Gračišće, town of nightmares

On the winding road out of Istria we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by a dense, swirling fog. Visibility dropped to mere meters; with the road rendered hazardous, we had little choice to pull over. Trapped by the thick blanket of haze, we ventured on foot into the small town of Gračišće.

What we found there gave us pause: Gračišće was utterly devoid of all living creatures, while evidence of struggle abounded. Our explorations left us with the grim certainty that some great horror had been unleashed upon this place.


A typical deserted street. The Temple of Belial can be seen rising in the distance.

Anyone who’s ever watched Thriller or played a scary video game will immediately know the score; Gračišće had been overrun by the living dead. Compare these two scenes:


Statue among ruins in Gračišće

Statue among ruins from the zombie survival horror game Silent Hill 2. Coincidence that the characters look like Tiara and Ian? I think not.

Every time the wind stirred or a door creaked we steeled ourselves for the inevitable attack that somehow never came.  Maybe you need more proof that this town is the harbinger of the zombie apocalypse. Let’s review the signs:

Skull and Crossbones Tombstones


Unmarked graves emblazoned with dire warnings. Yep, totally normal.

Abandoned Vehicles


Where is the owner of this car? Why did they leave in such a hurry? Who or what was in the trunk?

Anti-Zombie Fortifications


You put bars on your windows keep out thieves. You put bars plus boards plus a wall of rocks to keep out an undead horde.

Mysterious Door


Gateway to horror.

  • Rotting concrete pillars and a broken light fixture? Check.
  • Moldy door covered in scars? Check.
  • Stained iron-work from 1833 in front of broken glass? Check.
  • Rusty lock that is strangely still functional? Check.

You’re looking at the entrance to a secret occult laboratory.

Once we understood what we were seeing, we hurried back to the car. Over the squeal of tires and smell of singed rubber, we could dimly make out the faint but growing sound of shuffling footsteps, thousands strong.  Even now some 2000 kilometers away from Gračišće, we are haunted by what we witnessed.