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The legend of the Wawel dragon

Once upon a time, Polish lands were dwelled by small Slavic tribes. Lord of each of them was a duke. There were a lot of conflicts between them about lands, power and also property. Moreover, no agreement was made that the neighbouring countries took advantage of a situation for initiating a war. Based on Polish legend we know that tribespeople was looking forward to being conceived small baby who would unite the people and build a strong Polish country. One can read about it also in the oldest chronicle which was written by Wincenty Kadłubek.

Wonderful baby is coming…

One day all signs in the sky showed that a wonderful baby is coming. Unfortunately, fate was horrible for a boy and his mother. When a pregnant woman was travelling to meet her husband who was coming back home after a war, her caravan was attacked by robbers. The experience was so great that the princess began to give birth. Before night a beautiful boy was born. Although the kid brought hope and faith in a better future, his situation was tragic because meanwhile, the blood and corpses of the fighting knights attracted and lured a flock of black ravens. Fortunately, the prince’s troops appeared and saved the caravan.

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The boy received the name  “Krak” because a raven in Polish means “kruk”. The child was growing up in a happy family among kind people. On the  18th of his birthday, he made a decision to leave his parents. That’s the way he took an army and strived to find happiness in the other lands. They had been travelling for several days till arrived at the river – Vistula. The beautiful view, amazing hills and fertile soil made Krak decide to build there a new settlement which was called “Gród Kraka”.

The reign of Krak

The young lord belonged to just and prudent people so the Slavic tribespeople accepted him very fast. Krak willingly welcomed new settlers and managed them. He organized war expeditions therefore his tribe was rich in necessary stuff for everyday existence.  He got married to a Slavic woman who gave birth to two sons and one daughter – Wanda.

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The appearance of a dangerous dragon

One day a great misfortune befell the town – a huge dragon arrived. The beast settled down in a den under Wawel Hill and breathed fire which the people were afraid of. It was the wild beast; what it captures, it consumes. It was hunting for cows or ships. When it roars with anger, all hills trembled. The residents could notice how their fields became empty and destroyed by a dragon.  King Krak was responsible for his tribe so he sent his sons for fighting with it. Unfortunately, the brothers were jealous of the power and couldn’t agree on who will be the first king after the death of Krak. The occasion made one of them kill the other and arrive at the castle with information that the brother died during fighting with the dragon. The quarrel of sons was seen by the poor peasant who ploughed the field during that time. When Krak discovered the truth, he sentenced his son to banishment. Meanwhile, the dragon was ravaging the area.

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Based on legend some people believed that the dragon demanded a cattle sacrifice, the others said the monster had to receive the virgins.

The despairing ruler announced that whoever defeated the dragon would receive his daughter in marriage. Days and nights famous knights arrived at the castle to fight with the monster but without effect, until a young shoemaker Skuba outsmarted the monster.

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How a brave cobbler defeated the monster

He used sulphur and pitch to stuff the skin of a ram and put it in front of the dragon’s den.  The hungry monster caught the bait and devoured it. Soonly, it felt a huge pain in the stomach and a burning in the throat.  Although the dragon drank water straight from the river Vistula, it couldn’t quench the thirst. Finally, the beast exploded. All tribespeople revelled in the news and obviously, Skuba got married to Wanda, daughter of Krak.

Even if the dragon was vanquished,  the misfortunes did not leave Krak. Two years later, Skuba passed away during a war, leaving his wife and beautiful small daughter Żaganna. Krak also died of grief. He lost all members of his family who would inherit the throne.

The legend of the dragon currently

Nowadays, when you visit Krakow, you can notice a sculpture of the beast that stands by the river at the foot of Wawel, near the dragon’s den.

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