Meet Ban Dragonja, The Giant of Pazin

Lauren Simmonds

ban dragonja pazin

June the 11th, 2024 – Have you ever heard of the man the size of a mountain? Meet Ban Dragonja from the Istrian town of Pazin.

once upon a time in sleepy pazin…

Now, before we begin – it’s important to emphasise that Ban Dragonja, while being the size of a mountain, wasn’t your classic angry giant who destroyed worlds with the flick of a finger upon being disturbed from his slumber. Quite on the contrary to the giant who sent poor old Jack tumbling back down his beanstalk, Ban Dragonja had a warm heart and a generous, giving spirit.

His relationship with the human population, all of whom were a normal height, was a decent one, and he made it his mission to help them. His spirit might have been softened by the fact that he, unlike the vast majority of other giants, was actually married. His wife, Mirna, was an important figure in the tales about this rather, erm, large resident of Pazin in Istria.

Owing to his good relations with the local population of humans, Ban Dragonja was only to happy to help when he heard their desperate pleas for his help in bettering the conditions for growing crops. He agreed to plough the scorched ground in order to create rivers of running waters and thus ensure a proper irrigation system to allow for agriculture in the area to flourish and feed the people.

The local population were thankful for Ban Dragonja’s work in creating the rivers, as they were now free to plant their crops and make sure they had a good start in life with what was (at the time) an excellent irrigation system. Ban Dragonja named the first of his hand-created rivers Dragonja, and the second was named Mirna, after his wife. We’re sure that was more at her insistence than it was his organic idea!

Despite having had an entire river named after her, Mirna wasn’t happy for long. When it came to the creation of the third river, Ban Dragonja got a little bit too confident and unfortunately, the huge scar the giant’s hands had created in the land to make space for the flow of water ran just a little bit too close to the city’s protective walls. Mirna believed that her husband’s carelessness was unacceptable, and she wasn’t shy in letting him know precisely how she felt. A gentle soul who had nothing but good intentions, Ban Dragonja was crestfallen at his wife’s barbs, and decided in his insecurity that he should abandon the whole idea of creating rivers to help the population grow their crops entirely.

Time passed, rain fell, and the gash in the land the kind giant had created slowly but surely began filling up with water. While more than satisfied with the other two rivers, Dragonja and Mirna, the residents were panic-stricken when they realised that the gaping gorge the giant had created and abandoned upon hearing his wife’s protestations would burst its banks and flood the town. It was only a matter of time before disaster struck and it would be much more than damaged crops to deal with. The population, trapped by the city’s walls – would surely succumb to a watery fate.

Fearing for their valley and their lives, Pazin’s residents begged Ban Dragonja, still feeling depressed by his wife’s lack of confidence in him, to help them once again. Seeing the water levels rising and what devastation was looming for the Istrian town, Ban Dragonja sprung back into action, forgetting his wife’s insults.

He lifted up his enormous leg, attached to which was of course an enormous foot. He stamped his foot into the ground far below him. The ground cracked beneath his feet and a huge chasm appeared. The rain water that had gathered and had grown to dangerous levels spilled down into, out of the gorge and away from the valley and the town.

Pazin’s local population could breathe a sigh of relief when watching gallons of water pour down into the cavern, gushing away from the town and their crops, and allowing the townspeople to avoid death by drowning.

Now, whether or not you’re the type to believe in giants like the well-meaning and heroic Ban Dragonja or not, if you pay a visit to the gorgeous little Istrian town of Pazin today, you can still go and visit the cavern (known as the Pazin cave) created by the good giant which continues to lead heavy bodies of water away from the valley to this very day.


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