The cave that the legendary dragon inhabited leads down from Wawel Hill to the bank of the Vistula. The legendary beast terrorised the locals and demanded offerings of cattle, though in an alternate version of the tale these were virgins.
Not even the strongest of warriors could cope with the Wawel Dragon. It was defeated only by the smart shoemaker’s apprentice Skuba, who exploited the worst of the beast’s weaknesses – voracious gluttony. The boy placed a ram’s hide stuffed with sulphur in front of the entry to the cave, and the serpent swallowed it with glee. Soon the monster began to suffer horrible thirst: it was the sulphur burning his innards. He waddled out from his cave to the Vistula, and began to drink water, but could not quench the thirst. Dragons as it is known don’t give up easily, so he drank without a moment’s rest, quite forgetting himself until he burst!
A sculpture presenting the Wawel Dragon stands by the cave’s mouth in the Vistula embankments. A few hundred years ago, the cave harboured a famous inn (or more than that), where – mindless of the warning contained in the legend about the monster’s fate – locals and numerous travellers quenched their thirst. The entrance to the Den for contemporary visitors is on the hill, behind the Thieves’ Tower. The 81-metre (265 ft) long route leads along corridors and across chambers with fossils and assorted karst formations to the riverside.
Tickets: PLN 9/7
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