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Trsat Dragon: A Field Marshal, His Tomb and a Legend

On 24 January 2024, the Croatian National bank released two new collector coins in collaboration with the Croatian Mint. The gold coin has a face value of 100 euros, while the silver coin with the same design has a face value of 4 euros. They commemorate one of Croatia’s most beautiful legends.


Two Basilisks in front of a Count’s Tomb

Thanks to Harry Potter, everyone now knows what a basilisk is: a deathly creature that combines the winged body of a serpent with the head of a rooster. The mythical creature is particularly dangerous because its breath is poisonous and its gaze can turn any opponent to stone. Croatia’s two most recent collector coins feature a basilisk. However, this image has nothing to do with Harry Potter but with an Irish soldier.

Count Laval Nugent of Westmeath was one of the many adventurous aristocrats of the 19th century, who sought their fortune in the military. He joined the Austrian army, made a career for himself during the Napoleonic Wars, married a rich heiress, and treated himself to a ruin, located on the picturesque Trsat hill above the city of Rijeka, that he turned into a neo-Gothic castle for his retirement. When Count Laval Nugent died in 1862, he was buried in a crypt specially built for him called “Heroes’ Peace” (Croatian: Mir junaka), for which the Austrian sculptor Anton Dominik Fernkorn created two basilisks. The people of Rijeka associated these sculptures with a wonderful legend.

Trsat Castle today. Photo: Han Jongeneel - CC BY 3.0

Trsat Castle today. Photo: Han Jongeneel – CC BY 3.0

The Dragon with the Golden Heart

Legend has it that a dragon once lived on the Trsat. Every morning, the dragon flew over the land to rejoice at how happy people were. One day, he saw a little girl sitting too close to the sea. Lost in thought, she drew a picture of the colourful fishing boats. The dragon began to worry about the child. It knew that an evil giant octopus lurked in the depths of the water, ready to pull humans into its wet realm. But the girl’s father came, took her home and promised that she could finish her drawing on the next day. The giant octopus heard this. And so he came to catch the girl. However, the dragon had also heard. And so he came to defend the girl. It was a terrible battle, and the dragon fought hard to win. In the end, the dragon was able to save the girl but was badly insured itself. It was in this moment that the dragon realised that it cared too much for humans. So the dragon flew away. And when the girl went to its cave on the next morning to thank the dragon, the place was empty. To commemorate what happened, the girl’s father had two statues of the dragon erected on Trsat, which have been guarding the peace of Rijeka to this very day.

Croatia / 4 euros 2024 – Trsat Dragon / 31.103 g – 1 ounce / 38.61 mm /Silver .9999 / BU / Issue: 5000 pieces.

Croatia / 4 euros 2024 – Trsat Dragon / 31.103 g – 1 ounce / 38.61 mm /Silver .9999 / BU / Issue: 5000 pieces.

The Design

Both collector coins feature the same design. The obverse depicts a basilisk with the body of a serpent, bat wings and a rooster’s head. The circumscription reads TRSATSKI ZMAJ 2024 (= Trsat Dragon 2024).

The reverse also shows a basilisk, holding the personal coat of arms of Count Laval Nugent of Westmeath in the claws of his right paw. The circumscription reads REPUBLIKA HRAVATSKA 100 EURO or 4 EURO.

The design was created by Natalia Danysz.

Croatia / 100 euros 2024 – Trsat Dragon / 31.103 g – 1 ounce / 32 mm / Gold .9999 / BU / Issue: 100 pieces.

Croatia / 100 euros 2024 – Trsat Dragon / 31.103 g – 1 ounce / 32 mm / Gold .9999 / BU / Issue: 100 pieces.

Issue Date and Price

Anyone who wanted to obtain one of the gold issues had to be quick: after the launch on January 24, 2024, it only took 30 minutes for the gold coins to be completely sold out. Pieces in silver can still be purchased directly from the Croatian Mint store at Their price is adjusted on a daily basis, depending on the current silver price. Added to this is the VAT of the country the buyer has the coin shipped to.