The Parsifal project (2018-1-PL01-KA201-050865) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Polish Essay on Connection with the Heritage of the Countries


The cultural heritage of all our legends is a common value. It concerns material and, above all, spiritual objects. The importance of this heritage in shaping societies is demonstrated by the fact that it is protected under the UNESCO Convention of 1972, which recognized its protection as part of a basic human right. Poland also ratified this convention in 2003 to document the living intangible heritage of our country.
This cultural heritage is a common roots, it aims to maintain regional, national and European traditions. Europe's survival as a community depends on the vitality of these traditions.

All these values ??are made up of history, literature, art, philosophy and religion. All these values ??appear in fairy tales and legends, after all, imagination has creative power and affects the understanding of this culture. Fantastic interpretation of past events gives culture artistic, but also moral value, teaches good behavior, shapes the character of these communities. It carries the conviction of the value of honest work, which is always rewarded, high in the hierarchy of heroes of people with a big heart, although poor, who can share what they have with others. working
That is why these fairy tales and legends have fascinated artists for centuries, they were given various literary and theatrical forms, appeared in paintings, appeared in films. So it should not surprise anyone that the same fantastic stories have several versions today, which also applies to the legends discussed in our Parsifal project, The title hero himself had an opera spectacle, many film realizations, illustrations in paintings and book miniatures, as well as stained glass and murals. Each time presented in the same way although told differently. Regardless of the artistic version, Parsifal will always be a model of courage.
Fantasy is characterized by great freedom in the construction of the depicted world and the characters' characters, everything is possible here, the real world is intertwined with the unreal and it gives everyone more emotion. It allows people today and also allowed to break away from the sometimes gloomy reality. It allows you to escape to another better world. In such an imaginary world of fairy tales and legends, one value dominates. In this pseudo-reality, good always wins after hardships and struggles, and noble heroes win against the bad ones. It is only important for the recipient to recognize the work as a coherent whole, operating within the world created by the author. Cultural heritage is a common dream for a better world, where there is constant spring, inviolable peace prevails, diseases do not have access to its shores, and the land is fertile as in the legendary land of Avalon, so close toParsifal.
The cultural legacy of Polish legends, which are the first element of folklore and tradition, looks similar. They are also the first stories that a child meets. They teach us the history of our nation and teach us what is good and what is bad. If the child's life from the beginning is filled with fairy tales and legends, he will learn to distinguish values, take root in them and learn the price of work and life.
Cultural heritage is also folk folklore and its rites, customs and various interesting ways of spending time with family and friends. The variety of these forms gives everyone the opportunity to learn about the old culture and a chance to have fun.

In the comparative analysis of Polish legends and legends of our partners presented below, there is a variety of elements of cultural heritage. They include in turn: the ability of man to use natural resources, life-giving water and the element of fire, the space of caves and grottos as a place for the formation of new civilizations, the importance of bread and honey as gifts of nature, sanctifying the mountains by building temples on the hills, festivals and cultural events , heraldry, monuments, works of art, emblems, museums, castles, literature, nature reserves, flags, banners, signs, symbols and culture of ethnic minorities

Within this legend one can point to many cultural elements, the value of work, courage and heroism, but what makes her special is the power of nature and the terrain that gave rise to the big city. The legacy of this legend is certainly the force of life-giving water and a symbol of fire. The action of the legend is placed by the Vistula River, which becomes not only the background, but an equal hero of the story. Szewczyk saves the city of King Krak from the dragon thanks to water in the Vistula and sulfur deposits hidden in the dead lamb. Sulfur ignites fire, water extinguishes fire. Smart and brave Szewczyk can use natural resources for the benefit of people and use them against an evil dragon. It is sulfur and the river that become the driving force of the action of these stories. This legend is dominated by the symbolism of water and the symbolism of fire as powerful forces that, when properly subdued by man, will become a powerful weapon against evil.


Within this legend one can point to many cultural elements, among which the genesis of the city of Krakow is of particular value, which according to legend has stood near the cave where important things have happened. Dragon's Cave is a karst cave with a length of 82 m. It is part of the Wawel Hill with the greatest historical and cultural significance in Poland - it is the centuries-old seat of kings and a symbol of Polish statehood. It was here that the legendary King Krak had to defeat the evil Wawel Dragon 1000 years ago and give rise to new times. Other versions of this legend point to various dragon slayers: sons of the king or poor shoemaker, but one thing is certain, this is where the city of Krakow begins. And the pit itself was for centuries a mysterious shelter for tramps, and even a cafe, today you can visit it with a guide, passing its three powerful chambers under the Wawel Hill

n this legend, there is a belief in natural products as gifts of nature. The value of this nature is very high here. This element is honey as a wonderful ingredient in baking from Toruń. Toruń gingerbreads are famous all over the world, and their unique taste is due to honey. According to legend, it enriched the taste of gingerbread so that the king himself admired them, and poor baker Bogumił gained fame and the hand of his beloved girl, Rose. He did not get the secret of this honey for free, he deserved it selflessly saving the life of the queen of bees. To this day, honey symbolizes prosperity and sweetness. And gingerbread from Toruń means exquisite taste and organic products, famous for their natural, highly guarded recipe. Another version of this legend tells about a little girl who, wanting to come to her sick father's help, baked small gingerbreads alone at night. Bees touched by her good heart came with help adding honey to the cake so that the next day the whole city was delighted with their taste. The conclusion is one - true delicacies are a gift of nature and should be deserved by honest and hard work and a good heart. This legend brings reflection on the topic of how current this day is for the world.

