Jure Grando – the first vampire

13 July 2022.

Written by Matija Čaić

Vampires are the most popular undead creatures. The first of them to be mentioned in any written form is Jure Grando Alilović from the village Kringa on the Istrian peninsula in Croatia. This is his story and legend.

The man behind the legend

Jure Grando, or Giure Grando in Italian, was a real man and stonemason from Kringa in central Istria. His real last name was Alilović, but it is possible that due to his impressive stature he was nicknamed Grando (Italian grande – big). It is known that he was married to Ivana with whom he had two children Ana and Nikola. He was born in 1579, and died in 1656, when the legend of him as a vampire begins.

Jure Grando as a vampire

Jure became a vampire because he was not buried properly. His tongue was not pierced with a nail. Due to that fact, the local Pauline father Giorgio suspected that he was responsible for the unusual and frightening events that took place in Kringa.

Shortly after Jure’s death, a strange creature began to visit houses in the village at night. If it knocked on someone’s door, the next day someone from that house would die. Jure’s widow suffered special terror. She would be visited and raped by a vampire because he thought she still had to perform marital duties. Ivana described him as a grinning creature that makes sounds as if gasping for air.

Such terror continued for a full 16 years until a few brave villagers decided to put an end to it.

The second death of Jure Grando

One night Father Giorgio met face to face with a vampire. Raising the cross in front of his face, he exclaimed, “Look at Jesus Christ, vampire! Stop tormenting us! ”The vampire began to cry and run to the cemetery.

Seeing that there was an opportunity, Giorgio gathered the locals led by the prefect Miho Radetić and set off in pursuit. Reaching the grave where Jure lay, they tried to pierce his heart with a hawthorn stake, but the stake bounced off his hard skin.

A few nights later, they returned and dug up the coffin. Jure in the coffin looked as if he was still alive. His cheeks were red, and had smile on his face like he is sleeping peacefully. Several villagers got scared and tried to run away, but Giorgio and the prefect gathered them and brought them back to the grave.

The priest raised the crucifix and exclaimed: “Look, štrigun, (Istrian name for vampire), this is Jesus Christ who saved us from hell and died for us. And you, you štrigun, will have no peace.“ Then they tried to pierce his heart, but the stake bounced again. Then Giorgio performed an exorcism, and Stipan Milašić struck and cut off the vampire’s head with an ax.

When the ax cut his skin, Jure screamed terribly, and so much blood flowed from the wound that it filled the entire grave.

After that, Kringa was at peace.

Historical record

This story was written by the Slovenian historian Johann Weikhard von Valvasor in his work “The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola” and is considered the first mention of vampires in the world. Interestingly, nowhere is it stated that Jure Grando drank the blood of his victims, and yet this is the most famous trait of every vampire.

Another theory

According to a less fantastic theory, Jure was not married to Ivana but only in love with her. At that time, the right of the first wedding night was exercised and it belonged to the local nobles, in this case, the Paulines.

Not wanting to share his sweetheart with others, Jure opposed them. The priests then hired a prefect to kill him. He hit Jura on the head with a pickaxe and buried him. However, Jure was just unconscious from the blow so he started calling for help from the grave.

In order not to reveal the real truth, the locals dug him up and beheaded him.

Since suicides and victims of manslaughter are not allowed to be buried in the cemetery, it is assumed that the grave of Jure Grando is under the stone path that leads from the church to the cemetery.

Kringa today

This Istrian town is trying to use the story of Jure Grando for tourist purposes. A plaque with the names of nine brave locals who helped stop the terror was placed on the school. A museum dedicated to the first known vampire was opened, as well as the cafe “Vampire” that is decorated in the appropriate style.

Which of all this is true we will probably never know. The fact is that Jure Grando was a real person and the first to be mentioned to have risen from the grave. For everything else, go on a sightseeing tour of Kringa, explore and share your impressions.

Watch a short movie about Jure Grando

Background picture:

Liberation squad


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