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Polish Legends # 6 – The Pigeons of Krakow (Ver 1)

KRAKOW TOURS – When it comes to Polish cities, Krakow certainly has the highest pigeon-per-square-foot rate.

The Krakow pigeons – mostly residing on the Main Square – have become one of the city’s symbols, and many-a-legend has been told about their impact on Krakow’s history.

It seems, though, that it’s only the Krakow tourists who are so fond of the pigeons, and many inhabitants seem to feel that they do more harm than good. Apart from the obvious threat they might pose to the landing and starting airplanes of the Krakow Airport, the pigeons are also a threat to the city’s landmarks, especially when it comes to aesthetics.

Anyway, tradition is tradition, and hardly anyone can imagine Krakow without its pigeons.

Back in the medieval ages, Poland was divided into several regions of relative autonomy – this period of “Regional Disintegration” lasted between the 12th and 14th centuries, and the lack of a strong central authority weakened the Polish lands. No wonder then, that Henry IV, a Polish prince residing in Krakow, decided to try and become the king of all of the Polish lands. As it usually happens in legends, Henry contacted a witch, who told the Krakow prince that to achieve his goal, he should go alone to Rome and present the pope with a large quantity of gold. She offered him assistance – she turned the prince’s knights into pigeons, and they quickly flew all the way up to theSt Mary’s Church’s tower, and started to rip out small parts of the stone and bricks, that fell on the ground turned into gold. Having collected enough, Henry left Krakow, leaving his knights-pigeons behind to keep the city safe. However, the Krakow prince never got to Rome – he spent all of his gold on girls, food and drink, got lost along the way, and never even returned to Krakow. Poland wasn’t re-united until Wladyslaw Lokietek was crowned Polish king in theWawel Cathedral in 1320, and Henry’s knights are still waiting for their king on the Main Square.

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June 11, 2010 - Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Recommendations, Tour Information | , , , ,

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