Saturday, March 23, 2013

krakow, inside out

Once upon Wawel Hill

 Wawel Royal Castle rises imposingly

executive summary by darmansjah

Walking up the gentle snowcovered slope towards The Royal Castle, my breath a wisp of steam in the cold air, I am enveloped by the dream-like notion that I have been transplanted into a story by the Grimm Brothers. I almost expect to see a distressed maiden unwinding her long hair from one of the windows of the 
Gothic-era castle, with its onion-shaped domes and ochre-tiled roofs pressed against the winter sky.

Set at the southernmost tip of the Old Town, a limestone outcrop rising out of the cobbled streets and surrounded by the glistening waters of the Vistula River, it's easy to imagine fairytale royalty and mystical creatures in the grounds of Wawel Hill ( The castle has been the residence of Polish kings and queens for five centuries, and there's even a Dragon's Den - the damp cave beneath a line of turret fortifications is said to have housed a firebreathing beast that terrorised local residents in the city's early days. The ruler, Prince Krak, offered his daughter's hand in marriage to whoever could kill the dragon. Many died trying before a young cobbler struck upon a scheme to stuff a sheep with sulphur and leave it outside the animal's lair. When the dragon ate it, he became unbearably thirsty and went to the river to drink - and the water caused his stomach to swell until it exploded. The dragon died. And the cobbler? He and his princess lived happily ever after.

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