Legends and curiosities of Nitra

The headless monk

This is one of the oldest legends here. In the Upper Town of Nitra, locals know and fear the hauntings of a headless monk. Wandering along Castle Street in a Franciscan robe he looks pretty normal, besides the fact he’s missing his head. It is said that in the rare event anyone catches sight of the monk, they shall be stricken by great misfortune, calamity, or natural disasters. With wide, bloodthirsty eyes and a long tail, he appears at midnight in front of the castle, fiercely guarding the entrance.
The reason for the monk’s presence in the city remains a mystery. Allegedly, the monk is the ghost of a Turk who had killed numerous defenders before the castle gate and, as punishment, is doomed to guard it to this very day.

The three sticks of Svätopluk

The famous legend of the Three Sticks of Svätopluk first appeared sometime in the 10th century, in the fairy tales of the enlightened Byzantine Emperor, Constantine Porphyrogenitus. It is written that before his death, the mighty Svätopluk, King of the Great Moravian Empire, called upon his three sons. He gave a stick to each of them, and ordered them to break the sticks. The mighty young men fulfilled the wish of their father with ease.
Then the king ordered the three sticks to be tied and again called upon his sons to break the bundle. This task proved to be much harder. In this manner, the king demonstrated to his successors the need for unity, the only thing that could ensure their invincibility and prosperity for the country.

Corgoň

In the Upper Town of Nitra lived Corgoň, a blacksmith of immense strength, whose brawny figure and muscular arms went admired by everyone. Just one hit of the anvil with his hammer would send the entire upper town shaking.
Once, as the castle was ruthlessly besieged by the Turks who were about to climb over the walls, Corgoň came to the rescue, and started rolling huge stones down on the Turks, wreaking havoc very quickly. But even more terrifying than the rocks falling upon them, was the monumental figure of Corgoň and his menacing face, blackened with coal.
According to the legend this was how the Upper Town managed to fight back the first Turkish attack. The statue of Corgoň immortalizes the legendary strength of the Upper Town blacksmith, representing him as Atlas, the titan of Greek mythology, supporting the weight of a whole building on his shoulder.
In Nitra, a saying still lives on: "as strong as Corgoň". The legend says he lived 180 years, and touching the big toe of his statue will allegedly make your wish come true.

A plague of locusts

From time to time, the otherwise peaceful life in 18th century Nitra was disturbed by some catastrophe. Chronicles recorded that in August 1747, swarms of hungry locusts appeared in the vicinity of the town, destroying all the crops.
This natural phenomenon happened again the next summer, but the people scared the locusts away with screaming and drumming, not allowing them to settle. Where they did manage to settle, the layer of locusts was one meter high.
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