The legend of Smok Wawelski

Every nation has its own traditions, and an integral part of these traditions are countless myths and legends. Even though they are considered only partially true they still constitute an important aspect of national heritage.

At first oral, then written stories are handed down from generation to generation. Despite changing times and cultural trends the great national value of these stories remains intact across the centuries, enriching the national culture and identity of the people.

Poland also has its own legends about kings or princesses but the most famous is about the dragon, well known to every Polish child, is the legendary Smok Wawelski who inhabited a cave near the Wawel Castle in Kraków.

“Once upon a time there was an awful dragon that kept threatening the people of Kraków. He slew the innocent, devoured their domestic animals and plundered their belongings. Nobody could prevent his hideous deeds.

The King of Kraków, desperately worried about the tragic situation in the city, promised the hand of his daughter to anyone who could defeat this terrible creature and free the inhabitants of Kraków from his tyranny.

One day, a poor shoemaker hit upon a clever idea. He stuffed a sack with sulphur and planted it close to the dragon’s cave. Thinking this to be a nice titbit, the dragon gobbled it up in the twinkling of an eye.

Very soon he started to feel enormously thirsty. He was forced to drink half of the Vistula River, and as a result, his stomach kept swelling and swelling and eventually, it exploded, killing him! Thus the idea of a simple boy saved the lives of the whole of the city of Kraków. As promised the boy married the king’s daughter and the pair lived happily ever after.”

Smok Wawelski’s cave still exists and is a popular tourist attraction (though not in winter) at the cave, the mouth is a fire breathing statue of the dragon by Bronisław Chrobry.

Danuta Brzozowska
Students’ Union Polish Volunteer

Project co-financed by ERASMUS+.

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