Legends of Slovakia
It’s not surprising that given its landscape and historical past, countless Slovak legends based on captivating figures arose. Slovakia’s many gothic churches, medieval towns, torture recordings, looming mountains and castles serve as open invitations to the stretches of imagination. But then again, the best legends rely on a least some smidgeon of truth. Here are some prominent historical figures to give rise to the stuff of legends.
Known to many as the “Blood Countess,” Elizabeth Bathory was the daughter of powerful Hungarian aristocrats. Related to warlords, clerics, bishops, she enjoyed nearly absolute power. In her castle of Cachtice, she exercised that power with a sadistic zealousness that eventually garnered her reputation of being the world’s first female mass murderer. Legend has it that, upon accidentally discovering the youthful effect of blood on the skin, she took to bathing in the blood of young women.
The White Lady of Levoca
Slovakia has three White Ladies; one from Bratislava, one fron Bojnice Castle, and another from Levoca. The one from Levoca is based on Julia Korponayova, who, when spying for the Hapsburg emperor in Levoca, a town which was presently besieged by the Hapsburg army outside its walls, became the lover of the rebel Hungarian baron. During the night, she stole his keys, and let the army in, leading to the fall of the town. This didn’t stop her from meeting an unfortunate end, however.
Considered the Slovak Robin Hood for reputedly stealing from the rich to give to the poor, Janosik is a beloved figure in Slovak folk art. He gave rise to many legends, myths, and is a constant mainstay of Slovak literature. Noted for his bravery as a soldier and as a symbol of resistence, Janosik is equally esteemed by Poles; but Janosik’s origins lies in Terchova – a town in Northern Slovakia. Legends surrounding him run aplenty, involving his faultless character as an outlaw with a purpose. One of the better known one is Janosik’s Fist, involving his punishment of an arrogant tyrant on a boulder.
After King Philip of Spis Castle killed the son of a Polish monarch, legend has it that the Polish king sought revenge by killing King Philip's daughter Barbora. While Barbora and her sister Hedviga were alone in the castle, the Polish king seized the castle. Hedviga, believing her sister to be dead, jumped from the castle’s highest tower. After she jumped, a mysterious face appeared on a wall of the castle that is said to bear a striking resemblance to Hedviga.
Other legends include:
- The Virgin Tower, featuring about a certain knight, Nicolas, whose bride met her tragic end from a tower in the Devin Castle.
- Three Twigs of King Spatopluk, about the Great Moravia king’s lesson of strength through unity.
- The Well of Love, involving a Turkish noble reclaiming his love by digging a well for years until it reached water, and how his efforts were rewarded.
- Bratislava Castle, relating to curious facts about why the castle has such curious characteristics.