A gas-fueled, fire-breathing dragon sculpture fronts the so-called Dragon’s Den, a jagged-edged cave under Wawel Hill. According to legend, the man-eating serpent once lived there.
“A lot of brave knights tried to kill the dragon but it was too big and strong,” explains Weigel. “One day, a shoemaker fed it a lamb filled with sulfur. When the dragon ate it, it kept drinking and drinking water from the Vistula River until it exploded.”
Outside the city, visitors descend more than 800 steps – nearly 450 feet – into the Wieliczka Salt Mine and pass salt sculptures along the way. Lit by the dulled sparkle of salt chandeliers, the key attraction is the Chapel of St. Kinga with a carved salt alter and three-dimensional salt reliefs including a nativity scene and the Last Supper. To the side stands a larger-than-life salt figure of Pope John Paul II, sculpted in 1999.
“The work of the miners was very dangerous, so they prayed a lot,” says Wieliczka guide Agnieszka Gancarz. “So this is a good place for praying and silence.”
If You Travel to Krakow
Author Bio: Houston-based writer and former TV news reporter RICHARD VARR is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). He’s a longtime contributor to cruise, RV and AAA magazines as well as other publications and websites.