The cultural heritage of this legend is the need to sanctify the mountains, as evidenced by the unusual temple on the hill - the Church on Góra Ślęża, which dates back to the early 12th century until the reign of Bolesław III. According to legend, this is a place of triumph of good over evil, because that was where the battle of angels was to take place with the forces of hell. By throwing huge boulders at the Angels, they built a hill and thus closed the entrance to the devils underground. Legend has it that every time there is a storm and lightning strikes the summit, these are the devils who are trying to return to the underworld. Now on the top of the mountain stands the church of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary as a temple that bravely resists the forces of evil and legendary paganism. This temple requires constant conservation work, because its geographical location exposes it to strong lightning strikes. The walls are cracking, stairs are sliding down, but the sacrifice of parishioners and numerous tourists has been saved by the church for many years. Thanks to this temple, the mountains acquire a sacred character.

The cultural heritage of this legend is primarily its inclusion in the heraldry of the Polish capital. The legend of the mermaid is a story about a half-woman half-fish that sailed along the Vistula to the city. According to the first version of the legend, captured by greedy fishermen, she was saved by a poor guard Stas, who in love with the girl released her into the water and jumped into the depths of the river himself to connect with her eternal love. From the earliest times, the mermaid has been treated as the patron and guardian of the inhabitants of Warsaw, and her image is found in the coat of arms and as such has undergone many modifications (from bird-fish, snake-like to modern). The oldest comes from a wax seal from 1400. Due to the popularity of the mermaid motif, Warsaw was often called "the mermaid castle" and its inhabitants were "mermaids". Today's coat of arms dates from 1937, reborn after national slavery, and depicts a mermaid on a red field with a round shield turned to the right and a sword raised high as a sign of readiness to fight for his city. There are several versions of the legend of the Warsaw Mermaid. According to the second version of the legend, two sisters - mermaids - melusins ​​- beautiful women with fish tails came long ago from the Atlantic to the Baltic. One of them liked the rocks in the Danish Straits and can now be seen sitting on a rock at the entrance to the port of Copenhagen. The other reached the mouth of the Vistula, from where it flowed up its course. According to legend, at the foot of today's Old Town, more or less in the place where her monument is now, she came out of the water to the sandy shore to relax, and because she liked the place, she decided to stay here. The cultural heritage of this legend can be found on many monuments of the Warsaw Mermaid, but its two sculptures are particularly valuable for Poles.

The first monument is the so-called Old-town mermaid, a monument located in the Old Town Square. It is a zinc sculpture, designed by Konstanty Hegel and depicts a mermaid as a melusine, emerging from foamed waves, with a spirally twisted tail, holding a sword in the raised right hand, and a shield in the left. The almost two-meter figure has harmonious shapes and classic facial features. It has great cultural value and is of particular importance to Poles, taking into account the fact that as the only monument it was not destroyed during the Warsaw Uprising. The second important monument is the Vistula Mermaid - located in Powiśle, the monument was founded on the initiative of the city president Stefan Starzyński, was unveiled in June 1939. Unfortunately, the outbreak of World War II prevented the implementation of all elements of its surroundings, including sculptures of seagulls flying up, to be placed at the edge of the pool. Their models and castings were destroyed during the war. The sculpture is 2.75 m high, it was cast in bronze. It depicts a mermaid character with a raised sword and shield. On the shield there is an image of an eagle around which the inscription "Warsaw" runs. The siren was set up at ul. The Kościuszko Coast, parallel to the Vistula current. This location was to emphasize its relationship with the river, recorded in the legend of the symbol of the capital. It was also in line with the slogan of President Starzyński to become a "front to the Vistula" A reduced copy of this monument is in the Warsaw Uprising Museum, at an exhibition on the entresol showing the course of the fight in August 1944, in part commemorating Krystyna Krahelska, the author of the battle song "Warsaw children, we'll go into battle!", Which is extremely patriotic for Poles. Pablo Picasso also left the image of the Warsaw Mermaid in Warsaw during his stay in 1948, it is a mural commemorating the World Congress of Intellectuals in the Defense of Peace. In recent years, the "Mermaid Picasso" has become an emblem on some tourist souvenirs from Warsaw.


