Krakow


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Fighting the dragon, riding the carriage and meeting the forgotten...

Published by Dănilă Adriana

His jaws were enormous, his red eyes pierced the air with the sense of absolute power, his gigantic figure and impressive claws scared even the most courageous men. As he walked he spread fear and everyone had to bow in front of his power. The small village was terrified and soon they had to pay in flesh and blood to feed the dragon. Do you know where we are?

Kracon? Yes, we are in Krakow, the former capital of Poland, one of the most big, beautiful and historically important cities from Poland. Its name comes from the name of the king Krak. Actually dragon is the symbol of the city and the legend says that: once upon a time, there was this terrible beast that terrorized the land, asking for flesh, for he like to eat only human girls.

The people sacrificed their loved ones, but they all wanted to defeat the evil creature. They sent lots of warriors to fight against it, but none of them succeded. So, in this context, the ruller of the land, Krakus, who had a daughter, Wanda that was supposed to be sacrificed as well, promised to whom killed the awful creature, the hand of his daughter in marriage.

As usually, the winner came from the most unexpected place. It was a shoemaker who through intelligence destroyed the evil. He stuffed a mixture of sulfur in the stomac of a sheep, he sewed it back and left it in front of the cave where the Kracon lived. Being greedy he swallowed the sheep and afterwards felt really thirsty so he need to drink watter. He drank from Vistula river, who was positioned in front of the cave. He drank so much water that… Did you guess again? You’re too good, yes he exploded. The people were free and the story like all stories ends with a huge celebration and with a magic marriage.

After this dark era was over, tradition says that the city grew bigger and bigger reaching its full potential and becoming what we see today, a great place to visit and a land of many legends. What is interesting is that the myth has survived until now and moreover, the dragon can also be seen. Of course, in a full size metal shape, but its power still attracts fear since he still breathes fire through his monstrous mouth. The difference is that contemporary he does not eat people anymore, he is considered the keeper and guardian of the Wawel hill and the Wawel Castel.

Since I mentioned this place, I will have to tell you something about it. It was built during the reign of Casimir III the Great (1333-1370) and it has one of the spatious courtyards that I’ve ever seen. My house could fit in this courtyard:)). The Castel has something more wonderful than space, awesome architecture, tiny dragons looking down from the rooftops. I am talking about a wall. What is so special about this?

You can see walls everywhere, our houses are made from bricks and so is this one. This is a mystical wall, that is presumed to have divine powers. The people that believe in doing Yoga think that if you touch the wall you will recharge your batteries, your chakra. So if you’re there and want to try, why not? Another impressive thing about this place is that, here you can find one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintings, “Lady with an Ermine”. This painting is quite special because it is among the only four women portraits that Da Vinci ever made.

Wawel Castel is also a great spot to watch the sun go down. Either you chose to see it from inside the courtyard, or you go at the base of the hill, where the waters of the Vistula are sparkling, the view is amazing. I saw how the sun was eaten by the moon, how the sky turned red, blue and yellow in the same time, how the astonishing shades of the light took a bath in the mirror of the water and went to bed awaiting a new day. The moon was the queen of the view, now. The atmosphere becomes more mysterious as the night embraces the nature. Every movement from up far becomes suspect and every broken branch makes your skin tremble. Joking :)). It is in fact really nice and romantic if you have someone to hold hands with, since I don’t my imagination ran wild.

The city center awaits your presence. Here is the Cathedral called “St. Maria” famous for the two towers that form the facade, one being bigger than the other one. Legend says, in this case, that two brother started to build the church in the same time, one builded fast and the other one slower. The first one being in a hurry made mistakes so he had to stop building because there was the problem of the entire construction falling down. The other one who worked step by step continued his activity and soon his tower was taller than his brother. This brought great pain to his sibling, envy consumed him and he had negative thoughts towards his childhood companion. Obsessed by these feelings he killed his own flesh and blood and afterwards he felt so guilty that he threw himself from the rooftop of his tower. Now at night, some say that one can hear whispers coming from the church. The regrets of the brother still haunt the place. But in order to make sure this happens, one must actually be here during the evening (if you go let me know if you hear something, I didn't) :))). This church is renowned for another legend. As you see Krakow is full of spectacular stories.

Being situated in the centre of the city the Cathedral “St. Maria” was always a strategic point of defense against any invasions. The myths say that here, there was a soldier who’s duty was to watch from up in the tower for any sort of menaces. If he saw something he was supposed to blow a horn, thus signaling to the citizens of the town that danger was coming. Today the tradition still exists. There is a man that blows the horn, but now he only signals the changing the hour.

Enough about this. It is time to ride the carriage. Karkow if full of them. Beautiful white, black or brown horses are tied to wonderfully arranged carts driven by men or women dressed in elegant suits.

Riding the carriage you can see the old protection sistem of the city, consisting of what were lots of defensive walls. To penetrate this sistem, the invadors would have had to go through more than four strategic defences points. This sistem made Krakow very well guarded, in fact the city was never pierced.

Moving on. In the street of Krakow you could also see many paintings displayed that just expect a buyer. Traditional music players dressed in typical costumes. Unfamiliar and scary figures in the Square just waiting to take a picture with you.

Do you think we are done? No way! The Main Square of Krakow holds another myth for you. Here is the “Bonerowski palace”. There is a funny story behind this place, the palace used to be called The Boner Palace, but considering that “boner” doesn't mean anything positive in English, they added a polish termination so the jokes about the name stopped.

These legends and myths live in Krakow even now and for this and much more. All the buildings of the Old City became part of UNESCO heritage in 1978.

Now I will turn my attention and my consideration towards the person that told me about these unknown stories. His name was Macek and he was a guide from a great program called “Free Walking Tours ”. This guy knew every single thing about Krakow and he had a great sense of humor. He was not so attached with Warsaw because the capital from today stole this honor from Krakow, but I forgive him for that :))). You can find this guy and his nice collegues on: http://freewalkingtour.com/.

This is the end for me. Do you think you heard it all? Definitely not! The rest is up to you, to see, discover and enjoy…

(Pictures made by my dear friend, Giorgiana Astefanei)

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