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Notes from the past


Would you like to know how Ponikve experienced a man who completed 679 scientific trips all over Croatia from 1878-1912, a man who visited almost every forest in Croatia and several plants and animal species were named after him?

Dragutin Hirc (Hirtz) (Zagreb, 6 April,1985 - Zagreb, 1May,1921) was a versatile Croatian naturalist, botanist and zoologist, a teacher, a mountaineer and a travel writer who through his natural science researches left an important mark in Croatia. With his book ″Croatian Coast″ left a deep footprint in this area.

He worked in many Croatian cities as a teacher and in 1877 he came to Bakar. He frequently visited the nearby Ponikve or, as he usually called it, the area round Kukuljanovo Lake exploring their particularities. It is interesting to note that at the time he served in Bakar, he sent more than 10,000 pieces of dried herbs to his correspondents-botanists. He picked them up himself and in this way he introduced his correspondents with flora from Bakar area, including Ponikve.

This is what he wrote about Ponikve!


"It's nice to look at the lake in spring or autumn from some peaks of nearby hills! All around stone peaks, green forests, nice meadows, and deep beneath you –green water where the clouds float as in a mirror and the moon with the stars swim at night. It is pleasantly human. All this is exemplified with the sound of water from deep down, sometimes with strong and sometimes with silent rumour reveals itself, than again is quiet as if it is not flowing. "

"And in the late autumn is nice to come here, too, when instead of watery-vaguely lake covers Ponikve. It is said that a sinkhole is every morning all the year round covered in fog. "

"The whole sinkhole is now turned into a beautiful lake, so beautiful that no such lake can be seen anywhere in our country. The water rises 6-8m, once it flooded the village itself. It happened on St.Andrew's day, 65 years ago. It was rising so fast until Christmas that inhabitants had to come out of their houses to tie barrels with ropes. "

"But where the water flowing into the lake of Kukuljanovo comes from? It comes out partially near the sea in Bakar, under the houses situated at the foot of the hill where the town was built. It goes out through cavities and fills up the "Jaz" (water collection point). It is so strong that it turns five mill wheels in Bakar. In September 1878 when it started raining and continued to rain until May, the water was exceptionally high, and Mali Lug was already flooded in June. In Jaz the water was so high that it started overflowing although regularly comes out through two channels.“

"Such are hydrographic relations in Primorje, where there is sometimes no water all the year round, not even to fill a tear in the eye. One can't describe the pain when a seaside man watches the necessary water uselessly perish into the soil as well as a pleasure when Kukuljanovo would have one-hundredth part of the water which disappears underground into the lake.“

"One can't describe the emotion which overcomes a man when leaving dead karst, comes to the edge of Kukuljanovo Lake and looks closely at Veli lug. There are rows of fields where corn, wheat and barley are sown as well as potato, cabbage and trkljaš bean. On the foothill and on slopes of some peaks there are some vineyards and forests. The whole sinkhole was once covered with forest. Noweday, as a memory from that time just a few trees has been saved in the name of Veli and Mali lug (″lug″ means ″forest″).″

″I used to have a rest here when visiting these interesting places. That's why I'm fond of this forest for there are many rare plants growing here. If you come in April you'll get to know ″ponikvarica″/Poet's daffodil/ (Narcissus radiiflorus), as well as hairy violet(Viola hirta), grape hyacinth (Muscari) and many other rare plants″.

″Hunting in these areas has been known since ancient times. The inhabitants remember honorable hunter Petar Ban Zrinski. While hunting, he arrived to Ponikve. When the time came for a rest, hungry and tired he asked Vidaljka, an old woman from Ponikve if she had anything to eat. The old woman went to a small hut and brought the prince a great cheese pie. The Prince Petar started eating sweet cottage bread offering one to one of his servants, while the other servant did not want to taste the bread at all. Seeing that, Prince Peter got angry and said, "Here is your wage, I don't need you any more; do you think you are better than your master to whom cottage bread is fine? "

″Once you get out of this humid depth you see the Mount Učka, north-west the whole mountain range of stone peaks and in spring there is also a white cap on top of the mountain Risnjak. Straight in front of you is a lush, green Cernik, further there Čavle and Grobnik. Once you get out of the depth, nowhere on the Coast can be seen litoral peaks so picturesque as from this place."