Bieszczady is a group of two mountain ranges in the Carpathian Mountains, their peak parts are occupied by picturesque pastures. One of the legends comes from the book of Andrzej Potocki entitled "Book of legends and stories of Bieszczady". It says that in this patch of land, "forgotten by God," far from civilization, where Bies and Chad settled down, making their lives so bad that no one wanted to live there. Since the Angels were not allowed into these areas so that they would not succumb to evil powers, there was a need for one of the devil groups to go to the side of good, because there must be a balance between evil and good on earth. At that time Biesy and Czady played eagle and tails. It turned out that Biesy would be of bad and Chad of good. And immediately normality returned to this land, and people came with it. Not immediately, but slowly began to settle more and more new valleys over rivers and streams, and then even went to the mountains, they founded villages under the very meadows. This is also the way to explain the coexistence of various animal and plant species in these lands, one of which is dangerous, and the other noble and human-friendly. Such species can be found today in nature reserves, which are small areas protecting the most valuable natural and landscape monuments. This unique cultural heritage is important from the point of view of nature protection and excludes any intentional human interference. One of the many reserves is probably the most beautiful landscape and forest area of ​​Sine Wiry, created on the Wetlinka River in an extremely picturesque area in the area of ​​the now non-existent villages of Łuh and Zawój (in the commune of Cisna) and Polanki (in the commune of Solina.). The area of ​​this extensive reserve covers a 7-kilometer, breakthrough section of the Wetlinka River with an old natural beech and fir forest. There are 10 plant assemblies, 350 species of forest vascular plants in a stacked pattern and many species of the Bieszczady fauna with large mammals and birds of prey. The peculiarity of this place are the rock thresholds on the rivers, foraging water birds, steep precipitous banks of the rivers and their picturesque landmark sections

According to legend, the Treasurer was a spiritual guardian of the mine, he looked after not only treasures, but also miners and everything that was underground. It was believed that the Treasurer was able to reward well-working people, as well as warn against potential threats, e.g. flooding or fire. The treasurer could make contact with a buried miner who was in need of help at that time. He particularly disliked lazy, dishonest people who avoided their duties. Such special protection was needed by a young boy who went to work at the mine to feed his sick mother, wanted to help her and risked his life for her. The young miner received a high reward from the Treasurer for his honesty, courage, diligence and love for his mother.

Treasure’s main attribute was the mining lamp, which he always had with him, illuminating the darkest shades of the underground. Treasurer's attitude to man depended on his approach to work. He was able to appreciate people who were good and devoted to their work, but he showed full ruthlessness and revenge towards people who disturbed the peace of the mine. The mining lamp has therefore become a sign of miners and to this day symbolizes honesty and courage in undertaking extremely dangerous work underground. As a sign of light, the mining lamp also appears on many mining bars, this time above the head of Saint Barbara's patron. Miners also sing songs about this lamp in the words: "The mining lamp is burning, this is our sunshine in the mine …". In 2019, the winner of the 50th edition of this event was Aleksander Krupa - an actor from Rybnik, who works in Hollywood on a daily basis

This legend tells about a Polish nobleman who, according to the report, sold his soul to the devil. However, he wanted to outsmart the devil, so he added to the signing with him the paragraph that the devil could take his soul to hell only in Rome, which he did not plan to go to. He is the main character of several fairy tales and legends, almost every one of which presents its different story. This is a very popular figure of Polish culture that has undergone many literary reiterations. Mr. Twardowski is a hero of operas, ballets, animated films, theater performances, book illustrations, woodcuts, drawings, and paintings. However, the most well-known and recited form of this reinterpretation is the ballad of the Polish national poet Adam Mickiewicz, known to almost all Poles, titled "Pani Twardowska". This time, the alchemist Twardowski sold his soul to the devil in exchange for success on earth. Coincidentally, he is in the ROME tavern, where everyone "eats, drinks, blazes smoke, revel dances, playfulness ..." and Mr. Twardowski himself is the leader - he is the king of the party. Suddenly, Mephistopheles jumps out of the bottom of the cup and reminds the nobleman that they made a deal on Bald Mountain seven years ago: for the ability to conjure, you have to give the soul to the devil. Twardowski, however, does not want to give up so easily: he demands that, in accordance with the agreement, Mephistopheles fulfills his three wishes. He devises unusual tasks to the devil: reviving a painted horse, twisting a sand whip, building a nut building, and driving nails into poppy seeds. Another request is for the devil to bathe in the holy water. However, while Mephistopheles fulfills his previous wish, the third terrified him: Twardowski demanded that the devil spend a year with his wife. And at the sight of Mrs. Twardowska, the evil spirit frightened, got scared and fled through the keyhole. This amusing tale revolves around Twardowski, who managed to outsmart the devil, and that's certainly why this character became so well known and liked in Polish literature. Inherited from ancient legends, the dramatic character of Twardowski took on the ballad of Adam Mickiewicz, a playful and ironic character. The humorous tale of a serious wizard becomes a caricature of the hero, and the devil's character does not seem dangerous but funny.