Smocza Jama

Dragons Den - Dragon's Cave


Useful Information

Location: In Cracow. At the foot of Wawel Hill, under the Royal Castle towers. Entrance from the Royal Castle.
Open: MAY to JUN daily 10-17.
JUL to AUG daily 10-18.
SEP to OCT daily 10-17.
[2007]
Fee: Adults PLZ 3, Children (0-6) free.
[2007]
Classification:  Karst cave
Light:  
Dimension: A=205m asl., V=250.000/a, L=230m.
Guided tours: L=120m, St=135, D=20min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Smocza Jama, King Vavel's Castle, Wawel 5, 31-001 Cracow. Tel: +48-12-422-52-55 or +48-12-422-09-04.
Last update:$Date: 2013/04/25 23:03:51 $

History

 
1190first mentioned.
1544first pictured in an xylograph.

Description

Smocza Jama is the most popular cave of Poland with about 250,000 visitors every year. An obvious reason is the location of the cave: right in the center of the capital Kraków (Cracow).

A popular legend recalls that a dragon use to live in the cave whose main source of sustenance was human flesh, preferably young virgins. The towns folk were at their wits end until a local cobbler came up with a brilliant idea. He filled a sheep's' carcass with sulphur and left it outside the cave. Next morning, the dragon, starving hungry gulped down the sheep in one mouthful. Soon, the sulphur gave him a raging thirst, so the dragon rushed to the river and proceeded to gulp down litres of water. The sulphur expanded and the dragon burst wide open and the cobbler together with the towns folk all lived happily after.

The cave has been known for centuries and there is another account from the 13th century about a dragon. It was written by Wincenty Kadubek and describes how Prince Gracchus (Krak), ordered his sons to slay the beast.

Today, at the cave entrance there is a bronze dragon which breathes real fire every few minutes.

In summer lengthy queues form at the entrance. It is recommend that you get to the ticket office before it opens, to avoid a long delay.


Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.


See also


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