In my last post, nearly a month ago, I posted some photos of the Wawel(Va-vell, not Wa-well as I mistakenly called it to some students at school--such a dork) Castle in Krakow. While there, we discovered the dragon's den or smocza yama was available for public viewing. SO view it, we did!
The story of the Wawel Dragon goes something like this.
Many years ago a nasty dragon flew into the city of Krakow and inhabited a cave beneath the castle. When he wasn't inhabiting his cave, the dragon was wreaking havoc on the town. The townspeople were terrified and distraught due to the mean and nasty (dare I say dragon-like) demeanor of the dragon. So much so that at the advising of the king's royal council, they began to offer up sheep and goats as a sacrifice and to prevent the dragon from turning on and gobbling up the townsfolk. This satisfied the dragon, but not for long...he began to peruse the royal fields for dessert. The king sends out his bravest knights to try and kill the beast, but none are a match for the dragon. Just when the king is at his lowest and fears nothing can be done, a lowly cobbler knocks at the castle gate. The cobbler convinces the king to trick the dragon rather than try and defeat it by force. The cobbler takes a sheep as offering the next morning...but not just any sheep...this sheep is made from tar and sulfur. The dragon gobbles up the sheep and suddenly feels a horrible burning in his stomach...he flies to the Vistula and begins to drink from the river. Unable to satisfy his thirst or stop the burning, the dragon drinks so much that his belly grows bigger and bigger and bigger until.....you guessed it...he explodes into thousands of pieces. The king and the townsfolk rejoice, the cobbler is greatly rewarded and of course, the king gets a brand spanking new pair of dragon skinned boots.
This is the version I've been reading to the students at school anyway...in other versions of the story not only livestock but also townsfolk especially young girls are the dragon's food of choice so once per month a virgin is sacrificed to the dragon. Ends up the only one left in the town is the king's daughter and she is promised to anyone who can rid the land of the dragon. The cobbler prevails and ends up marrying the kings daughter. For the kids at school, I've been sticking w/the first version.
The entrance to the dragon's den was about a million extrememly narrow stairs leading straight down a winding staircase into the cavern.I ask you, is it possible to visit a Dragon's Den and NOT ham it up a little? For some of us, it is impossible.
This is our dragon, Smok Wawelski.The kids at school were especially in awe of this photo of the dragon statue breathing fire. They did a lot of "ooohing and Awwwwwing"!
Now, I tend to have a runaway imagination and I absolutely love books and movies in the fantasy genre, so it was extremely easy for me to imagine that this cave was the home to a nasty, fire-breathing dragon once upon a time! While I did see some absolutely amazing and breathtaking sights in Europe, I will say that visiting the Smocza Jama at Wawel was one of the coolest things I've ever done.