How the Krakonoš appeared in the Krkonoše mountins (The Giant Mountains)

Each mountain has its spirit, elf or fairy, simply its symbol. Some are long-lived and their appearance and nature have changed as people's attitudes to the mountains have changed. At the times they were afraid of natural phenomena, they attributed them to evil spirits. With knowledge, their fear subsided, and the spirits took on friendlier face. These days we perceive them as nice and protective.

Trutnov, Krakonoš

The Giant Mountains have their own giant called Krakonoš. Its history is long and certainly dates back before the 16th century. Nevertheless, even today, in the age of television and the immense popularity of Maria Kubátová's fairy tales, Krakonoš is not fully known to everyone. So those who want to know something about him can read on. We offer several questions and answers.

Who is Krakonoš?

Krakonoš is a character known as the ruler, protector, or mythical spirit of our mountains, who protects the entire mountain region of Krkonoše from poachers, treasure hunters and other villains who want to harm the mountains in any way with their ill intentions.

However, he did not receive the name Krakonoš until 1824, when V. K. Klicpera gave him the name in his ballad Krkonošská kleč.

What did they call him before?

Rýbrcoul, Rübezahl, Liczyrzepa (translated into Czech the one who counts the sugar-beets). Also Mr. Johanes, Mr. Jan or Rzepiór and a many other names.

Is he kind or evil?

Today we know him as the gentle ruler of the mountains, who protects the wronged, defends justice, helps the poor and dispels evil disease. But it hasn´t always been like that. Sometimes he was moody, sometimes he made fun of people, other times punished them unjustly, and even killed them.

When did he appear?

Krakonoš has been well known for over 400 years. The first clear mention and at the same time the first depiction appeared in 1561. At that time, the Wroclaw cartographer Martin Helwig published a map of Silesia and placed Krakonoš to the Giant Mountains as the only inhabitant. It is depicted here in the form of a heraldic creature with goat legs, deer antlers, a strongly forked tail and a long mountain wooden stick (You can find his image at the exit roundabout from Trutnov towards the mountains)

How does he appear?

In all types of form. Today he appears as a tall stocky man in a long cloak with a massive beard and a cane in his hand. He used to take on various forms, such as a poor student, a traveller, a midget or a golden-haired little boy, but also an unhappy stray donkey, a grazing cow or a fearless hare. But he could also appear in other even haunting forms as a wizard and sorcerer, apparently, he is able to take on any face.

Why Rýbrcoul (Rübezhl, Liczyrzepa)?

Řepočet, the one who counts the sugar-beets.

Probably according to one of the many stories.

In times long past, the Spirit of the Mountains once again ascended to the surface of the earth, and in his quest to know people's lives, he fell deeply and unhappily in love with a beautiful princess. Used to having everything he wanted, he kidnapped the princess to his beautiful underground mansion. It was beautiful, but the princess didn't have any of her companions there, so she mourned. To cheer her up, the lord of the mountains gave her a magic wand and a field full of beets. With her wand, the princess transformed beets into her loved ones. Yet she longed for freedom. She longed especially after the young prince she fell in love with. So, she came up with a plan. She promised the lord of the mountains that she would become his wife and sent him to count all the beets in the field as proof of his love, because apparently, she wanted to turn the beets into wedding guests. The lord of the mountains counted and counted, but he always came up with a wrong number. Meanwhile, the princess turned one beet into a strong horse which took the princess beyond the boundaries of the mountain spirit. The princess and the prince got together, and the lord of the mountains was left behind with the name Beet counter, Rübezahl, Rýbrcoul, Liczyrzepa. (German Rübe = beet, zahlen = count) (Originally from the Jaromír Jech´s book called Krakonoš).

Where can you meet?

In the Giant Mountains you can meet Krakonoš at almost every step and also in many fairy tales and stories.

There is perhaps no town or village in the Krkonoše Mountains where the character wouldn ´t be mentioned. You will find it in statues, exhibitions, many walks and wanderings, it descends from the mountains for different festivities, even a local beer and the town square are named after him.