I realize that Erasmus is mainly about studying, but as you study all the local clubs… take your chance to discover Polish folklore and keep up to date with art, music, science and fashion news.
As some of you may know Kraków (or officially Royal Capital City of Kraków) is one of the oldest, largest and most beautiful cities in Poland, often described as the cultural capital of the country.
Kraków is a major centre of education with approximately 170,000 students. Among the university’s most prominent students were Pope John Paul II and Nicolas Copernicus, the creator of the heliocentric theory, known as the one who „stopped the sun and moved the earth”.
Every year in May during the traditional student’s festival called Juwenalia young people are officially given the keys to the city as a sign of their authority. To celebrate it students organize concerts, open-air parties, barbecues as well as marches during which they wear funny costumes.
Talking about festivals – there are over fifty culture festivals in Krakow every single year. The most popular of them: the Krakow International Film Festival, International Street Theatre Festival, Coke Live Festival, Unsound Festival (electronic and experimental music), Summer Jazz Festival – attract crowds of tourists.
Festival that you have never seen is the Garlands festival (Wianki) when the shortest night of the year (the Midsummer Night) is celebrated. On that magic night marriageable girls wove garlands to lay them later on the river. If the garland was evenly hanging on the water it meant good luck in love and life. But when the garland was floating over and over or just sank, it was the sign of the complications in love, misfortune and bad luck.
Nowadays this ancient custom has turned into a popular fiesta and a great show with musical acts and fireworks display upon the riverbank opposite the Royal Wawel Castle.
It is not a simple task to describe the unique character of Kraków to those who still have not had the opportunity to be here. For sure here are city must-sees like the Old Town, whose heart is the large Market Square (Rynek). Secondly, Kazimierz district, which is cradle of Jewish culture. Across the river from Kazimierz, the Podgórze district is just starting to get trendy and is well worth exploring. And finally Wawel, the seat of both the Royal Castle and the cathedral – the spiritual home of the nation.
If you visit Wawel you can’t miss the flame-blowing dragon in front of it, or the cave it’s guarding. But how the dragon became a symbol of the city? I‘m explaining.
Once upon a time, during the reign of Prince Krak – legendary founder of the city of Krakow – young girls was constantly disappearing, and no one know why. One day it turned out that at the foot of Wawel Hill in a huge cave, there lived a terrible dragon. The beast was not only kidnapping cattle, pigs and all manner of animals but its delicacy were young girls. Prince Krak declared: „The one who kills the dragon, get half of the kingdom and my daughter as a wife.” Many brave knights have tried to kill the dragon but none of them was able to beat him.
Finally, a young shoemaker came up with a great idea! He stuffed skin of a sheep with sulfur and threw into the dragon’s cave. The hungry monster ate a lamb right away and soon after, he felt a burning sensation in a stomach. He ran to the bank of the Vistula and started to drink water from the river. He couldn’t quench the thirst so drank more and more until he exploded!
The city was liberated from the dragon, a shoemaker received promised award from the king and married his daughter.
So, if you are scared of dragons, you will get used to them during your Erasmus time in here.
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