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Legend about Wawel Dragon

Original version
In Poland, a long time ago, in a den at the foot of Wawel Hill, there lived a terrible dragon. None of the inhabitants of the city Krakow from the poorest beggar to His majesty King Krak didn't know where it had come from and how it got there. Everyone always trembled with fear. Always having the scary thought that the knigths guarding the dragon made their hair stand on end when they heard the monster roar. People said there was no weapon and no way that they were going to defeat the dragon. As the days past the dragon made himself feel more at home living there which scared the villains even more. One day King Krak told to the people of Krakow: He who once and for all puts this dragon Shall recieve my sceptre and my royal crown, So come and defeat this most horrid beast And win my daughters hand and a wedding feats. After that many brave and valient knights made their way from different countries to reach Poland to defeat the dragon. Swords and arrows shattered on its scaly body as if on a shield. But nobody was able to kill this dragon or even drive it away. Time passed, the dragon laid waste to the grounds of Krakow. Fewer knights came every day. More people cam to desert the town, until one day a young man, a shoemaker, knocked on the gates of the town. He bore no arms and wore no amour. Some twine, a needle,and sharp mind were his only weapons. The guards wouldn't let him in unless he immediately went to see the king. King Krak had heard what the boy was saying and decided to put some trust in him so he could have a go. The boy said that he would need: lambskin and some sulphur. The king nodded his acceptance to him. All night long the shoemaker spent hard working on his plan. Local residents would peer through the window staring at his work. He took the lambskin, filled it with sulphur and skillfully sewed up the hole of the lambs belly. Everyone was now wondering what the morning would bring. At sunrise the shoemaker set off to see the dragon with his bag of his ideal plan.There he laid his bait and quickly hid in the nearby bushes waiting to see what was going to happen. The dragon awoke and went to hunt. Suddenly the dragon saw a dead lamb, looked at it and greedily jumped down to eat it and swallowed it whole with his jaws. When the sulphur started burnng his guts, the dragon went down to the Vistula river and started drinking, but water did not help. The dragon drunk and drunk and finally exploded. Exactly what the shoemaker had planned. The king kept his promise, and shoemaker married princess Wanda.
Alternative versions
According to Wincenty Kadłubek's Polish Chronicle, the Wawel dragon appeared during the reign of King Krakus (lat. Gracchus). The dragon required weekly offerings of cattle, if not, humans would have been devoured instead. In the hope of killing the dragon, Krakus called on his two sons, Lech and Krakus II. They could not, however, defeat the creature by hand, so they came up with a trick. They fed him a calf skin stuffed with smoldering sulphur. Then the brothers argued about who deserved the honor for slaying the dragon. The older brother killed the younger brother Grakch (Krakus), and told others that the dragon killed him. When Lech became king, his secret was revealed, and he got expelled from the country. The city was named in recognition of the brave and innocent Krakus.
Main characters
King Krak, the dragon, shoemaker
Connected artistic / architectonic / historical heritage
Royal Castle in Kraków Dragon's den in Kraków Dragon Street in Kraków
Local traditions or historical connections
The oldest information about Wawel Dragon appears in the Cronicles of Vincent Kadlubek (a Polish prelate and professed Cistercan who served as the Bishop of Cracow from 1208 until his resignation in 1218. He was also a noted historian and prolific writer). In his Polish Cronicles he connects Poland with Rome via Tiberius Grakch (Krak, the king of Cracow). The dragon is such a popular symbol in Kraków that it can be found in thousands places in the city as mural, painting, decoration. Each tourist knows the legend. Each year there is also a parade of dragons in Kraków, led by a theatrical group.
Didactical Relevance
While working with the legend students will get to know Kraków, one of the most important city in Poland – both, historicl and contemporary. They will understand better local traditions and beliefs, and historical, cultural and art importance of this city. Moreover, there is a moral that being smart menas more than money and force. The process of deconstructing the legend will teach students creative attitude towards their learning, arouse imagination and creative expression, help them discover their talents and passion and find bonds with cultures of other countries. In the terms of education students will develop their reading, analyticals and descritive skills, as well as IT skills for research and compiling information
Didactical Activity
Activity: (for the whole class or group work) geographical – find Kraków on the map, ask students what they know about the place or let them find information online historical – easily connected to geopgraphical, especially when seeking information online. art/architecture – look for monuments and historical places in Kraków literature – read the legend and check for proper understanding especially if any folk or regional terminology appears - read the legend again and look for connections with the geographical/historical/art information that were found trip to Kraków (if possible) if not – a virtual trip, n google earth for example


Legend about Wawel Dragon

PDF version of the legend in national language

Polish version (833,3 kb)