Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Dragon of Wawel Hill

Author: Kenya Humphrey

Krakow Dragon, from Wikimedia Commons

The legend of the Wawel Dragon, also known as Smok Wawelski, is the most well-known folklore in Poland. Many centuries ago, the dragon lived in a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill and terrorized the village by eating its sheep and taking its female inhabitants as sacrifices. When only the king’s daughter was left, he sent many knights to go fight the dragon, offering his daughter as a reward. When many knights took the challenge, but never returned, a young shoemaker’s apprentice took up on the king’s offer. Though he was teased and doubted by the rest of the village, the young apprentice roasted some sheep and filled them with spices and sulfur then left them for the dragon as bait. As expected, the dragon ate the sheep. The spices and the sulfur made the dragon’s stomach burn so much that he drank the village’s river to calm it. But instead, he drank so much he exploded. The village was finally at peace and the young apprentice, Krak, married the king’s daughter.
                The old folklore is known throughout Poland and Wawel Castle and the dragon’s den have been made very popular tourist attractions.  According to an online tourist site, the dragon’s den on Wawel Hill is “surely among great curiosities of Wawel” (Debicka). As a result of the folklore’s popularity, the home of the dragon brought Krakow many curious visitors. The dragon’s den, located in Krakow, is divided into three chambers for tourists to visit. The first chamber, also known as the “A chamber” is basically just the entry to the cave. The “B chamber” is the middle and largest portion of the cave that contains a storage room, a banquet room, and a tavern that date back to the 17th and the 18th centuries. The “C chamber” is the last part of the cave that holds the main room of the tavern. Though the den has been around for centuries, “after 1918, when Poland regained its independence, the Dragon’s Lair was prepared for visitors by prof. Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz” (Debicka).
                The Wawel Castle has also become an important tourist attraction because of the legend of the Wawel Dragon.  According to an article in History Today, the Wawel Castle “brings together a number of exhibitions tracing Wawel's history” (Monte). Though the castle serves as a setting for the legend, but it also serves as background for a lot of facts of the city of Krakow. Not only is it a very renowned tourist attraction, but Krakow is also “an important educational center since the Middle Ages” (Monte). The city of Krakow may be a setting for one of the most notorious stories in the country of Poland, but it is also a setting for historical discovery and educational teachings.

                The legend of the Wawel Dragon has laid out a pathway for curiosity and investigation for the city of Krakow and its visitors. Though the dragon once terrorized the city, it is now a mascot for the city and is the reason for discoveries tourists from all around.

Works Cited and Links for Further Research:

Dębicka, Maria. “Dragon’s Den.” Zamek Królewski Na Wawelu. NP. Nd. Web. 9 Oct. 2013. 
This article gives an overview of the dragon’s den.

Monte, Richard. “Krakow 2000”. History Today. Aug. 2009. Academic OneFile. Web. 9 Oct. 2013. 
This article gives a very good background of the Wawel Dragon and its history.

"The Dragon of Wawel Hill”.Wayback Machine.  NP. 10 April 2010. Web. 9 October 2013. 
This article gives a very detailed story of the Wawel Dragon.