RED LAKE - is a hydromorphological phenomenon, a world rarity because of its unique shape, colour, and genesis.
It is located 1.5 km to the north-west of Imotski. It is tectonically young and lies in an earthquake zone. It was formed when underground water pits collapsed and experts often call it a wonder of karst because it is an abyss with slopes resembling a natural well.
It is some 200 metres in diameter and more than 500 metres deep, half of which is the depth of the water. Its bottom has not been entirely explored yet. Josip Roglić, a member of the Academy, carried out the first systematic morphological and hydrological research of Red Lake in 1937, but the data were not particularly accurate, since technology was not particularly advanced at the time.
More accurate data on Red Lake were provided by engineer Milivoj Petrik, who published the results of his research in the 1950s. Petrik found the lowest point of the bottom at 4.1 m above sea level. He also determined the highest (274.5 m) and the lowest (252.8 m) water level.
According to the morphological classification, Red Lake is the deepest pit in the Dinaric karst and water fills half of it. Moreover, it is one of the deepest speleological caves in the world that is constantly under water.
The lake was protected in 1964 (and the whole area north of the town in 1971) as an important landscape. It encompassed Blue Lake and Red Lake as nature monuments, as well as a larger forested area of 3.78 kilometres square covered with black pine.
The first description of Red Lake dates from the beginning of the 18th century. Ivan Zuane Franceschi, a military officer from Venice, wrote a letter to his friend in 1717, after the liberation of Imotski from the Turks:
I think I was even more terrified and impressed when I saw the second abyss (the first was Blue Lake; author’s remark).
It seemed as if an artist’s hand had taken a hammer and a chisel to carve a big circle in bare stone on the almost flat top of the hill and cut it vertically, like a very deep well. The crater is more than half a mile in circumference, very steep (almost vertical), and its bottom has not been discovered yet.
The stone is red with no bush or spring to appease those dreadful cliffs. When you see those chasms, you ask yourself in fear how they were created. Have they always been like that or did some underground volcano, now inactive, start spitting lava and underground rocks, thus creating those wide-open mouths? (La Dalmazia, no. 18, 1846).
The legend says that Gavan’s Estate (a rich man’s castle) tumbled down into the lake when an angel dressed as a beggar warned the lady of the house of fairness and charity and she replied arrogantly: I don’t need for your God, as long as I have my Gavan!, refusing to give him alms. At that moment the ground trembled and Gavan and his estate fell in the abyss.
The abyss then filled with water and legends of evil supernatural beings whose howling can still be heard from the red crater even today. Friar Silvestar Kutleša wrote the legend down in 1937 and friars I. Despot and J.E. Tomić published it later. They also wrote down a folk song which explains the fall of Gavan’s Estate into the abyss - Red Lake.
The song has 25 verses written in the folk metre that contains eight feet (the feature lost in translation). They vividly portray a terrifying story of a punishment brought on by conceit, one of the greatest human flaws.
BLUE LAKE - is located at the end of the town, in a 300 to 500 metre deep crater.
Its maximum length is 800 metres and the width 500 metres, but those dimensions change considerably, depending on the water level - the lake sometimes goes completely dry in summer.
The water level oscillates, often reaching 100 metres. The highest, measured in 1914, reached 147 metres. The oscillations are due to estavels at the bottom of the lake, which act as springs during the rainy season and as drains during the dry season. The water is of a nice blue colour, which gave it its name.
The access road leads almost to the bottom. In summer, the lake is the local population’s favourite swimming pool and children play football at the bottom when it dries out, which is a special attraction.
Unfortunately, the process of backfilling is well under way, especially obvious from the north side. The lake dries up more and more often, and it is with great attention and certain apprehension that the locals wait for the water to come back after the dry season.
Many articles have been written about the lake and many songs have been sung, but to this day the words that would do justice to its beauty have not been found. For those who were growing up by the lake’s shores, Imotski and Blue Lake are parts of the same existential paradigm.
Spending summers by its waters, people have learned how to take responsibility: they protect the nature there or keep a wakeful eye on all children who cannot swim, even though they are not necessarily their own.
Every lake-related experience is a good investment in the future. Children cannot learn anything wrong by its shores and when they grow up the lake brings them back to their childhood, refreshes them and renews them.
Every summer we rediscover that same timeless beauty we left there the previous summer. The colour of the water varies from blue-green to turquoise, depending on the water level and weather conditions. Chance travellers speak so nicely of the lake and those living in Imotski find it so natural that such a beauty befalls them by their very birthright.
Source:The above description and images are used from the book "Imotske modre vode", authors Luka Kolovrat and Maja Delić Peršen.