Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Every country and nation has its tale about the dragon and courageous knight or young boy who defeated it. Poland does not have many dragon-tales. There is, however, one dragon that is known by every child living in the country. It is called the Wawel Dragon.
The dragon, of course, lived long, long time ago in the then capital city – Krakow. It was not afraid of the king nor the knights that tried to kill it. The Prince of the tribe was troubled as he wanted to protect his subjects from the beast that demanded more and more livestock, threatening to eat the citizens in case it was not delivered to its cave.
Unfortunately even the contest announced by the ruler, in which he promised to give part of his kingdom and his daughter as wife to the one who would defeat the dragon, everybody was too much afraid of the beast to fight with it. Suddenly, poor shoemaker showed up at the castle promising to kill the beast that lived in the cave on the Wawel Hill. Most probably nobody believed that the shoemaker could achieve what the most courageous knights could not even undertake.
But the shoemaker, called Skuba, was very sly. He started feeding the dragon with sheep to get it used. After some time, he stuffed one of the sheep with sulfur and brought it to the cave. The Wawel Dragon ate it, not sensing that it was a trap. After having rested some time after the meal, the dragon felt thirsty. He jumped into the Vistula river and started to drink its water. The drinking would not help, but the thirst was so strong that the dragon could not stop drinking. At some point his body did not withstand that much water and exploded.
The legend comes from old Polish chronicles, however, its first versions differed a bit from the one that is the most popular one nowadays. Instead of poor Skuba, the dragon could have been killed by prince’s sons. But nobody pays attention now to such details. Wawel Dragon is the most popular landmark of Krakow now. Its cave may be entered from the Wawel Castle. The dragon is, however, not depicted as a scary beast. It lures the tourists with the mystery of Krakow legends and the mysterious cave that is situated beneath the castle.