Maribor Island


The Maribor Island is a unique type of river island which has been preserved as a natural sight since 1951 and as a natural monument since 1992. 

The island formed on the basis of marine marl with secondary deposits of river sediments just behind the onetime Drava river rapids where now stands the Maribor Island Hydroelectric Power Plant. 

At this point, the riverbed is narrowed for the one last time before the river transitions from an Alpine river into a calm lowland river of the Dravsko polje field. 

The island's attractions are its fauna and flora, namely the island is home to 15 tree and 20 shrub species as well as a shelter for numerous rare and endangered animal species. 

Today, the Maribor Island offers open-air swimming baths which were solemnly inaugurated on 15 June 1930.

 
 

THE SNAKE QUEEN

In the castle of Limbuš lived an unusually beautiful princess. Her skin was as white as marble; no artist could ever chisel a statue of greater magnificence than hers. But her heart resembled a stone as well; it has never shown mercy nor love.

Once the princess bathed in the Drava river with a group of ladies of the court. It was nigh noon and the sun was scorching. Therefore, the princess lay down in the shade on the bank right across the Felber’s Island that is located in the middle of the Drava river.

At that time a snake queen lived on the island and the snakes, her maids, wound around her. She only appeared from behind the stone arches of her castle during midday when the sun was burning the hottest. She loved that time of the day when the sun seemingly stands still for a while. During this time everything is scorching hot and quivering. Flowers bow their heads, not a leaf rustles in the breeze and all the living creatures become drowsy – the universal nature stops breathing, and its heart stops beating. It is in these moments of midday drowsiness when the snake queen visited the gravel mounds of the Drava river. Donning off her pearly crown she took a bath among the waves. She then surrendered to drowsy sleep and dreamt with eyes wide open. 

For it was this magnificent midday hour when the princess awoke from her slumber in the shades of the riverbank. There, on the island in the middle of the river, she saw a magical shine. It was the snake queen's crown shining brighter than the sun. Immense yearning overtook the princess. She wanted the crown no matter the cost.

She made a proclamation in the whole of Podravje region and wider still to take that man who would bring her the snake queen's crown. Knights and heroes thronged from from every corner of the land. But every man who swam to the island immediately lost courage when faced with the hissing of a myriad snake tongues coming from every bush.

Even the knight Brdavs, as big as a mountain and clad in iron head to toe, answered her call.

“I split the head of many a dragon, I certainly will not tremble before a little slithery snake!” So he boasted and paddled across the Driver river. As soon as he stepped before the snake queen and gazed upon her glaring and wide open eyes, the shivers his iron raiment. He didn't even spare a thought for the crown and bolted, running away, never to show his face in Podravje again. 

Not a soul was left who would date approach the Felbar's island. At last, another suitor turned up – it was the neighbouring knight from Falska peč. Ever since he was a child he was fond of the princess. Not so long ago he knocked on the gates of Limbuš castle and asked for her hand in marriage. But the princess mocked him refusing his proposal disdainfully. But once he heard the proclamation of the arrogant princess regarding the snake queen's crown, he was once again filled with hope. 

“You shall be mine after all, you heartless beauty!” the knight of Fale rejoiced. “I shall bring you the crown and you shall be mine, my beatiful bride!”

He clasped the sword between his teeth and swam over the Drava river.  It was midday and the snake queen already basked in the sun. As usual she was napping with eyes wide open, her crown laying beside her on the white-hot gravel quivering in the heat.

Hissing was heard from every bush, there was fizzing behind him, but the knight continued straight ahead. Soon he was standing right before the snake queen. Her eyes were wide open, and they were shining with sorrow and burning with love. The mere sight moved him to the core, he sighed and he felt giddy. Yet through the dizzy blur he could see the beautiful smiling face of the princess across the waters. He closed his eyes just for moment, lifted his sword and off came the snake queen's head. A red gush of blood sizzled on the white-hot gravel.

The knight snatched the crown and off he went up hill and down dale. There was rattling left and right, whistling and hissing right behind – nothing but snakes all around him. He held up the crown, gems shining like glistening cheeks... Snakes gathering before his feet, already twining around his knuckles.  But the knight just didn’t care.

