The term the Plitvice Lakes refers to sixteen large and small lakes surrounded by forests, but also to the entire area where they are located. It is the eastern part of the region of Lika, between the mountains called Mala Kapela and Lička Plješivica, which is most commonly called Plitvice. The present-day name has completely obscured the ancient one – Devil's garden- the term used in ancient times when this exceptional beauty of nature was revered by the people.
In that distant era, this isolated, poorly explored area gave ground to the creation of legends featuring lake fairies, harsh winters, robust highlanders and forest beasts, and the most famous one – the one about the Black Queen who created the Plitvice Lakes.
As the legend has it, after a long terrible draught that befell the province, people, animals and plants were longing for every drop of precious water. Even the Black River that brought water to the whole area went dry. The people prayed persistently, until one day, from the fairy palace hidden high in the steep rock walls of the mountain Velebit, the Black queen descended into the valley with her magnificent entourage. Having heard the peasants' prayers, the Queen took mercy and promised to give them water in abundance. Accompanied by furious winds and deafening thunder rain started to pour down on the dry lands. It rained so heavily and for such a long time that the abundance of water created lakes in the Black river's bed. The first lake Prošćansko was named after the people who prayed for water ("prošnja" – prayer).
The people were happy and satisfied and the queen watched over them. After a while the queen retreated to her underground palace near Galovac and Okrugljak. At once waters rose from the Galovac Lake and started to flow over the cave with such mighty force that they carried trees and rocks in their path. Fearing the flood the people cried for help to their queen again. A lightning struck the sky, winds and rain started to quieten, and at the top the Galovica waterfall (the highest at Lakes Plitvice) a magical glow appeared with the beloved queen in its centre. Gently, she spoke to the people “You are hardworking people of value. Guard your shadowy groves, fertile valleys and these beautiful lakes with sweet silvery brooks racing around. Many an army shall sweep these grounds and blood and tears shall be shed, yet I shall come again and bring the sunlight of a brighter future. Then your shadowy groves and sweet dales shall not be neglected; then noble people from around the world will come to marvel at your lovely Plitvice Lakes.“