An ancient tradition refreshed, rediscover the old way of travelling to a holy place – on foot to the Shrine of Our Lady of Krasno!
Shrine Nested in the Mountain
Whether you take a pilgrimage as a journey to a sacred place for the purpose of venerating or you want to have a recreational journey to a holy place, it will be a life-changing experience.
The beginning of a religious tradition and pilgrimage to Krasno goes a long way back in history!
The Shrine of Our Lady of Krasno was once one of the most important Marian shrines in Croatia situated at the foothills of the majestic Velebit Mountain. The faithful pilgrims were coming to Krasno on different routes, one of which was from the direction of Plitvice Lakes and Mount Pljesivica. The tradition has not ceased since that time though its popularity waned in recent centuries.
The initiative of the GreenWay Tour 2Parks is to bring this old and almost forgotten tradition back to life. Revitalization of the pilgrimage route is in the initial stage, but that should not stop you to make your journey to the Shrine.
The pilgrimage was and still is traditionally held on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15. In the past, thousands of pilgrims made their way to the Shrine on foot and votive pilgrimage were very often done barefoot. The people would go on pilgrimages to attain better health for themselves or for their loved ones, for peace or a fruitful harvest.
Today, in addition to those undertaking a religious pilgrimage we would like to invite hikers who consider this kind of experience a spiritual adventure away from the bustle of modern life.
Some Historical Curiosities
Written documentation of early pilgrimages to Krasno is rather rare, mainly because the word of mouth was the most common way of transmitting information in the past. However, existing data suggest that a known and famous pilgrimage site already existed at the time the oldest written records were written.
The first solid written record dates back to 1844 and is found in the letter written by the parish priest Kriskovic from Krasno, to Bishop Ozegovic thanking him for a golden chain sent by the faithful believers from Karlobag to St. Mary of Krasno.
A much older written record from the town of Senj indicates that pilgrimage existed much earlier, namely, in the Bishop's Office correspondence dating from 1795 is noted: »Indulgentia pro Krasno«, most likely related to absolution (forgiveness) from God given through the church of St. Mary of Krasno.
Furthermore, if we take into consideration the data faund in the shrine church - an engraved year 1641, we can assume that pilgrimages to Krasno existed much earlier than 1844.
Source: Mile Bogović: Krasnarska župa i svetište Gospe od Krasna, Senj zb 18 (1991), 197-203
The beginning of pilgrimage is linked to the legend of St. Mary of Krasno, a story about a group of shepherds who found an outline of St. Mary in a mountain flower on the site of the present church. They took the flower to the chapel in their village in Krasnarsko polje (Krasno valley). But the miraculous flower reappeared several times on the site in the forest. This miraculous event inspired faithful villagers to build a chapel in the forest and to continue to go on pilgrimage on the site of the apparition.
The story of the miraculous event soon spread in all directions and the ever-growing mass of people started the pilgrimage to Krasno. As an expression of worship, the pilgrimage was made on foot, often barefoot, and it lasted for several days.
With time, walking was replaced by driving, but that is a completely different, simply incomparable pilgrimage experience because:
From the moment you make your first step in silence you begin the process of letting go and slowing down!
Encourage yourself to take the first step, because one thing is for certain - this kind of experience is life changing. We share here a few tips and some useful and interesting information that will help you to start your spiritual journey!
The Shrine and the church of Our Lady of Krasno are located on a beautiful clearing close to the picturesque village Krasno in Lika-Senj County in the Republic of Croatia, at approximately 700 m above sea level in the heart of the Northern Velebit National Park. Without any doubt, this is one of the most beautifully located Marian shrines.
What is the Route Like?
At the present time, the pilgrimage is possible along the state road from Korenica towards Otocac, and further along the county road towards Krasno village. There is generally a dense network of public footpaths in this area, but they are now little used and overgrown due to sustained rural depopulation and the lack of agricultural activities and livestock farming. GWT2P initiative is to look to revitalize old routes avoiding main roads as much as possible.
When Shoul I Go?
We recommend a period from May to October, but given today’s strange weather patterns both March and April can be very good for walking. Be sure to always check the forecast and contact the hosts before you embark on your walking journey. Peak time for pilgrimage to Krasno is August.
Where to Start?
