On the trail of the Wawel Dragon
Means of transport
Family walk through history
“Once upon a time, on Wawel Hill there grew a castle ruled by the noble King Krak. His kingdom was beautiful and prosperous. Kraków grew fast, and people from neighbouring tribes flocked to its gates.” We are taken on a journey to ancient times with the exhibition Lost Wawel held at the former royal kitchen building. Our visit to this archaeological and architectural sanctuary, created at the thousand-year-old rotunda, marks the beginning of our journey through the history of Wawel Hill.
Starting from the cellar we head towards sunshine, and climb the 137 steps to the top of the Sandomierz Tower to imagine “a huge dragon appearing in the sky, his vast wings obscuring the sun. The peaceful life in the city was suddenly filled with dread.” Have a look at the western entrance to the cathedral. Above it you will see bones believed to be the remains of the Wawel Dragon. Legend has it that when the bones fall from their chain, the world will end.
According to the most popular version of the legend of the dragon who lived in a grotto under the hill, Cracovians were saved from certain death by a young cobbler named Skuba. You can visit the legendary beast’s lair by descending the spiral staircase to the Dragon’s Den. The underground cavern leads us beyond the castle walls, opening out onto the six-metre tall Wawel Dragon statue, made by Bronisław Chromy over 40 years ago. Fed with natural gas, the bronze dragon breathes real fire and scares off any daring would-be invaders of his den.
The dragon’s footsteps lead us to the river which ultimately brought his demise: “The Wawel Dragon drank and drank and drank from the Vistula to put out the fire the sulphur stoked inside him.” Along the way, pause for a moment at the statue of Dżok the dog, recalling a sad tale of canine loyalty.
The dragon’s footsteps direct us to the monastery “on the Rock”; visible from a distance, just like Wawel Hill it has a long and rich history with close ties to Kraków’s former bishop St Stanislaus. We finish the interactive lesson in Polish history with fun and games at Dragon’s Playground.
Duration: 2h 30min, parts free, indoors/outdoors