Have you ever visited a village so quaint that it almost seems like the setting of a fairy tale? That’s what we thought when we visited Rastoke.
Rastoke is the historic centre of the municipality of Slunj, and is found in the same region as Plitvice Lakes. It is often described as the “watermill” village because several waterfalls pass under and alongside many structures.
As early as the 17th century people began using water power to grind wheat and other grains into flour in the area. The girls were fascinated with the process that saw a water wheel rotate a grindstone.
We were able to open a valve that let water run onto horizontal paddle wheels. Once the paddles were spinning fast enough, the grindstone started to move.
The girls would have played with the water wheel all day except it cost five Kuna (about a loonie) every five minutes to keep the valve open.
One of the prettiest waterfalls in the village is known as Fairy’s Hair. Claire was the first to spot the rocky outcrop, which looks exactly like a fairy’s head with hair streaming all around.
Legend has it that fairies once lived in the waterfall who would pleat horses’ manes while people were sleeping. Personally I think the pleating was more likely done by a bored 12 year old, because I happen to know one who likes to braid!
One of the more curious things about the village is that it was used as the setting for a German spaghetti Western in the 1960s. We had a good laugh looking at photos of Croatian actors trying to pass as First Nations tribes from the Prairies.
The story also saw fit to throw in a totem pole (not exactly from the right cultural group) with carvings that looked more like Egyptian hieroglyphics than animals. I don’t suppose they had a cultural advisor back in the day!
After looking at artefacts from the village’s heyday, we wandered down to the river through a crack in the limestone rock. It was amazing to see the power of nature and how the landscape is forever changing from the impact of water.
Rastoke is definitely one of those places where you can admire nature’s beauty, but know that we can never completely control what nature decides to do.