because of a great drought. The Black Queen answered their pleas and sent a tremendous rain that created the wonderful Plitvice Lakes. Others say that she was evil, even to her servants, and that nobody was allowed to enter her property, the medieval castle named Medvedgrad.


She possessed many beasts that guarded her, but her favorite was a sinister raven that frightened everybody. It was trained to attack the Black Queen’s enemies, digging out their eyes and tearing up their skin. Sometimes she would use it to harass her servants just for fun. When the Turks invaded the country and reached Medvedgrad, nobody wanted to help the Black Queen to defend her home because of her vileness. She called out to the Devil and promised to give him Medvedgrad in return. However, he did not respond, not until she offered herself to him. The Devil accepted the offer and rushed out the Turks.


But the Queen wanted to trick him, offering twelve buckets of gold to whoever carried her around the fortress three times so as to reverse the curse. Everybody failed, falling into infernal traps that the Devil had laid. The Queen was cursed even worse. When she died, she became a serpent queen, while her serpent servants still guard her treasure. A story goes that a young man managed to kill one of the snakes, but did not dare to take the gold, for he knew it was cursed. It happened in the tunnels that connect Medvedgrad to the Church of St. Mark in Zagreb or at some other nearby location in the Upper Town. But none shall pass through those halls until the curse is removed by kissing a large serpent that will transform back into the beautiful Black Queen. Some have tried, but at the last moment held back for fear of its attack. The treasure is still somewhere in those underground corridors that lead to the entrances to the so-called French mines on the Medvednica Mountain.