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Croatian folklore knows many bizarre creatures and characters. The legend of king Norin, however, features a leading character so bizarre, that even Croats find him odd to their own standards. He reigned over residents of Narona, originally a Roman town situated on the banks of Neretva River, where today you can find a small Croatian village of Vid.

Several versions of Norin’s physical appearance exist. Some suggest he had a large head of a swine, while others claim he had ears of a donkey. However, the most freighting and surreal description notes his long beard, consisting of live eels. He was also a powerful magician, capable of taking different animal forms and using this might to perform his evil schemes.

Neretva celebration

King Norin was usually blamed for all the misfortunes in the valley of Neretva. When a vessel transporting the bells for Church of St. Stephen in Opuzen sunk, people believed Naronian royalty had something to do with it. The residents have even paid sototajer, a predecessor of modern scuba-diver, to locate the bells and attach ropes on their hooks. Yet when he approached the site of the wreckage, he was attacked by a large black eel. According to storytellers, Norin performed this bad deed because of his alliance with the devil. The bells remained on the bottom of Neretva River, weakening the faith of the locals.

Another similar Croatian legend tells that a large anchor was lost in Neretva, and a new sototajer was hired to find it. Shortly after he reached the bottom of the river, he noticed a huge underwater fort, with Norin smoking a pipe on its tower. Instead of smoke, the pipe would release schools of plotica fish, counted among the finest delicacies of Neretva region. With an eerie voice, Norin said to the diver that he will let him go this time, but if he ever returns to the fort, he will perish.

These are just some examples of Norin’s scary activities. Some say that he became a giant, and if you look at the mountains from the left bank of Neretva, you might see his head among them, hidden in the shades and groves of this wonderful part of Croatia.

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