Ghosts from the Biała Przemsza river areas

Legends such as these are usually read with a flush of excitement! One about the devil, who spilled an entire sackful of sand, in what now is the Błędowska Desert, another one about a team of knights , who once a year wake from their enchanted slumber (keep reading to find out when) or yet another one about an opulent castle buried under the ruins.

Where the Biała Przemsza commences its course, one may hear a great many legends, fairy tales and folk tales that have been passed from generation to generation.

How the devil went to fetch desert sand

A desert in the middle of the continent is a phenomenon extraordinary enough to require a legend describing how it came to be. According to one such tale, the ocean of sand in the Klucze area spilled out of a certain devil’s huge sack. He went to fetch it all the way to the Baltic coast, to fill up the mine shafts, so that the miners wouldn’t disturb his fellows in Hell. This legend is cited by courtesy of the webpage:  www.polskasahara.pl

The whereabouts of hell are not exactly known, but some devilish habitat must have existed near Olkusz. It was many centuries ago, back when the first lead and silver mines came to be there. And these very mines became the subject of a grand council of demons somewhere deep underground.

"Impudent mortals! How dare they disturb us?!” exclaimed the grandest of the devils, angrily tugging at his goatee.

”One can’t even have a peaceful afternoon’s nap because of all that noise, all their banging and rattling up there… Always digging, always delving… If we don’t stop them, they may eventually reach our home!”

”God forbid!” foolishly blurted out the youngest of the minions. Thankfully, this godly exclamation was lost in the noisy dispute and went unnoticed. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have got away with even mentioning the Lord’s name among his fellows.

”They must be driven away and taught a lesson not to meddle in our devilish matters” revealed one demon with a serious, sagacious face and a tail already bald from old age. ”But how does one do that?” mused all the other devils.

”I’ve an idea,” said yet another and most cunning of them. ”All we have to do, is fill up the shafts that these impertinent creatures have dug out. Their work will be ruined and then they’ll let us be.”

”Fill them up!” scoffed the devils. “Easier said than done. Our kind is capable of many things but not omnipotent. Which one of us should dare and do this?”

”I will” said one of Beelzebub’s younger minions. All the older devils glanced at him pitifully. ”Here we are, racking our horned heads over the dilemma” they seemed to say. “And yet you say you can do it?

”I sure will” repeated the young devil and explained his idea how. ”Far in the north,” he said,”the seashore abounds with sand. I’ll fly all the way up north with a big sack and get the sand to fill up the shafts.” Even the oldest and wisest devils nodded with respect.

”Then get ye to the sea, brother,” said they, “and mind you, get a huge sack, so that you fill’em all in one go.”

”I’m on my way!” he exclaimed, grabbing an enormous sack and off to the sea he flew.

He landed on the seashore at midnight, the only things disturbing the nightly silence and darkness being the gentle moonlight and quiet splashing of the waves against the shore. As soon as the devil filled his sack with the sand, he shouldered it, took off to the sky with all his evil powers and back to Olkusz he flew. Alas, he didn’t reach his destination. Maybe because of his carelessness and maybe because of some higher power at work, the sack got caught on the Olkusz church tower and ripped open, spilling the sand all over the surrounding fields.

Hence the Błędowska Desert is the result of the devil’s excursion to the sea, whereas the mine exploitation for lead and silver would not cease for a long time. And not even the angry grinding of the devils’ teeth seemed to bother the miners.

Enchanted knights wake up once a year


Remember the legend while touring the castle in Rabsztyn. It is believed that under its ruins there is another castle, much more beautiful... The legend has it that in one of the main chambers of the magnificent castle hidden deep underground there are two children that have been changed into a stone: a boy and a girl. The boy has on his finger a ring set with diamonds and the girl a string of pearls hanging on her neck. In the neighbouring halls there is a number of iron knights sleeping under a spell. Once a year, on Palm Sunday when the procession from the nearest church starts, they wake up from their dream.  At this time the ring on the boy’s finger turns around a little, the castle halls open, the enchanted knights wake up, regain speech and sit down at the table bending under the weight of the finest dishes. The feast lasts until midnight. After Palm Sunday everything is changed into stone again. That is repeated every year until the ring comes off of the boy’s finger one day. When this occurs, the knights will be freed from the spell. Awakened knights under the command of the boy will fight against Poland’s enemies.  They will be supported by other enchanted armies. After the victory, the girl with pearls will give each of the knights a pearl as a token of remembrance of the brave fight for their motherland. (source: http://www.rabsztyn.ilkus.pl).


