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The spring with enchanted water

No tourist route would be complete without the presence of a place to sit, take some rest and drink pure, fresh and refreshing spring water. Being in full communion with nature, you will feel that the water you drink straight after its emergence from the mountain gives you new powers. And, all of a sudden, that water quenches not only your thirst, but also your soul’s desire for regeneration, quiet, and purity. Because pure water not only nourishes the body, but also the soul, and the spring becomes a place of peace and light, an oasis for the agitated individual of our ages. Popular beliefs with regard to the sacred value of water have always existed. It thus goes without saying that, ever since their arrival, the Slovaks chose their house site depending on the existence of a spring in the area. On mountainous territory, almost entirely covered in forests, springs were much more frequent than nowadays. Every family needed a water source. Water was the source of life, because it ensured life and health for humans and animals. With this water the dough was kneaded from which bread was baked, with spring or well water the girls were sprinkled on Easter Monday. Therefore, water not only had a household use, but also magic properties, symbolizing the origin of life, a means of purification, and a source of regeneration. The Huta Slavia spring lies in the middle of an almost wild forest. The smooth sound of water, the cool shade and the whistling of the wind through the trees invite you to stop over for a while in this place. However, beyond the apparent silence that it surrounds you with, the forest can also become a space of the unknown, of dread, of spells, of fear. In Slovak folk culture, the forest is a fantastic place, where all sorts of phantasmagorical things happen. Based on these occurrences and the popular imaginative capacity, a plethora of stories and tales resulted, that transport us to a fairytale land. One of the local Slovak folk tales, known and transmitted down through generations, is the tale „Zakliata hora” (The Cursed Forest), which was recounted by grandparents to grandchildren and was a literary work taught even in the Slovak-taught schools in Romania. The tale „Zakliata hora” (The Cursed Forest) tells the story of a fictional world in which supernatural beings live and activate, such as the „drak” or „šarkan” (dragon under the form of a many-headed bat-winged serpent, which blows fire through its mouth and has poisonous blood), striga (witch) and ”animals”, which were actuallycursed lads.


We invite you to read this story right here, next to the spring, while you stop for a break on your trail.

Zakliata hora (The Cursed Forest) - Slovak folk tale -

Once upon a time there was a little house where a poor widow lived with her two sons. The sons resembled each other so much, that even their mother found it difficult to differentiate them.

As the boys grew older, they started working to bring a minimum income to the household. When they saw others going out in the world in search for better earnings, they too began to think about leaving. Their mother agreed to that, just hoping that nothing bad would happen to them. The sons started preparing for their departure, went to the forest and cut enough wood for 3 years, during which time they’d be away from home. Before their departure, their mother asked them to go hunting in the forest, to bring something to eat for her to pack for them. The lads roamed the woods, from morning till night, and found no trace of animals. Upon their return home, they were met by a pack of hungry wolves. They threw them a piece of fat bacon and bread, and the wolves joined them. The next day, at the crack of dawn, they went hunting again, but this time they didn’t manage to hunt anything either. Upon their return home, they saw two bears fighting each other. They threw them a piece of salo and bread. The bears stopped fighting, joined the lads and followed them home. Nor the third day did they hunt anything. Only two lions fighting each other; they calmed them down and brought them home.

Seeing that they couldn’t hunt anything, they filled their bags, bid their mother farewell, took the animals and hit the road. They traveled together for three days and three nights, until reaching a crossroads with a tall linden. The older brother told the younger one that it was time to part ways, one should head on one path, and the other one on the other path. They agreed to carve their names on the tree bark and to stick a knife in the trunk. If blood came out, it meant the other was alive, but if water came out, it meant he was dead. Said and done: they carved their names, sticked their knives and walked further, each on their own path.

The older brother arrives at a settlement surrounded by black cloth. Here lied the well from which the locals drank water, and which was guarded by a twelve-headed dragon. To be able to drink water from the well, the inhabitants had to bring a girl in exchange, otherwise they could not gain access to the well. When the king’s daughter’s turn came, he ordered the settlement be surrounded by black cloth and announced that he would give his daughter and half of the kingdom to the one who managed to kill the dragon. The lad decided to kill the dragon and set the beautiful young lady free. He went to the castle together with his animals and demanded they be well fed and that he got a sharp sword. He then set off together with the king’s daughter. He brought her to the well to lure the dragon. In the moment when he pulled his head out, the lad cut it. The dragon screamed in pain and took out the other 11 heads from which he blew immense flames. The animals also rushed to the lad’s defense. This way, he managed to cut off all the heads, from which he chopped off the tongues and put them in his bag. At night, after everyone was asleep, the coachman cut the boy’s head and forced the princess to swear she would not divulge to anyone anything that happened. The coachman took the dragon heads and ran with them to the king, confessing that he had killed the dragon.

