Red Lake (Croatia)

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Red Lake
Location of Red Lake in Croatia.
Location of Red Lake in Croatia.
Red Lake
Coordinates43°27′11″N 17°11′48″E / 43.45306°N 17.19667°E / 43.45306; 17.19667Coordinates: 43°27′11″N 17°11′48″E / 43.45306°N 17.19667°E / 43.45306; 17.19667
Typeformer cave
Native nameCrveno Jezero  (Hausa)
Basin countriesCroatia
Surface area2.7 hectares (6.7 acres)[1]
Average depth245 m (804 ft)
Max. depth245 metres (804 ft)
Surface elevation522 m (1,713 ft)

Red Lake (Croatian: Crveno jezero) is a sinkhole containing a karst lake near the city of Imotski, Croatia. It is known for its numerous caves and remarkably high cliffs, reaching over 241 metres above normal water level and continuing below the water level. The total explored depth of this sinkhole is approximately 530 metres with a volume of roughly 25–30 million cubic meters,[2] thus it is the third largest sinkhole in the world.[2] Water drains out of the basin through underground waterways that descend below the level of the lake floor. The deepest known point of the lake is 4 meters below sea level.[1]

The sinkhole is named after the reddish-brown color of the surrounding cliffs,[3] colored by iron oxides.

Like the nearby Blue Lake, it is presumed that the lake emerged when the ceiling of a large cave hall collapsed.[3]

The lake is inhabited with endemic and endangered spotted minnow (Delminichthys adspersus).[4] In the dry period of the year, this fish can be occasionally seen in surrounding springs, rivers and lakes, suggesting that there is an underground connection between Red Lake and other water bodies.[2]

At the 13th International Congress of Speleology in 2001, new findings were revealed. An inflow cave-shaped canal that measured approximately 30 x 30 meters was discovered in the eastern part of the lake at a depth of 175 meters.[5]


According to the legend, written down by Fra Silvestar Kutleša,[6] Imotski was a home of a greedy rich man Gavan and his wife (Croatian: Gavanovica) who had an infant son. They had two castles, the western one and the eastern one.

One day, while Gavan was counting money in the western castle, Jesus, disguised as a beggar, came down to Earth to test Gavan and Gavanovica. He asked her, in the name of God, for some bread and cabbage. She rebelled to the God's name but reluctantly agreed to feed the beggar. She told her servant to put the bread on her shoe, because she found it humiliating to give the bread to a beggar with her hands, and to cut some cabbage leaves that dogs urinated on but the servant didn't do so because he was religious and feared God. Jesus in disguise told the servant: "Tonight something shall happen, do not be afraid! Lightnings shall strike, earth shall quake, and lakes shall appear. None of that shall harm you." Jesus went on to test Gavan's 77 shepherds and 77 serfs. Only two of them all had merciful hearts.

He asked one of them in the name of God for some roasted lamb. The serf said he had only three lambs and nothing to feed his children with, but agreed to give some roasted lamb to the beggar. When he said he would go and get the lamb, Jesus stopped him saying: "Do not go! If your heart is like your tongue, the lamb shall come by itself!" And so it was, the lamb came out of the pen by itself and was slaughtered by the serf's wife. Before eating, Jesus told them not to throw away a single bone, and after eating he told them to put all the bones on one pile. The lamb then came back to life and went back to the pen.

He asked another one for a handful of wool in the name of God, and the serf said he and his wife had nothing to wear but still agreed to give the beggar not only a handful of wool but a whole fleece. Jesus took the fleece, crossed it and disappeared leaving behind himself an entire stack of wool.

That night Gavan stayed overnight in the western castle because he had so much money there that he couldn't count it in one day. Outside of the castle, dark clouds covered up the sky and coming down to the earth. It thundered and lightened above Zavelim and Biokovo. Thunders were shaking the walls of the western castle, God was giving Gavan the last chance to repent. Gavan didn't lift his eyes from the money — he believed in money, not God. Three earthquakes followed and earth opened up swallowing the west castle. In the place of the castle Red Lake appeared; it was round because the castle walls were round.

In the east castle, Gavanovica was frightened by the wind, thunder, lightning and quaking. She was screaming her servants' names but no one responded as they valued their lives more than hers and went to save themselves. While she was screaming and crying, God told that good servant: "Take that bag that is hanging off the beam, inside of it you shall find all your payment. And run away now, all of this shall go into an abyss! Into downfall! This is a cursed house and a cursed place!"

The servant took Gavan and Gavanovica's infant son because he was fond of him, and ran to save himself. The east castle was swallowed by earth and that's where Blue Lake was created. While he was running, the ground underneath his feet was collapsing. That's why Blue Lake is oval, not round like the Red one. When the servant arrived at Proložac, he heard a voice from the clouds telling him to throw the child. The servant obeyed God's words and threw him. Earth opened up once again and swallowed the child. Water rose from the place that the child was throwed at — today it is called the Utopišće Spring. The servant couldn't continue running because he was heartbroken by the act he committed but drew strength when God encouraged him: "Run further, don't mourn the child! The evil bloodline shall not have offspring!!!"

The houses of all serfs and shepherds, except for the houses of those merciful serfs, had been swallowed by earth too, but were not sunken because God found them lesser guilty. All places where Gavan had haystacks, stables and pens were sunken, resulting in two lakes in Proložac, two ponds in Donji Vinjani and three lakes in Prološko Blato. Only the chickens had survived. The henhouse has in the meantime turned into rock and got covered by moss, blackberry and ivy.


  1. ^ a b Ozimec, Jalžić & Jelić 2017, p. 36.
  2. ^ a b c "Crveno Jezero - Red Lake". Wondermondo.
  3. ^ a b "Natural beauties". Split and Dalmatia county Tourist Board.
  4. ^ Ozimec, Jalžić & Jelić 2017, p. 38.
  5. ^ Garasic, Mladen (2001). "New Speleohydrogeological Research of Crveno jezero (Red Lake) near Imotski in Dinaric Karst Area (Croatia, Europe) - International speleodiving expedition "Crveno jezero 98"" (PDF). Croatian Speleological Association.
  6. ^ "Pročitajte legendu o nastanku imotskih jezera". February 11, 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2019.


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