In old times pilgrims started from home. Today, those who are nearby 2Parks simply have to follow the state road from Korenica to the town of Otočac, which initially passes through the Plitvice Lakes National Park, and from Otočac to nearby Krasno village by the county road.
What is the offer like along the route?
Along the route you can find family-run cafes, bistros, and accommodation – though not many – but in recent years the offer has become richer. If we take into account that this is a very passive area with many burdens, and that we, hopefully, have difficult pandemic years behind us, this positive shift in the offer means very, very much - thanks to you also, dear pilgrims and walkers!
- Bring extra clothing and layers, including waterproof gear. Please remember that the Shrine is in the mountainous region, it could be up to 7 or 8 degrees cooler on Velebit, coupled with the wind (if present) could make it quite cool, especially out of season.
- Have appropriate footwear, ideally hiking boots with proper ankle support.
- If you choose to walk barefoot we recommend Stations of the Cross that start at the bottom of the hill where the Shrine is located.
- Everyone should have adequate food and water supply to be self-sufficient.
- Chocolate, bananas, nuts and raisins are good energy providers.
- Everyone should have a means of contacting help. A fully charged mobile phone, and possibly a second or third if in a group.
There is a hotel with 35 rooms and 80 beds located on the hill in the close vicinity to the Shrine. The hotel's restaurant "Adrijana" offers domestic food and drinks. Down in the Krasno Valley, as well as the town of Otočac, you can find a nice selection of holiday homes and restaurants.
Arrange all details in advance!
Tel/fax: +385(0)53 799-102
Tel/fax: +385(0)53 851-205 and +385(0)53 851-206
Tel/fax: +385(0)53 851-007
Other important phone numbers of emergency services can be found under Rules and Regs - Practical Information HR!
Northern Velebit Nationa Park
With this pilgrimage route we wish to connect our GWT2P destination with the magnificent Velebit Mountain and the third National Park - Northern Velebit! The park is famous for numerous pits, a botanical garden and the renowned Premužić trail with the astonishing view of the sea and of the continent. Also, there is a newly opened visitor center "Kuca Velebita", and renovated shepherd's houses for tourists situated far away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
The seat of this stunning national park is located in Krasno village.
Link: NP Northern Velebit
The village Krasno is located below the Shrine, 714 meters above the sea level, and is pretty old - it was mentioned for the first time back in 1275. Today, Krasno is a popular spot among the nature lovers and believers.
The locals offer excellent cheese and eco and organic produce, a visit to the Forestry Museum (the oldest forestry in Croatia - 250 years), a visit to the church and the chapel. The village also offers private accommodation and a few nice restaurants.
The whole region has a mixture of the highland climate, Mediterranean climate and moderate continental climate with a nearly perfect fusion of the clean mountain air and marine air masses enriched with aerosols. All you have to do for a full therapeutic effect is to breathe deeply!
Church of Our Lady of Krasno
The church was built in the 18th century on the foundations of the older medieval church, and the first major church restoration took place in 1716. However, the assumption is that the church was built on the foundations of an even older sacral building. The oldest trace, which confirms the existence of a previous religious building, is the marble holy water font with the engraved year 1641.
Although the exact period at which the Shrine was founded is unknown, it is believed to be the year 1761 - the year when a major renovation took place and which may still be seen carved into the church wall panel. The highest artistic value in the church is given to the wood coffered ceiling with the painted scenes from the life of Christ, Mary and saints and citations in Latin from 1740.
Kuca Velebita Visitor Center
The House of Velebit is the visitor and educational center of the Northern Velebit National Park located in the village of Krasno. It offers a variety of interesting exhibits, a wealth of interactive content and information about the natural and cultural values of the Park and the surrounding area - definitely worth a vist.
Info Center: Monday closed; Tuesday - Thursday: 8 - 17h; Friday - Saturday: 8 - 18h
Exhibits: Monday closed; Tuesday - Sunday: 9 - 16h
Diary Runolist, Otocac
Along the route you will also find a well-known dairy Runolist that is highly worth a visit. The Tomaic Family business from Otocac has many years of experience in producing a range of high quality domestic milk products. They collect fresh milk from local herders whose cows and sheep graze freely in the surrounding ecologically clean pastures full of aromatic herbs. They use traditional recipes and respect a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene throughout the food chain (including primary production through to the final consumer) to ensure that the Runolist products you buy are safe to consume.
