Cracow, Cracovia, Krakau,…
Welcome to the most beautiful Polish city! Name it Krakow, Krakau, Krakov or Cracovia – this magical and historical city has many names in many languages, in any sounding equally poetical. Krakow has a long and rich history, and thanks to its importance it remained almost untouched through ages of wars. To understand better Krakow history, its status in all polish you have to remember, that before Warsaw was designated to be the modern era capital, Krakow for ages was the place from where Polish kings ruled their vast and powerful country.
Wawel Castle in Krakow is one of the most important historic sites in Poland
Surprisingly, it was an Arabic traveler and merchant, Ibrahim ibn Jakub, that mentioned the city’s name for the first time in his travel diaries. In 973 he described a city called „Cracoua”, which was the first name of Krakow known internationally. And what’s in the name? Polish linguistics claim, that the word „krak” means „river tributary” – and, as a matter of fact, city was build upon the river banks of Poland’s biggest river – the Vistula. Krakow is also said to be founded by legendary Prince Krak, whose name soon became the name of the city itself. However, it’s not the prince that was immortalized by legends, but his daughter, Princess Wanda. Beautiful and brave, she was once forced to marry a German prince by her father. To avoid this fate, she threw herself to Vistula and drowned.
Krakow Wawel Dragon Statue
Another legend, ever more known, and the one you will surely come by, is the one regarding famous Wawel dragon. This terrifying beast, according to the legend, used to terrorize Krakow’s citizens by demanding every year a young virgin in sacrifice. To stop this the king announced that he will give his daughter’s hand to anyone, who will be able to kill the beast. A young and smart shoemaker, Dratewka, prepared a sheep skin stuffed with sulphur and lef it on front of dragon’s den. Of course the creature was not able to resist such a guilty pleasure and ate the „gift” immediately – but it just after it did, it felt some well…stomach problems. To relieve itself, the dragon ran to the river and drank as much water as it could – which wasn’t too wise, as just a moment after if he was simply blown up.
You will surely meet this terrifying creature even today – the famous Dragon’s Den is located just below the Wawel castle – and the dragon’s of course there, with fire blowing from its mouth – you can read about it in the „Krakow Old Town” article!