Splash! Into the river he plopped, cutting through the waves with his left, holding the crown above his head with his right hand. The writhing dark mass of snakes behind him, weaving all around the knight. Two coils of snakes took hold of his legs, a squirming belt around his waist, a wreath of snakes around his neck, and already they are wrapping around his raised right hand.  He tries to shake them off. But, alas, all in vain. Into the depths of water sank the writhing ball. The waves embrace the knight and together with him bury the crown at the bottom of the Drava river. 

In the Limbuš castle the princess was leaning against the embrasure, crying with one eye, yet smiling with the other. She cried for the crown swallowed by the waves, she laughed at the foolish men that were willing to die for nothing.

The castle became hell on earth. Although heartless before, she became even more vicious and evil henceforth. Her flattering bridesmaids disappeared, her family left the forsaken castle. The walls tumbled down and the ruins became home to the black mass of snakes. 

And the princess? A statue of stone, the pulpit to owls, has stood for many years amidst the castle ruins. However, at long last, this last witness of the petrified princess also collapsed into rubble where squirm the orphaned snakes searching for the crown of their dead queen. 

Josip Brinar: Pohorske bajke in povesti (Tales and Stories from Pohorje) (1933, 41–44)



MARIBORSKI OTOK

 

Mariborski otok je edinstven tip rečnega otoka, ki je kot naravna znamenitost bil zavarovan že leta 1951, leta 1992 pa še kot naravni spomenik. 

Otok je nastal na temelju marinskih laporjev s sekundarnim nanosom rečnih sedimentov za nekdanjimi brzicami Drave, ki jih je nadomestila hidroelektrarna Mariborski otok. 

Na tem mestu se Drava tudi zadnjič zoži, preden preide iz alpske reke v umirjeno ravninsko reko na Dravskem polju. 

Otok pa je zanimiv tudi zaradi svoje favne in flore, na njem najdemo 15 drevesnih in 20 grmovnih vrst ter je prostor številnih redkih in ogroženih živalskih vrst. Danes pa je na otoku kopališče Mariborski otok, ki so ga slavnostno otvorili 15. 6. 1930.

 
 

