Warsaw - Official Tourist Portal of the Capital City of Warsaw - Home Page
Award: European Best Destination 2023

Legend of the Golden Duck

Once upon a time, in the dungeons of the Ostrogski Castle, there lived a princess who had been bewitched into a golden duck by a magic spell. It was said that whoever finds her would become rich. Many adventurers tried.

This story was also heard by a young, poor shoemaker, Lutek, and he thought: “It can do no harm to try.”
So he went to the castle dungeon on Midsummer’s night. His luck was in and he found the golden duck that promised him wealth. The boy received a pouch of gold ducats, but also one condition: he had to spend them in one day, with no one sharing. If he succeeds he will become a great rich man. The boy was pleased, because what problem could it be for a poor boy to spend so much money on himself?

He eagerly faced the challenge. First, he bought a beautiful suit of clothes, a hat and a cane so that he looked like a dignified gentleman. Then he went to the inn, and ate and drank as much as he could. He drove a carriage drawn by four horses to Wilanów.

It was noon, and Lutek had only spent 5 ducats. He returned to the city and saw a poster for the National Theatre poster – a great idea! He had never been in a theatre. He bought the most expensive ticket, spending half a ducat. 

The evening was approaching, and the shoemaker did not know what to do with the money. He goes for a walk to think about it. His full purse is weighing him down when suddenly he sees a war veteran with no legs begging on the corner. “Lord,” he says “I have eaten nothing for two days, I have survived many wars, I have received medals, but since I lost my leg I have nothing to live for.” Lutek took pity on the former soldier, reached into his pocket and gave the old man a handful of golden ducats.

At the very same moment there was a great crash of thunder. The princess stood in front of the shoemaker: “you did not keep your word,” she said and disappeared. Suddenly the boy lost everything he had bought. He was dressed in rags again and had empty pockets.
“It’s not wealth, not ducats, that make you happy. Only honest work, health and a good heart. Remember that, boy,” said the old soldier.

Lutek returned home. He was not angry or disappointed, in fact he felt rather relieved and happy.
Soon the fate of the poor shoemaker changed. He started to learn as never before, he became a master shoemaker and he married a beautiful girl. He lived for many years in good health and happiness, and the sound of the gold duck disappeared forever.