The evil squire who sprouted antlers.

In the north-western part of the village Krzykawka (in the Bolesław commune), in an area dubbed the Zamczyska (Pol.”castles”) by the locals, there are the remains of a knightly castle from the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries. Legend says, many years ago the area was ruled over by a certain corrupt squire, who, together with his minions, plagued the locals. Very often, plundering parties left the castle to sack the local peasantry. They would take the people’s money, clothing and food, not sparing anyone. Many a tear was shed, when poor folks had their last little bit of grain stolen from the larder, or their shirts taken from their backs. The dishonourable lord of the castle became rich and together with his team would daily feast on and waste away most of his loots. The tables were literally groaning with dainty dishes and more often than not, a half bitten piece of ham, or venison leg was thrown away to the dogs. Even the brigands’ steeds never touched hay and oats, instead feasting on wheat and barley. The singing and carousing could be heard at a large distance. The plundered farmers, bee-keepers, shepherds and hunters could only clench their fists helplessly, looking at the brightly illuminated tower in the middle of the castle grounds, where the team would readily feast. One day, the plundering party were coming back home, so loaded with loots, that their horses could hardly walk the stony and sandy roads. Suddenly, they came upon a poor pilgrim, a slice of stale bread and a flask of water being his only earthly possessions. Without mercy, despite the poor man’s pleads, they took away even that. What was he to do? A long road lay ahead of him, the local people were equally poor, and so the pilgrim followed the plunderers to the castle, to beg for mercy. Before he reached his destination, the feast was well underway. Again, rivers of wine and beer were poured, roast fowl crowded the table and courses of roast boar and venison, were brought in constantly. Not even the gate was opened for the pilgrim. As he called out with feeble voice, asking for mercy, he was hardly heard. Everybody leaned out of the tower windows, jeering at the wanderer’s poverty and humiliation. They all laughed rowdily, the evil squire’s cackle being the loudest. He even had the gate opened and the pilgrim admitted to the courtyard, to torment him even more, for he never meant to invite him to his table or feed him at all, even with leftovers. So the pious pilgrim stood meek among jeers and shouts. Suddenly, among the rowdy calls, one single scream could be heard. Everybody turned silent and leaned further from the castle windows, to see what was going on. It was one knight from the squire’s team, who suddenly sprouted a pair of enormous deer antlers on his forehead. Suddenly, the rest of the team also felt their heads become heavy and looked in awe and amazement at one another’s antlers, which made it impossible for them to retreat inside. The evil squire himself was stuck in the window, his own head adorned with a wide pair of elk antlers. Seeing the squire and his team stuck in the windows, the pilgrim came inside, sat down at the table and began feasting on the dainty dishes, washing them down with costly wines. The screams of the punished courtiers could be heard far and wide across the area, until the villagers from near and far, so harshly abused by the squire and his team, began coming in. They came nearer and nearer, at last they reached the courtyard and tower, seeing the pilgrim, they followed suit, sitting down at the tables and feasting on the rare delicacies. Later, they took away whatever they could from the looted riches and went away, ignoring the courtiers stuck in the windows. The screams and beseeching of the evil squire and his team echoed over the area for a long time, hence the villages where they could be heard were called Krzykawa and Krzykawka, from the Polish word krzyk, meaning ”scream” (N). It is also said, that elks, which sometimes pass through the Biała Przemsza valley, to the marsh areas, come here lured by the braying of the evil squire.

