Pigeons in Krakow

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Krakow, Poland

Pigeons in Krakow Reviews

festerwretch festerwr…
54 reviews
Jan 29, 2008
If you visit Kraków, you will see pigeons, there is no getting around this fact. These pigeons are not as fat or bold as the ones in Prague, or as ornery as the ones in New York, and you won’t get fined for feeding them. They are ubiquitous, and you may wonder why they are not treated with as much contempt by Crakovians as other pigeons around the world seem to be by the residents of their cities (think of what you’ve heard pigeons being called… “flying rats” “transporters of disease” … etc…).

Well… as is so common in Kraków, there just so happens to be a legend about these pigeons, and unsurprisingly, this legend involves magic. As it is a legend passed down over centuries, I have come across a few different versions, but below I have written my own summary based on the various versions of the legend I have come across in my research. In it I attempted to incorporate the common elements of all the versions.

In the late 1200s various princes were trying to lay claim to the throne of Poland, one of the most prominent was the senior prince of Poland, Prince Henryk IV Probus, Duke of Wrocław (aka Henryk the Honest). He felt his claim was strongest, and was promised support from around the country if he was able to gain the approval of the Pope. To do this he must travel to Rome and gain an audience with the Pope, but Henryk did not have the funds for the journey. Out of options, Henryk agreed to meet with a witch living in the wilderness outside the protective city walls of Kraków. This witch was pleased to help Henryk, however there was one caveat, the Prince would receive his travel funds but his knights must remain behind and not accompany him on his journey – furthermore, during Henryk’s absence those knights would be transformed into pigeons, only able to be returned to their natural state upon “King” Henryk’s return, meaning he must gain the approval from the papacy which would then validate his claim and he would be crowned King of Poland. Henryk’s knights were loyal and an agreement was made with the witch. On Rynek Główny (Kraków’s main market square) the witch performed this transformation; the knights became pigeons and flew to the roof of Kościół Mariacki (St. Mary’s Church). Alighting upon the roof, the pigeons caused pebbles to roll off and fall to the ground. When these pebbles landed on the ground, they became gold coins, and Henryk had vastly higher amounts of gold than he required for his journey. So he set off, and paid little heed to his expenditures, spending it on lavish meals (and more than a few ladies benefited from his generosity). Before the Prince even reached the Italian border, he was completely broke. Without money, he couldn’t continue, so he began to make his way back to Kraków, which penniless, was not an easy journey. Once there, he found his knights, still as pigeons, with no way to transform them. He searched for the witch, but could not find her. Henryk never gained the Pope’s approval and a few years later died (some claim he was poisoned by a rival … but that is a different story), still as a prince, his knights still pigeons. …so, the legend goes, the pigeons in Kraków, and of course the ones on and around Rynek Główny are pigeons descended from the knights of a would-be king.
Pigeons eyeing some food!
Random people I don't know - playi…
Random people I don't know - playi…
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frogas says:
are they tasty? ;)
Posted on: Apr 29, 2008
mikevirgo0824 says:
congatulations on being featured! interesting blog. looks like your putting your transatlantic studies to good use.
Posted on: Feb 03, 2008
krissynae says:
Congrads on being featured review. Great blog..
Posted on: Feb 03, 2008
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