Krakow and its folklore revolves predominantly around the infamous Wawel Dragon, there is the Great Dragon Parade every year when many schools show off their specially made dragons and march around Planty to then finish in Rynek the main square. The local professional rugby team, Juvenia Krakow RFC are nicknamed The Dragons or Smoki in Polish who are hosts to the annual Krakow Rugby Festival. The Dragons compete against visiting rugby teams from all over the world. Also the Dragon of Dragons Award by the Krakow Film Foundation Programme Council to the makers of documentary and animated films that have greatly influenced their fields, the award itself is a scaled down replica of Bronisław Chromy’s Wawel Dragon Statue which can be seen by the river below Wawel Hill and if you are looking for a new trendy tattoo the local tattoo artists have plenty of dragons for you to choose from.
The Wawel Dragon legend began over a 1,000 years ago when King Krakus offered his daughter, Princess Wanda, in marriage to whoever slays the body eating dragon who particularly enjoyed gorging on virgins. The dragon lived in a cave under Wawel Castle near the banks of the Vistula River had created a reign of terror over the citizens for too long. King Krakus was losing face in front of the local townspeople and drastic measures were in order to win back their support.
After many unsuccessful attempts to kill the dragon a young shoe-maker cobbler apprentice called Skuba Dratewka came up with an ingenious plan, he filled a dead sheep with sulphur and placed it near the dragon’s den. When the dragon came looking for more to eat it found the sulphur-filled sheep and quickly devoured it all at once. The sulphur now in the dragon’s stomach made it to run to the river and drink the water which then reacted with the sulphur causing the dragon to explode in spectacular fashion and again peace and harmony was restored to Krakow.
The king, true to his word, betrothed Wanda to Skuba and gave them a large town house to live in just off the main square. Skuba continued to make and repair shoes until he ventured into making wine and beer in his cellar which became so successful he opened a tavern and became known as Pan Wawelski.
Today, that legendary town house which still exists, is now a dragon themed public house in his honour, Mr.Vavelsky Cellar Pub with & Cocktail Garden. The Wawel Dragon is featured there as a massive iron sculpture fixed to the wall and ceiling and breathes smoke should you get too close. The venue is extremely popular with Krakow pub crawl groups as well as with Krakow stag do groups – should you wish to visit it, it is located in Golebia 6 street ( or if you’d like to visit Vavelsky as a part of an organised Krakow pub crawl tour you may want to use specialist companies such as e.g. https://partykrakow.co.uk/)
To perpetuate the Wawel Dragon Legend a fire-breathing dragon monument was commissioned in 1969 and the 6m tall statue is now on the Vistula River bank near the entrance to the supposed cave where the dragon resided centuries ago. The dragon let’s out a flame of fire every 5 minutes or so, or you can text to have your own personal selfie with the Wawel Dragon breathing fire. Information on texting is available by the statue, it has been reported that they receive up to 2,500 texts a day in the summer season. You can also explore the dragon’s lair nearby in the summer.
You could also witness the Krakow Great Dragon Parade which takes place every year on 30th May, the annual event covers an entire weekend with the actors of the famous Groteska Theatre staging a fantastic light and gigantic puppet dragon show in the evening after the school’s dragon march around Planty in the afternoon where the most unusual or innovative dragon present is awarded a prize. Saturday & Sunday there are the Vistula River Dragon Family Picnics with lots of entertainment including live act shows and the Knight’s Feast. The Great Dragon Parade attracts over 10,000+ people to this weekend event every year.
Naturally, in folklore legends and myths you will find different stories pertaining to the story of the Wawel Dragon’s demise. I will leave you to find out for yourselves but one thing is certain, the dragon or beast existed as it has been chronicled throughout the centuries and in Krakow the stories are passed down from generation to generation.