The magical natural heritage of the Ogulin region, its turbulent historical events and interesting local happenings and its people, have always ignited the imagination of the inhabitants of Ogulin’s surroundings. Folk traditions have also enriched every corner of our region and present us with the exceptional intangible heritage of our ancestors. The greatest contribution to raising the value of folklore was made by Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić in her autobiography and Priče iz davnine (Tales of Long Ago).
Folk legends have even been interpreted in the emergence of Klek itself, long ago when gods and giants lived on the earth. The gods kept all the food and drink for themselves. This caused dissatisfaction amongst the giants, and one of them – Klek went to war with the god Volos, who turned everything he wanted into stone with a magical sword. At the place where today the Klek mountain sits the god of Volos turned the giant Klek to stone. Before he was turned to stone, Klek swore that he would wake up and seek his revenge. Coincidently or not, at the foot of Klek the River Dobra flows out which our ancestors believed were the veins of Klek, and that during stormy nights the witches of Klek would gather and try to wake up Klek the giant from his centuries’ of sleep. Who knows, maybe one day they will succeed.
One of the legends noted by Valvasor comes from the 17th century – the legend about the witches of Klek. According to this legend witches, fairies, and elves from all around the world gather in Klek during stormy nights. As they dance there their cries and screams can be heard even as far as Ogulin.
Klek’s vertical rock is two hundred metres high and people still tell the legend of a beautiful princess who was transformed into a snake and who lies inside the rock on a pile of golden ducat coins. Every hundred years the rock opens. If a brave boy kisses the snake it will transform itself into a beautiful girl who will then be willing to marry the brave courageous boy. The pile of ducats will then become her dowry.
Klek is well known as a magical mountain, where, apart from witches, mountain fairies also come. These are beautiful women, dressed in white with the ability to fly, they are good and help people. Where there are fairies, there are also fairy waters and fairy water flows from the Cesarovac Spring. Legends say that every woman who drinks the water from Cesarovac will become beautiful and forever young, but if a man drinks the water from spring then he will marry a girl from Ogulin.
The abyss of the River Dobra got its name from a young girl whose name was Đula or Zulejka. The legend dates from the 16th century. Zulejka was of noble origin and her parents, as was the custom in those times, promised her to an elderly nobleman. Meanwhile, after a great battle against the Turks, a young captain Milan Juraić from the border arrived in Ogulin. He defended the Frankopan fort in Tounj. When Zulejka saw him she fell in love at first sight. Milan was killed in a battle against the Turks, and when Zulejka heard this she threw herself into the abyss of the River Dobra. So this is how the chasm received its name of Đula’s Abyss. If one looks closely at the rocks above the abyss, one can see the profile of a man looking down into the depths. The people of Ogulin say that this is Milan who gazes to where his beloved Đula disappeared.
Based on the principles of knowledge, creativity and the use of new technologies, the centre presents the fairy tales of Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić (born in Ogulin in 1874), Croatia’s foremost writer of fairy tales, as well as the fairy tales of many other writers from both Croatia and the world.
Located within the mediaeval Frankopan Castle, Ivana’s House of Fairy Tales consists of a permanent multimedia exhibition, a library, a multifunctional space for workshops, and a souvenir shop. The activities of Ivana’s House extend to its website, which includes a virtual Fairy-Tale Database and an online library. In addition, the centre carries out publishing activities and organises creative and educational programmes for both children and adults. Organized throughout the year, the programmes include storytelling, literary and visual expression, film, performance and fine arts, plus design.
The exhibition starts with the “Magic Forest”: a gateway into the world of Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, a world where trees narrate episodes from Ivana’s life and stories from her books, a place where clever heads and capable hands can put together a real fairy tale! The “Enchanted Castle Hallways” are the perfect place to “get busy with” exploring fairy tales: what are fairy tales, who writes, collects and narrates them, and what are they about – these are some of the things you can learn in the “Enchanted Hallways”, or catch a glimpse of out of the corner of your eye.
A secret corner of the castle holds the “Magic Mirror”, which reveals the ‘wondrous inner image’ of all who look into it. But only those who listen carefully can get a ‘monstrous’ picture as a keepsake! The “Fireplace” is the “warm” corner of Ivana’s House of Fairy Tales where you can listen to (and later attempt to recreate) fairy tales in the “Fairy-Tale Jukebox”.
In the “Fairy-Tale Library”, visitors can find numerous books of fairy tales and about them. Special attention is given to collecting valuable first editions of fairy tales. Should you need help browsing through the Library, simply ask one of our very own Brownies – the educators of Ivana’s House of Fairy Tales. The “Chamber of Mystery” is located in the centre of the “Enchanted Castle”. This is a multifunctional space where you can watch three educational animated films or play an interactive game. This is also the stage for theatrical productions, concerts and other events.
Text by: TZ Ogulin and Kuća Bajke