Through the years they have handcrafted many varieties of cheese and received numerous national and international awards.
Educational Hallway and Tasting Room
Although the top quality Dairy Runolist products can be purchased at their shop in Krasno village, a visit to the headquarters in Otocac will give you a wonderful opportunity to experience a tour of the production facility under controlled conditions (educational hallway), and enjoy tasting top quality cheeses with high quality wines in a tasting room.
Laudonov gaj Forest Park
The Laudonov gaj (formal garden, a bosquet) has been declared as special reserve of forest vegetation in 1965. It is located in the northwestern part of the Krbava field within the Municipality of Udbina. The Forest Park can be accessed by turning off the state road Korenica - Otocac around the village of Bunic to the local road towards the village of Salamunic in the Krbava field.
The Reserve has a surface of 33,230 ha of a slightly wavy terrain with an elevation of 628-641 meters, and an immensely important and interesting history.
Ernest Gideon Laudon
In 1746, a captain in Bunic, then one of the frontier regiments in the Karlovac district on the Military Frontier, named Ernest Gideon Laudon, realized a plan for afforestation of the so-called live or active sand area in the Krbava field. Upon arriving at his new post, Laudon became very interested in the problem of local active sand that had caused serious damage to local farmers and the economy of the area.
During windy weather, strong air currents, especially those from the north, rise and spread fine sand particles over fertile land of the Krbava field. Any further spread of the sandy area posed a grave threat to local population. The Captain made the afforestation plan and in 1746 the Forestry Office of the 1st Lika Regiment began to plant trees following a strict military structure under the Captain's supervision.
They planted 10,000 saplings of common oak (Quercus robur) per hectare in 1m deep pits filled with humus from nearby forests. During the remaining period of the Habsburg Military Frontier system, the forest was well-protected and made good progress right up until administrative powers were handed over to the civilian authorities when a major devastation began. Unfortunately, extreme poverty (imposed by the previous rulers) led local people to make this desperate step. The extent of the destruction was so vast it prompted local government authorities to order the excavation of a deep ditch around the forest as a barrier to help preserve the rest of this important protective forest that kept large amount of sand from spreading over fertile parts of the Krbava field.
Laudonov gaj Today
Although the Park is still home to impressive ancient common oak trees planted way back in 1746, the Park Forest is today a neglected and forgotten place. Forestry experts estimate that there are still about 500 old oak trees with the highest measured height of 26 meters and the largest measured diameter at breast of 153 centimeters. The forest edge is inhabited by a set of species, primarily the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and the Black pine (Pinus nigra) that grow easy in sandy soils, and also some beech and spruce trees. Unfortunately, natural regeneration of oak trees has failed (seedlings of about 40 cm die after 2-3 years), therefore the expert's opinion is that regeneration must be guided by forest strategic plans and with strong and healthy oak saplings that are up to 2 meters high. This valuable protected forest reserve is today managed by a local branch of the state institution Croatian Forests.
We sincerely hope and cordially wish that Laudonov gaj receives appropriate care and attention from professionals, locals, and all lovers of nature and history. Visit the Park Forest during your pilgrimage. Laudonov Gaj is located 15 km away from Korenica, and about 3 km from the village of Bunic. Eco and responsible!
With immense joy and happiness, we would like to inform you that in 2021 / 2022 the Public Institution for the Protection and Preservation of Nature of Lika-Senj County began preparation of the revitalization plan for the reserve inviting all local stakeholders to actively participate in the revitalization plan. Especially worthy of mention is the education, sensibilization and active participation of primary school children who will enjoy field classes in the area of the reserve, but also the cleanup of illegally dumped waste on public land, and in the foreseeable future the construction of multi-use educational trails and other public facilities to make the stay within the reserve as pleasant and educational as possible. Bravo!!
We have no doubt that the revitalization plan will support collaborative scientific research and afforestation to make the reserve one day shine in all its splendor; one more time - Bravo!!
Kuterevo Bear Sanctuary
Not far is Kuterevo village and the famous bear sanctuary - the world-known shelter for bear orphans where volunteers from around the world care for rescued bears.
Learn more about this commendable work and the shelter for young bears that are supervised by top experts.
Address: Pod crikvon 103, Kuterevo
Phone: +385(0)53 799 222
We believe that you'll find plenty of reasons to go on this spiritual journey! Discover Krasno and Velebit!