KAČJA KRALJICA


Na limbuškem gradu je živela čudno lepa knežna. Kakor iz belega marmorja je bilo njeno telo; noben umetnik ne bi bil mogel ustvariti čudovitejšega kipa. A tudi njeno srce je bilo kakor iz kamena; ne usmiljenja ne ljubezni ni poznalo.
Zgodilo se je nekoč, da se je knežna s tropo dvorjank kopala v Dravi. Šlo je na poldne in sonce je žgalo na vso moč. Zato se je zleknila v senco na bregu, vprav nasproti Velbarjevemu otoki, ki leži tamkaj sredi Drave.
Na tem otoku je bivala v tistih časih kačja kraljica n okoli nje je mrgolelo polno kač, njenih služabnic. Kačja kraljica se je prikazovala iz kamnitih velibov svojega gradu le opoldne, kadar je sonce najhuje pripekalo. Ugajala ji je tista ura, ko se zdi, da sonce za nekaj časa obstoji na nebu. Ob tej uri vse žehti in trepeče. Cvetje kloni glave, sapica se ne zgane v listju, živa bitja obide dremotec, - vesoljni naravi zastane dihanje, srce ji neha utripati. V teh trenutkih pol danske odrevenelosti je prihajala kačja kraljica na prodovje Drave. Obloživši biserno krono, se je okopala v valovanju. Nato pa se je vdala dremežu in zaspala z odprtimi očmi. 
Bila je prav ta čudovita opoldanska ura, ko se je knežna v senci na bregu zdramila z spanja. Zagledala je čaroben sijaj na otoku sredi reke. Svetleje od sonca na naebu je žarela krona kačje kraljice. Silno koprnenje je prevzelo knežno. Hotela je imeti krono, naj stane karkoli.
Po vsem Podravju in še dalje naokoli je dala razglasiti, da vzae tistega za moža, ki ji prinese krono kačje kraljice. Od vseh strani so prihajali vitezi in junaki. A vsakemu je upadlo srce, ko je priplaval do otoka, pa so mu iz slehernega grma sikali kačji jeziki nasproti.
Prišel je tudi vitez Brdavs, velik ko goraf in ves v železju od nog do glave.
» že nekateremu pozoju sem razčesnil betico, pa bi se gladke kačice plašol!« Tako se je hrustil in kar pokonci hode prečofotal Dravo. Ko pa je stopil pred kačjo kraljico in ugledal njene srepe na široko doprte oči – tedaj ga je stresla groznica v njegovem železju. Na krono ni niti pomislil, pa je zbežal in bežal ter se ni nikoli več prikazal v Podravju. 
Nikogar ni bilo več, ki bi se bil drznil n Velbarjev otok. Pa se je nazadnje oglasil še eden – vitez sosed s Falske peči. Že od mladih let sem je rad gledal za knežno. Pred nedavnim časom je tudi že bil potrkal na limbuškem gradu ter poprosil za njeno roko. A knežna se mu je v obraz rogala ter ga sramotno zavrnila. Ko je zdaj zvedel, kaj je prevzetnica razglasila o kačji kroni, ga je navdalo upanje znova. 
»Pa boš le moja, brezsrčna lepa!« se je razveseli Falski vitez. »Prinesem ti krono in moja boš, nevesta zala!«
Ostri meč je stisnil med zobe in preplaval Dravo. Poldanska ura je bila in kačja kraljica se je grela na soncu. Kot ponavadi je zadremala z odprtimi očmi, položivši krono na razbeljeni, žehteči prod poleg sebe.
Iz vsakega grma je skljalo; za petami piskotljalo, a vitez kar naravnoč naprej in naprej! Že stoji pred kačjo kraljico. Na stežaj so ji odprte oči, iz njih žalost sije, ljubeze gori. Pogled ga presune do srca, vitez zavzdihne, pred očmi se mu zmegli. A skozi omotični meglo, glej, čez vodovje sem se mu smehlja obraz lepe knežne. Za hip zameži, dvigne meč, zamahne – in kačji kraljici odleti glava. Rdeč curek krvi zašumi po razbeljenem prosu.
Vitez zgrabi krono, pa v tek in dir! Od leve, od desne zarožlja, odzad žvižglja, piskota – vse živo kačje zalege! Visoko dvigne z desnico krono, kakor ličce se svetijo dragulji… Kače mu kar mrgole pred nogami, že se mu omotavajo okoli členkov. Ali kaj to vitezu mar!
Pljusk! V Dravo in že reže z močno levico valove, z desnico drži krono nad glavo. Tema kač se vrže za njim, opleta viteza vse križem. Dva svitka na nogah, živ kolač okoli pasu; okoli vratu kačji venec, že mu opletajo dvignjeno desnico. Vitez se otepava. Vse zaman! V globočino vode se potopi živa klobka. Valovi se zgrnejo na vitezom, z njim vred pokopljejo krono na dno Drave. 
Na lini v limbuškem gradu pa knežna sloni, iz enega očesa ji solze kapljajo, na drugo se smeji. Solzi se za svetlo krono, ki so jo pogoltnili valovi; smeji se butcem moškim, ki rinejo za prazen nič v smrt.
Kakor v peklu je bilo zdaj na gradu. Brezsrčna je bila knežna že prej, še bolj strupena, zlobna odslej. Porazgubile so se družice prilizovalke, družina je zapustila zakleti grad. Zidovje je razpadlo, vse črno kač se je preselilo v razvaline. 
In knežna? Kamnita soha, prižnica skovirjem in sovam, je še dolga leta štrlela sredi iznad grajskih razvalin. A naposled se je tudi ta zadnja priča okamenele knežne zrušila v grobljo, ki gomaze po njej ovdovele kače, stikajoč za krono svoje mrtve kraljice. 

Josip Brinar: Pohorske bajke in povesti (1933, 41 – 44)
 


Tekst zbrala in uredila: Eva Mataln 

Prevod: Maja Miklavc & Miha Odar

Fotografije: Igor Unuk

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