The Wawel Dragon

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Krakow, the ancient capital of Poland, is said to have been founded above the lair of a dragon known locally as Smok Wawelski. There are a number of versions of this tale, but the most popular has it that the dragon pillaged the countryside for many years, devouring livestock and terrifying farmers.

The king sent out a call to noblemen and knights throughout the land, stating that whoever managed to slay the dragon would be rewarded with riches and marriage to his daughter. But none of the knights were able to get the better of the dragon, who quickly reduced all comers to a pile of ash.

A poor shoemaker’s apprentice named Skuba eventually volunteered his assistance. The king, who was by this stage rather desperate, agreed—though few people had much faith in the ability of the young lad. Skuba knew that he couldn’t kill the dragon with force, so he set a trap.

He killed three lambs, stuffed them with spices and sulphur, and left them lying outside the dragon’s cave. After the dragon had devoured this tasty morsel, he experienced a massive burning in his stomach. The pain became so great that he drank half of the nearby river in an attempt to quench it—eventually consuming so much water that he actually exploded.

Should you ever find yourself in Poland, you can still visit the dragon’s cave today.


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