Smok Wawelski

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Smok Wawelski from Sebastian Münster's Cosmographie Universalis, 1544

Smok Wawelski, also known as The Dragon of Wawel Hill or simply The Wawel Dragon, is a famous dragon in Polish folklore.


Wawel Hill is in Kraków, Poland, which was the capital at the time. The Wawel Cathedral and Kraków's castle still stand on Wawel Hill. The cathedral features a statue of Smok Wawelski and a plaque commemorating his defeat by Krakus, a Polish prince who, according to the plaque, founded the city and his palace over the slain dragon's lair. The dragon's cave under the castle is now a popular tourist stop.


Smok Wawelski laired in a cave under Wawel Hill on the banks of the Vistula river. In some stories the dragon lived before the founding of Kraków when the area was inhabited by farmers. A popular version of Smok Wawelski's tale takes place during the reign of King Krak, the city's legendary founder. Each day the evil dragon would beat a path of destruction across the countryside, killing the civilians, pillaging their homes and devouring their livestock. In many versions of this story, the dragon especially enjoyed eating young girls, and could only be appeased if the townfolk would leave a young girl in front of its cave once a month. The King certainly wanted to put a stop to the dragon, but his bravest knights fell to its fiery breath. In the versions involving the sacrifice of young girls, every girl in the city was eventually sacrificed except one, the King's daughter Wanda. In desperation, the King promised his beautiful daughter's hand in marriage to anybody who could defeat the dragon. Great warriors from near and far fought for the prize and failed. One day, a poor cobbler's apprentice named Skuba Dratewka accepted the challenge. He stuffed a lamb with sulphur and set it outside the dragon's cave. The dragon ate it and soon became incredibly thirsty. He turned to the Vistula River for relief and he drank and drank. But no amount of water could quell his aching stomach, and after swelling up from drinking half of the Vistula river, he exploded. Dratewka married the King's daughter as promised and they lived happily ever after.


Wavel Dragon sculpture breathing fire
  • In 1970 a metal sculpture of the Wawel Dragon designed by Bronislaw Chromy was placed in front of the dragon's den.

It is stylised, with six legs, and, to the amusement of children, it noisily breathes fire every few minutes, thanks to a natural gas nozzle installed in the sculpture's mouth.

Currently the dragon breathes fire every five minutes, or when an SMS with the text "SMOK" is sent to a specific number.

  • Wawel Dragons (Gold, Silver, Bronze Grand Prix Dragons and Dragon of Dragons Special Prize) are an awards, usually presented at Kraków Film Festival in Poland.


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