You meet him in Kraków almost everywhere you go… Most probably you’ve heard of him plenty of times… The popularity of the Wawel Dragon, the symbol and sign of Kraków is undeniable. A plush dragon, chocolate dragon, dragon on a T-shirt and finally the monument of the dragon by the Vistula River... Where did he originate from? And what’s the deal with this dragon?
Let’s begin with the history: there are a few versions of the legend, but all of them are consistent in saying that the dragon used to live in a den (later called Smocza Jama) under the Wawel Castle and during the reign of King Krakus. The dragon used to eat ate very unhealthy food – cows for dinner and young girls for dessert. All people of Kraków were worried about the dragon's diet, but it was only the young shoemaker who came up with an idea how to break the dragon's habit. Dratewka (that was his name) put a lamb stuffed with sulphur inside the Dragon's den. The dragon ate the lamb and became so thirsty that he drank half of the Vistula. The official version says that the dragon drank so much that he finally burst, but of course this is only a legend. :) The Vistula River is still where it used to be and the dragon stayed in the city until today. From 1972 it stands still at the entrace to Smocza Jama and belches fire in a friendly way to the city tourists. It belches fire also at at your command – if you send an SMS to the number 7168, you receive a text: “Welcome to the Wawel Castle... In a moment I will belch fire for you”. :)
And what is the real ending of the story? After the situation with the lamb, the dragon changed his diet and set up its own PR company. The dragon officially represents Kraków and appears on souvenirs. Even a train (Warszawa-Kraków-Warszawa) was given his name. The dragon also featured in a series of books and cartoons for children telling the story of Baltazar Gąbka. And what happened next? Of course he's been living happily ever after! :)