The pilgrim’s frozen words

The tale of the frozen words recounts the story of a pious pilgrim, who was walking from Kraków to the Częstochowa sanctuary and on the way got stuck in an area so rocky, it seemed to have no exit. Wherever he went, no matter the direction, he would eventually face the steep, white limestone walls, among the beeches. Everything formed a huge fern-covered labyrinth. He spent there the whole summer, autumn also passed and along came winter, so freezing, that birds dropped dead to the ground in mid-flight. The pilgrim was waiting for certain death from the frost, when suddenly he saw an ermine crawl into a crack between the rocks. His eyes brightened with joy – maybe the critter was showing him the way through. “It’s the way out!” – he exclaimed with joy to himself, but the words froze in mid-air and the poor pilgrim turned to cold stone from the biting cold. Soon other pilgrims came, a whole group of them, and just as their fellow, they couldn’t find the way out from the high rocky labyrinth. They started to bemoan their sorry fate, when suddenly the spring sunlight thawed the first pilgrim’s frozen words. One of the group looked to the ground, only to see the words, until now covered with ice and snow. He came up closer and read out loud “It’s the way out!” So everybody followed the queer clue, found the way out and headed straight for Częstochowa. Here’s how the frozen words saved many a poor soul.

The innkeeper’s daughter who gave her heart to a bandit

Among the legends there is also a great love story... Between Zadroże and Trzyciąż, towards Glanów, there are hills called Karbania, coloured with white cliffs and lush vegetation. Centuries ago, when the royal trade route ran that way, there was an inn on top of one of the hills. From time to time, wandering travellers going from Kraków to Częstochowa, or even further north, stopped at the inn. It is worth mentioning that among regulars were royal messengers and traders.  All of them often used the hospitality of the innkeeper John.  The pride of the inn was the beautiful and clever innkeeper's daughter - Dorota. The unique beauty of the girl meant that quite a few respectable bachelors competed for her hand. She, however, in a skilful manner rejected suitors. Her heart had for a long time belonged to one of the bandits, many of whom lived in the surrounding woods. Dorota’s beloved was called Głowacz. He returned the feelings of the girl and they planned the future together. Therefore, Głowacz thought about giving up his current profession. The lovers kept their relationship secret for a long time, but in the end Dorota decided to tell her father. Although he had been a forgiving and loving father to his daughter, the innkeeper did not accept the relationship, and having heard from his only child that her husband will be only Głowacz and nobody else, with a heavy heart he decided to shut his daughter in a convent in Imbramowice. Meanwhile, the night before the implementation of the innkeeper’s plans, Dorota had an extraordinary dream, during which her deceased mother blessed their union and said, "Flee to Kraków". The girl did not hesitate; she took the necessary things, met Głowacz and left Karbania. When walking tired them, they stopped at the Kraków Kleparz, where they decided to start a new life. He became a blacksmith, and she in turn became a model wife and mother of three sons. The nickname Głowacz became the surname "Glowacki". Meanwhile, the innkeeper despaired after his daughter’s disappearance and quickly lost his health. When he died, the inn fell into disrepair, and its long-lasting memento was a small wooden chapel, still existing in the late nineteenth century. Descendants of Dorota and Głowacz remembering their parents’ beautiful stories of the area near the river Dłubnia decided to settle here, thus giving a start to the popularity of the name "Glowacki" in the Zadroże village.

It is not only the Poles that have their legends... Listen to the ones from other countries too.

Ocland lies on the southern border of the so-called Székely Land (Székelyföld), south of the village the historical Saxon land begins. The Székelys themselves are still convinced that they are descendants of king of the Huns - Attila. His younger son Csaba is said to have wandered from Pannonia to Transylvania after the father’s death. According to the local legend, among the ruins of the Kustaly castle near Ocland, there is the grave of Attila’s beloved wife, named Rika or Réka.

How did the name Cserépfalu come to be? From the word cserép. Long ago, when what now is the village area, was covered in dense forest, a certain man was walking there, carrying a double pot. Inside the pot he was carrying a knob of rancid butter, some lard and a savoury pastry, called pogácsa. Suddenly he tripped and fell over, the pot smashed and its contents spilled on the ground. Where the broken pot (Hung. cserép) fell to the ground, Cserépfalu was established. Where the lard dropped (zsír), Zsérc was built. The pogácsa rolled in the direction of what now is Bogácsa and the rancid butter (rossz vaj), where now we have Noszvaj. Hence the names of the four neighbouring villages.

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