This is the largest freshwater lake in Croatia as well as in the surrounding region; it has a turbulent and laborious history. At one time a many times larger marsh, with heroic self-denial and persistence of the noble Borelli, it was transformed into a picturesque lake.
With innumerable old effluents, today the large Pakostane field is a farming area which has fed this region throughout the years. Some legends say that in the depth of the lake sleeps a fearsome dragon, but what is not a legend is the Ornithological reserve, a natural habitat for aquatic birds.^
On sunny winter days up to 100,000 birds float and bob on the water, enjoying the mild climate and abundance of food. The multitude of fish and fishing for the big catch are a daily happening on Lake Vrana. Catches of 200 kg ‘monsters’, most often catfish, are not at all uncommon.
KAMENJAK LOOKOUT POINT
In 2006, at the top of the Kamenjak hill, above the middle of Lake Vrana, a lookout point of the same name was erected (Project CARDS 2002).
The two connected buildings were built and decorated in the traditional style, and next to them are large information boards which tell the story of this region over two thousand years, a large plateau with benches for rest and enjoyment, a panoramic telescope and most importantly, a view of the entire lake, of the beginning of the Kornati archipelago, of the Island of Murter, and of Pirovac, Drage, Pakostane…
At the southern most part of Lake Vranais, there is a small dock for mooring boats, with bathroom facilities and a fisherman’s cottage from the 19th century which has been renovated in the traditional style, all right next to a canal which connects the freshwater lake with the salty sea water like an umbilical cord.
A short stroll to the north will lead you to a birdwatching tower from which, in good weather, you have a view of the entire lake. If you head south, with a short stroll along which you will find information boards, you will arrive in a locality called Jugovir.
In times of strong southerly winds, when the level of the sea rises, here the sea breaks through and heads towards the lake. This very place is the location of Borelli’s fisherman’s cottage from the 1 8th century which in the past served as an overnight shelter or storage location for fishermen or as a control point for guards monitoring the fishing of eels, which in this place migrate in the greatest numbers towards the sea and back.
It has always been said that a good lookout point should offer a view “… like one from an airplane”. The Celinka hill above Drage is precisely such a place, offering a magnificent view of all four sides of the world.
Drage is on one side. West of the locality glitters the blue sea with a handful of small islands which seem to be just out of reach. Somewhat to the north is the Pakostane Riviera, while to the east lays Lake Vrana. This locality will truly take your breathe away, like it did back in ancient times to the first inhabitants of this region, who built their first settlement on this very locality.
During the summer heat when even the thick shade of the pine trees does not offer enough respite, come to this place. Without fear of being laughed at, be sure to bring along a tracksuit, you’re going to need it.
In summer the waters which were abundant in the autumn dry up. Long ago, when the inhabitants of the Roman Empire walked these plains, drinking water flowed from here through aqueducts all the way to Zadar.
The Benkovac region is criss-crossed with forts; evidence of the centuries of battles against conquerors. The first fort, built for the purpose of defence against two impending forces, the Venetians from the west and the Turks from the east, is Klicevica, which was erected by the Kurjakovics in 1454.
Regardless of how devastated it is today, the foundation layout is well preserved, with high surrounding walls and a tower. Overgrown with nettles, Klicevac reminds us that Cesar’s troops on their path of conquest made nettle famous, as a remedy for arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, but also as healthy food.