The palace where the devil himself dances

Krakow is a beautiful yet mysterious city. Anyone who has had the opportunity to explore its narrow, charming streets in the evening knows this. The dim light of the street lamps casts long shadows, among which mythical figures from beliefs and legends seem to hide. The famous Pod Krzysztofory palace, located near Krakow's market square, could be considered the epicenter of unexplained phenomena for over four hundred years, a source of legends and unsettling tales circulating in Krakow's taverns. How much truth is in them, and how much is empty talk? Let's find out today!

From the history of a certain tenement...

Our adventure begins at the corner of the Main Square and Szczepańska Street. It is there that a grand and gossip-inducing building stands. Today, you will find the headquarters of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków, but its past is much more complex and enigmatic.

The very name of the Pod Krzysztofory Palace derives, remarkably interestingly and somewhat amusingly, from a time when the entire structure was far from being a palace and was simply a corner tenement, like many others around the Kraków market square. However, this building stood out because a statue of St. Christopher was placed on its facade, who, perhaps unintentionally, also became the godfather of the entire tenement.

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In the 16th century, there was a pharmacy located there. And it is most likely that the source of the first mentions of unexplained phenomena and mysterious figures associated with this building lies. Medieval and early modern pharmacies were completely different places from those we associate with contemporary times. In those days, magic and pharmacology constantly intertwined, and the boundaries between them were fluid and variable. It is no wonder, then, that the renowned Master Twardowski himself had visited this tenement, arguably the most mysterious figure during the last days of the Jagiellonian dynasty.

The Sorcerer's Treasure

As the tale goes, the renowned Twardowski hid an enchanted treasure in the underground chambers of the tenement, with the devil himself guarding it. As it is known, nothing arouses human curiosity quite like a hidden treasure, so there was no shortage of daredevils who ventured into the underground passages of Kraków in search of the sorcerer's gold.

Many attempted, but it was only an unassuming cook, who managed to reach the secret riches. She was led to it by a black rooster that she had intended to use for soup. However, the rooster broke free from her grasp and disappeared into the underground chambers of the tenement. Imagine her surprise when, instead of poultry, she encountered... the devil himself! The black rooster was, in fact, a demon who, for reasons unknown, had assumed its form and, in exchange for a promise of sparing her life, offered the woman as much gold from the sorcerer's treasure as she could carry. However, he set one condition: the cook, upon leaving the underground, must not look back. Failure to comply with this restriction would result in the entire fortune being instantly turned into rubbish. 

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As usual, vain curiosity stood in the way of human happiness, for the cook, heedless of the devil's warning, turned around at a certain moment, and in the blink of an eye, all the treasures transformed into garbage.

The Black Lady

Another legend associated with the Pod Krzysztofory Palace is the dark tale of the Black Lady, who has been haunting the Kraków tenement for over four hundred years. It is said that she is the widow of Sebastian Lubomirski, Anna z Branickich. After her husband's death, the woman was said to have lived in the palace until her mysterious and violent demise.

The Black Lady is believed to be a harbinger of death. Her most famous victim is said to be King Jan Kazimierz, who resided in the tenement after his abdication. There is also a popular story about a foreign officer who encountered a terrifying apparition and, in a panic, fled to the Dominican church, where he immediately began investigating the mysterious phenomenon he had the misfortune of encountering. It is said that it was at his request that Anna z Branickich's coffin was opened. The officer, upon seeing the earthly remains of the woman, reportedly swore that the Black Lady was dressed exactly in the same gown.

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Laughs and Shivers?

People tell tales of shadows and specters wandering the corridors of the Pod Krzysztofory Palace. Some have seen the Black Lady, while others have witnessed a demonic rooster with fiery red eyes. There are stories of demons and witches dancing above the roof of the tenement, and of Twardowski himself weaving spells in the underground complex. How much truth is in these stories? Judge for yourselves by embarking on one of our tours, exploring the mysteries of Kraków (link below). The palace, however, remains open to you today, now serving the esteemed function of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków.

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