An Guide to Poland’s Most Captivating Legends

The Legend of the Wawel Dragon (Smok Wawelski)

The legend tells of a fearsome dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, terrorizing the residents of Krakow. The King promised his daughter’s hand to anyone who could slay the beast.

A humble cobbler named Skuba came up with an ingenious plan. He filled a sheepskin with sulphur and left it outside the dragon’s den. The dragon devoured it and became so thirsty that it drank from the river until it burst.

Skuba was hailed as a hero, married the princess, and they lived happily ever after.

The Legend of the Warsaw Mermaid (Warszawska Syrenka)

This legend begins with a mermaid who decided to rest on a riverbank near the Old Town of Warsaw and chose to stay. Local fisherman noticed their nets were being untangled and their fish released.

They planned to trap the offender but fell in love with the mermaid upon hearing her song. A rich merchant captured the mermaid and imprisoned her. Hearing her cries, a fisherman’s son rescued her.

In gratitude, the mermaid vowed to protect the city and its people. Today, the mermaid, armed with a sword and a shield, is the symbol of Warsaw.

The Legend of the Trumpeter of Krakow

As the Mongol invaders were approaching the city of Krakow, it was the duty of the city’s trumpeter to sound the alarm. As he was sounding the alarm, an arrow struck him in the throat, interrupting the call mid-note.

To honor his sacrifice, the interrupted melody is still played every hour from the tower of St. Mary’s Church, symbolizing the trumpeter’s untimely death and his dedication to his city.

The Legend of Lech, Czech, and Rus

The legend tells the story of three brothers who went on a hunting trip together. Each of them followed a different prey, which led them in different directions. Rus went east, Czech traveled to the west, and

Lech made his home in the flat plains in the north, where he saw a white eagle against the red setting sun. He took this as a good omen, settled there, and founded Gniezno, the first capital of Poland, and chose the white eagle as the symbol of the country.

The Legend of the Popiel and Piast Dynasty

The legend has it that Prince Popiel was a cruel and corrupt leader who was overthrown by Piast, a humble wheelwright. Piast was a just and wise ruler, beloved by his people, and he established a new dynasty that ruled Poland for several generations.

This story serves as a reminder of the importance of justice and humility in leadership.

The Legend of King Bolesław and his Knights

According to this legend, good King Bolesław’s knights were turned to stone while they were marching against Germany. However, they are not gone forever.

It is said that they will awaken when Poland is in grave danger and come to its rescue. This myth embodies the spirit of patriotism and the love for their homeland that lives in the hearts of the Polish people.

The Legend of the Baltic Sea Amber

This romantic tale speaks of Jurate, the queen of the sea, who fell in love with a humble fisherman named Kastytis.

Perkunas, the thunder god, was furious at this union and destroyed Jurate’s amber castle in a fit of rage. The shattered pieces of the castle washed up on the shore of the Baltic Sea and can be found as amber, known as the “gold of the north”.

The Legend of Master Twardowski

Master Twardowski was a nobleman who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for special powers. However, Twardowski managed to trick the devil and escaped to the moon where he remains to this day. His story serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of greed and the desire for power.

The Legend of the White Eagle

The founder of Poland, Lech, spotted a white eagle against the setting sun and considered it a good omen. He decided to settle there and founded Gniezno, which became the first capital of Poland.

The white eagle that he saw that day later became the emblem of Poland and continues to be a national symbol.

The Legend of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa

The Black Madonna of Częstochowa is a revered icon in Poland. According to the legend, the icon was damaged during a raid. Despite attempts to repair it, the scars on the Madonna’s face always reappeared.

Then, one night, the icon miraculously healed itself. The Black Madonna became a symbol of resilience and faith for the Polish people, reminding them of their strength and unity.

Bartosz is a travel writer, photographer & founder/editor of theuniquepoland who tells stories of adventure, history and current affairs. He writes mainly about travel, with special focus on Poland. He loves travelling, discover new unknown and inspire others.

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