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 Lajkonik parade
Every Thursday, 8 days after Corpus Christi day starts the Lajkonik parade. This colourful pageant refers to the tragic moments in the history of Krakow that goes back to the XIII century.

european institute of cultural routes
Magdalena Wojcik
04 July 2006

At that time the city was attacked several times by Tartar, nomadic people from Mongolia. Those warriors wearing leather, mounting a small, thickset horse were attacking Malopolska region since 1241 and stroke a terror into polish people hearts.

As the legend says, during one nights in June 1287, they were able to come closer to the Krakow walls, unnoticed by the city guards. However they decided to stay overnight in suburban village Zwierzyniec (today district of Krakow) where they fell asleep without fearing a danger. Their presence was noticed by the Vistula sailors and the Tartar enemy was defeated by the brave sailors. The sailors who daily were responsible for supervising the wood floating on the Vistula river, decided to make a joke to the dwellers of Krakow: they entered to the city in Tartar disguise riding their horses. The joke soon was discovered and the mayor of the city proclaimed to organise annually a celebration related to this event.


Nowadays celebrations contains of a procession which generally finish at 6pm in front of the Old Tower Hall at the Main Market Square. The main hero of this event is called Lajkonik: a man dressed in a Tarter disguise , ridding a hobby horse. The whole procession is accompanied by a musical group "Mlaskoty". Lajkonik fallows the street of Kościuszki, Zwierzyniecka, Franciszkańska and Grodzka, ending at the Market square. On the way he enters to the nearby shops, bars and offices extorting protection money. The same happens to the passers-by , if they pay tribute, Lajkonik hits them with his baton what, as a tradition says, brings a luck. The most beautiful dance Lajkonik presents in front of Philharmonic. The ceremony is usually finished with a dinner at Hawelka restaurant.

In the XIX century the members of the procession were wearing cloths collected by themselves. The whole outfit weighs about 30 kg. In 1904 Stanisław Wyspiański designed the clothes for Lajkonik and in 1997 new one were created by Krystyna Zachwatowicz.

Nowadays the original clothes of Lajkonik and his escort are collected in the Museum of History of the City of Krakow which is the organisers of Lajkonik parade.

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