The Dragon of Krakow (Cracow)
Long ago in Polands early history, On the River Vistula, there was a small settlement of wooden huts inhabited by peaceful people who farmed the land and plied their trades. Near this village was Wawel Hill. In the side of Wawel Hill was a deep cave. The entrance was overgrown with tall, grass, bushes, and weeds. No man had ever ventured inside that cave, and some said that a fearsome dragon lived within it.
The young people of the village didnt believe in the dragon. The old people of the village said that they had heard their fathers tell of a dragon who slept in the cave, and no man must dare waken it, or there would be dire consequences for them all.
Some of the youths decided to explore the cave and put an end to such foolish talk. They thought that they knew better and dragons were just old stories from the past. A group of these young people took some torches and went to the cave. They slowly entered the cave until they came to a dark mass of scales blocking their way and the sound of heavy breathing. The boys ran as the dragon awakened and roared. Fire came from its mouth warming the boys heels and backs. When they were far enough away, they looked back and saw the dragon at the entrance of the cave, very angry being awakened from its sleep.
From that day on, the people knew no peace. Every day the dragon appeared and carried off a sheep or preferably young virgins. The populace made many attempts to kill the dragon but nothing succeeded and many of those that attempted were killed. In the village lived a wise man, or a shoemaker or a shoe makers apprentice named Krakus or Krac. He got some sheep and mixed a thick, yellow paste from sulfur. Krakus smeared it all over the animals. Then led them to a place where the dragon would see them. The dragon came out as expected, saw the sheep, roared, rushed down the hill and devoured the sheep. The dragon had a terrible fire within him, and a terrible thirst. It rushed to the River Vistula and started drinking. It drank and drank and could not stop. The dragon began to swell, but still it drank more and more. It went on drinking till suddenly there was a great explosion, and the dragon burst. There was great rejoicing by the people.
Krakus, was made ruler of the village, and they built a stronghold on Wawel Hill. The country prospered under the rule of Krakus and a city grew up around the hill, which was called Krakow, in honor of Krakus. When Krakus died, the people gave him a magnificent burial, and erected a mound over his tomb which can be seen to this day. The people brought earth with their own hands to the mound, and it has endured through all the centuries as a memorial to the person that killed the dragon of Krakow.
Karolinas parents are from Poland. She lived in New Zealand for 6 years before moving to the United States. Her parents were always sure to represent their culture, and thus Polish was spoken at home, typically they ate Polish food, and as children they learned about Polish culture. This legend in particular is interesting because Karolinas parents are from Krakow, and they would go there each year as children to visit the relatives. This is the legend of a dragon that lived in the village, and according to Karolina, some believe that the legend is true, and most believe that there are at least some elements of truth to the story as the town is named after the hero Krakus.
Karolina has visited the large 200-foot-long cave in Wawel Hill, Krakow, which has been known for centuries as the monsters den. It now attracts huge crowds of visitors each year. Whatever the truth of the dragon legend, the Dragons Cave (Polish Smocza Jama) is Cracows oldest residence, inhabited by man from the Stone Age through the 16th century. There is even a statue in front of the castle that blows real fire every five minutes to commemorate the legend.