A couple weeks ago, when playing multiplayer (or rather, fooling around in multiplayer) with HeNniFerBoB, the conversation eventually led me to bring up the subject of Janosik
, who was a legendary folk hero - robbing the rich and giving to the poor.
Obviously, Janosik is not connected to any dragon legends, but he's interesting in that he actually existed; he lived in the mountains near where the borders of Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic meet, which is why he is well known in these 3 countries.
Of course the actual circumstances surrounding Janosik are somewhat different (and perhaps not quite as noble) compared to what the legends say - however, well, that's how legends work.
But since that's clearly unrelated, why do I even bring it up in the first place?
Some time after we had that conversation, it occured to me that I had missed something obvious - there's at least one place in Poland that has its own dragon legend!
That place is the ancient city of Kraków
, a former capital of Poland (for over 5 centuries).
It didn't occur to me when we had that conversation, because it's the kind of folklore that pretty much every Pole knows.
If I recall correctly, it's even taught in primary education in Poland - but don't quote me on that, as it's been a very
The legend of the Wawel Dragon
, in most general terms, is a generic dragonslaying story.
I won't go into details here, since the long version is (understandably) rather long-winded; a condensed version can be read by following the link.
As might be expected, the city of Krakow is a popular tourist attraction because of this (as well as because of many other unrelated historical structures), and there's the usual assortment of souvenirs and stuff.
There's even a neat, full size dragon statue there, which is rigged to breathe fire every couple of minutes:
It's a pretty crap picture, not showing the whole thing; but it gets the point across.
That's an old photo BTW - coincidentally, taken around the last time that I was there (but again, not actually by me) - the fire effect was rather wimpy at that time; notice how the photo had been taken at dusk? It's because the fire was very poorly visible during daytime.
We did try taking a photo of it during daytime, but the fire wasn't visible in the picture at all; moreover, I seem to have misplaced that photo anyway during all the moves and furniture rearrangements we've had over the years.
I haven't been there since then, but I've heard that they've made some improvements to the statue; I presume that the fire effect is more impressive now
Now, obviously if there was a dragon, then there also had to be a dragon's lair - and indeed, there is:
BTW, in case anyone's wondering - no, that's not me in that photo; it's just some image I grabbed from Wikimedia Commons.
I did actually visit that location a long time ago, but I don't have any photos of that - it was long before the era of digital cameras, and we only had a very basic film camera at the time, and lacked the skill to use it properly in difficult lighting conditions; so the photos we took there at that time were basically worthless.
Now, it's commonly said that every legend has a grain of truth in it - and in this case, apparently it originated due to a (very real) discovery of some dinosaur bones in that area in medieval times
, presumably during the excavation work for some construction project.
Of course at that time, no one even knew about the (former) existence of dinosaurs, so there could only be one logical conclusion as to the kind of creature that would leave such remains
Here are some of the bones in question:
Finally, there's one more thing - although the actual legend is a dragonslaying story, several years ago a Polish author wrote a series of stories which take place in an alternate timeline, in which the Wawel Dragon survived the assassination attempt.
Since these stories were targeted at readers of all ages, they're particularly nonviolent.
They're also kinda silly (but not even close
to Divinity: Dragon Commander levels of silly) - the dragon travels around the country in a car (!) with the protagonist (an eccentric scientist), as well as two other characters.
Here's an example; it's the first part of the series.
Unfortunately, these books are all in Polish, and I don't know of any translations being available - and even if they were, these stories also reference other aspects of Polish folklore, which would make little to no sense to a foreign reader