Thanks to the abundance of islands, the Dalmatian coast is one of the most interesting sailing areas in the Adriatic Sea. Island Dugi otok, one of the Adriatic precious gems is also situated in this area, just off the coast of Zadar. Many traditions and legends shroud the island but there is one particular location that stands out. It is said that in the ancient times, the fairy folk (that were once believed to walk among us) set out to divide Dugi otok in two. In order to achieve this, they started digging a deep rift in the narrowest part of the island, its middle part. However, they never accomplished this, because the dawn caught up with them before they completed the task. Therefore the fairy folk ended up forever trapped in the depths of earth with the cave as the only testimony of their plot. That cave was later named 'Strašna peć' meaning 'The Fearsome Cavern'.
Shelter and warmth for the Stone Age settlers
If you happen to be sailing through the Archipelago of Zadar make sure to mark this location on your chart. The cave itself is like a secret box filled with wonders for visitors of various interests. If you decide to challenge this location, don't leave your adventurous spirit behind. From the archeological point of view the cave is an indicator of early human life and activities in the area. 'Strašna peć' wasn't always considered as 'fearsome' as its name implies. Certain flint knife, discovered in its depths indicates that it was a place of shelter and warmth for the Stone Age settlers.
Important speleological location
This cave is also considered an important speleological location. It has a grand entrance 10m wide and 7m high. The cave 'Strašna peć' was formed by the stratification of rudist limestone. The inside of the cave is rich with various cave formations like stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and columns. When you enter, the cave floor develops a gradual slope, which becomes more tilted near the end of the cave, until it finally ends in a steep dive to the bottom. In between limestone columns, the forces of nature formed another structure reminiscent of gothic arches used in architecture, which adds to the reverence of the location. In addition to the impressive speleological phenomenon the cave is also a home to many interesting biological species. Cave dwellers are usually very interesting to behold, due to their adjustment to an environment different from the one we usually interact with. The most numerous and well known denizens of caves are bats, and 'Strašna peć' is a home to the largest bat colony in this part of Europe.
One of the first caves open for exploration in Croatia
Another interesting fact about this cave is that it has a significant role in the beginnings of Croatian tourism. The cave 'Strašna peć' was opened for visitors, for the first time in the year 1900. That makes it one of the first caves open for exploration in Croatia as well as first tourist location opened in the county of Zadar. 'The Fearsome Cavern' attracted many visitors, including some very prominent figures like the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph and king Edward VIII of England with his companion Miss Simpson. This natural site was unfortunately closed down when Word War I started and it was left forgotten until the year 2007, when it was once again readjusted for exploration.
In addition to the cave ‘Strašna peć’ the island Dugi otok has many interesting sites to offer. Therefore, if you’re ever in the vicinity cast your anchor in the marina Veli Rat and explore the fascinating harmony of the blue Adriatic Sea, the green of the lush Mediterranean vegetation and the shady alcoves of ‘The Fearsome Cavern’.