The Carpathian Mountains have been a cultural melting pot for ages and therefore the Carpathian folk culture came to life and has been the origin of legends and stories whose echo still sounds to this day. Many Carpathian legends refer to bandits who are very often extremely powerful, dexterous and handsome. In one story they can jump over river beds – leaving footprints in rock, whereas in another they build a church to thank for saving the lives of their beloved frajerki – as their lovers used to be called. The most famous bandit was known as Janosik. Saint Kinga and Brother Cyprian are equally famous in the Carpathian legends. The monk wanted, against the will of God, to rise high above the highest peaks of the Pieniny Mountain Range. There are also numerous anonymous characters. The story of sleeping knights of Jadwiga or Bolesław Chrobry is yet another example of Carpathian legends.
The theme of sleeping knights introduces another popular category of Carpathian stories which depict the local picturesque landscapes. Mountains, peaks, raging rivers of the Carpathian Mountains and castles constitute a common background and scenery of the legendary stories. Immersed in deep sleep, the knights are waiting at the Giewont or Babia Góra foothills for a signal to defend Poland. Other legends are stories of remote past explaining the origins of the Dunajec River whose bed was sculptured among mountains and valleys by the snake king crawling away from his legendary archenemy; or the Podhale region where the beatified Kinga, running away from a Tatar horde, throws her crown over her shoulder, therefore blocking the incoming chase.
Many Carpathian legends have been part of the folk culture since the middle 19th century. However, some of them were written later. The folk art and tourism, which has been developing in different regions of the Carpathian Mountains, have acted for the past decades as the catalyst for the legends. Local guides preserve the old tradition and local folk customs by telling the stories to tourists.