When the other animals woke up and saw their master dead, they started crying their eyes out. The bear brought from the snake a piece of greenery that he wiped his neck with three times, and when he put his head back, he healed. The lad woke up, took his animals with him and walked further.

One month later, he returns to the settlement, where he notices that the black cloth had been removed. Here he found out that the coachman had killed the dragon and that the next day he was to marry the princess. The lad became upset and set off, together with his animals, for the kingdom. When she saw him, the princess ran into his arms. The king and the other guests were watching in bewilderment, and the coachman was shaking like a trembling poplar. After the king’s daughter confessed everything, the lad took out the dragon tongues from his bag to prove that what she was saying was true, and the king gave him his daughter along with half the kingdom.

One morning, the boy noticed on one side a yellowed forest. He found out that it was the cursed forest and that those who entered it never returned. One day, he told his wife that he was going hunting. He took his animals with him and left. He had barely arrived at the back of the garden, when a fox jumped in front of him. He followed it but could not spot it. The fox was luring him deeper and deeper into the forest. All of a sudden, the fox disappeared, and our lad realized he found himself in a thick and very dark forest. He sat down next to an oak and, because he was hungry, he lit a fire and started frying some salo. At some point, the heard a voice coming from the tree that was shouting “I’m cold, I’m cold”. He looked up to the tree and saw a curled up old lady perched there. He told her to come down next to the fire if she was cold. It got quiet, but then she started screaming again “I’m cold, I’m cold”. The boy told her once again to come down and warm up if she was cold. Again, no answer. When she screamed for the first time, the boy, already angry, bluntly told her to either come down and warm up or to shut up. The old lady answered that she would come down, but she was afraid of the animals and asked if she could hit them with a rod to ward them off. The young king agreed, the old lady descended from the tree, hit the animals, ran to get a frog and started spinning it around the fire. At a certain point, she started saying: “You fry fat bacon, I fry frog. I will eat fat bacon, and you will eat frog”. After repeating this several times, the boy got angry and set the animals against her, but they didn’t react, because the animals had been turned into stone by the stroke of the rod. He turns towards them, but at that moment, the old lady hit him with the rod, turning him into stone too. She then grabbed him and threw him in a pit.

The younger son was returning home when he reached the crossroads. The moment when he pulled out the knife from the tree, water started pouring from it on one side, and blood on the other. Puzzled and worried, he set out to find his older brother. He roamed the forests and plains and reached his brother’s kingdom. He stopped by at the same tavern that his brother had stopped at when arriving here. The tavern keeper noticed the striking resemblance with his brother and recounted him his acts of courage and that one day he disappeared without a trace. The lad thanked the tavern keeper and set off with his animals for the kingdom, where he was received by the king with open arms. Next morning, at the crack of dawn, he noticed the sad forest, about which he learned is cursed. Right away, he realized that his brother could only be there and that something bad had happened to him. He set out to find him. He was met by the same fox that lured him to the tree at which his brother had stopped too. He lit the fire and started frying fat bacon. The animals sat down on the side and started licking the petrified animals. At some point, the heard a voice coming from the tree that was shouting “I’m cold, I’m cold”. He told her to come down next to the fire if she was cold. The old lady answered that she would come down, but she was afraid of the animals and asked if she could hit them with a rod to ward them off. The boy sees the petrified animals and realizes she was trying to fool him. He answers that the rod wouldn’t help her but would only anger the animals and they would swoop on her. She should give him the rod and he would ward them off with it. The old lady gives him the stick, but the boy doesn’t hit the animals, but rather the ground, and the old lady descends from the tree. At a certain point, she starts saying: “You fry fat bacon, I fry frog. I will eat fat bacon, and you will eat frog”. The boy gets scared and immediately pits the animals against her. The lad tells her to resurrect the animals, and that only then would he set her free. She gives him her boots and tells him that in the tree she has a golden rod for him to climb after.


The boy hits the animals with the golden rod, and they immediately come back to life. He pits off the other animals against her as well, and tells her she wouldn’t set her free until she let him know where his brother was. The old lady was dying of pain, so she told him about the pit where his brother was and asked him to rub him with an ointment that she would give him. Said and done, his brother was brought back to life. Our boy took the rod and hit the old lady, who immediately turned to stone. At that moment, the entire forest lit up and turned green. The six animals of the boys turned into lads, hugged each other and rejoiced being set free. They were looking around them and could not believe their eyes. One of the boys confessed that they were all brothers from the royal family, but they were always arguing with each other. This is why they were cursed to fight each other like wolves, bears and lions, until two innocent brothers would tame them and teach one another how to do good. And now they gave them the entire kingdom and confessed that they wanted to live on together.

They returned to the royal palace, where they made a great feast. Shortly after, the sons brought their mother and they all lived happily ever after.


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