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Polish Legends # 1 – The Trumpeter of Krakow

Krakow ToursKRAKOW TOURS – In Cracow (Krakow), the ancient capital of Poland, there is a Church in the Market Square. It is a tall, graceful building built of brick, in the Gothic style, with a richly adorned interior.

It had two towers, one of which is a little higher than the other and more ornate. From the taller tower a fanfare is played by a trumpeter, every hour. It is repeated four times, but always ends abruptly, on a broken note. Here is the legend behind this tradition:

One day in the 13th century, an old watchman, keeping watch over the city of Cracow saw in the distance a cloud of dust which grew bigger with every passing moment. It was a large army of Tatars galloping towards the city. These invaders from the east had more than once advanced to Krakow and even farther, and they had pillaged and burned, looted and murdered and carried off the people to be slaves.

There was only one thing the trumpeter watchman could do. He must play the Hejnal, over and over. That would surely arouse the citizens, they would certainly be aware of approaching danger. So he played, again and again. At first the people of Krakow were puzzled. But eventually they realised that an attack was imminent.

Away on the far meadows the Tartar warriors were mounting their horses and drawing their swords. But already the old watchman could see the Polish archers arriving.

The archers took up their positions along the battlements as the tartars galloped towards the city. But by now the Polish arrows were flying. They rained down on the tartar invaders, wave after wave. Eventually the Tartars were forced to retreat, and Cracow was saved from the Mongols!

When the joy over the victory died down they realised that the trumpeter who had warned them was nowhere top be seen. So one of his friends went to look for him. However, when he reached the tower he found that disaster had struck. A single Tartar arrow had pierced the old watchman’ s throat and he had died. The trumpet was still clasped in his hands ready to blast out a final note.

The Cracovians would never forget the act of the old trumpeter watchman, and it was decreed that a bugle call should be played each day in memory of the hero. And so for hundreds of years the ‘hejnal’ has rung out over Cracow’s rooftops for the noble watchman who saved the city.

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June 2, 2010 - Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Tour Information | , , , , , ,

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