5 Myths and Legends in Europe…
We all love a good tale and so Jangira Lewis delves into 5 of Europe’s interesting myths and legends…
1. Loch Ness Monster
The tale of the Loch Ness Monster is one that haunts the Scottish Highlands. Dinosaur-esque and large in size, the legend of Nessie dates back to celtic times. With abilities to shapeshift into the form of a beautiful man or woman, this monster is allegedly ready to jump out at unsuspecting travellers and drag them to their death in the depth of the loch. The first recorded sighting was 1,500 year ago, when allegedly the powerful beast leaped out of the lake and devoured a local farmer.
Although the legend of Nessie is deemed an old wives tale, exhibits around the loch are teeming with famous exploration data and research equipment to help solve this ancient mystery. Just 37 kilometres southwest of Inverness, visiting the stunning Loch Ness and immersing yourself into this mystery is a ‘must-do’. Known as one of the natural wonders of the world, Loch Ness is bursting with history and legends. Visit the Wellington Bomber that crash-landed on the loch on NYE 1940, or board the Deepscan cruise vessel and observe Urquhart Castle in all its beauty. But careful – be sure to keep your wits about you!
2. Kerkyra (Corfu) and Athena (Athens)
Deriving from the goddess of wisdom, Athena was the honoured patron goddess of the city of Athens, winning the title by presenting the Athenian Gods with a simple olive tree – a symbol of prosperity and peace. Athens is home to an abundance of alluring temples and archaic ruins, all waiting to be explored. Begin your spiritual journey by visiting the Temple of Athena Nike, or losing yourself in the ancient ruins of the Theatre of Dionysus.
Corfu’s name derived from Kerkyra, a beauteous and bewitching nymph who received the love from Poseidon (God of the sea). Taken to a beautiful uninhabited island, the land was blessed with her habitation and name. The island of Corfu has a multi-cultural heritage enshrined in the varieties of architecture inspired by beautiful cities around the world. The Liston in Corfu town is besieged with an urbane buzz, lavished with vaulted galleries, antique archways and eerie hanging lanterns.
Stay at: The Pink Palace
3. The Origins of Barcelona
The love story of Hercules and Pyrene is a tale whispered through the gothic architecture that shapes our beautiful Barcelona. On a search for the missing ninth ship in their fleet, Hercules and his crew fell in love with the city, and named it Barca (boat) and Nona (ninth), Barcanona. Two lovers united for a short period of time, Hercules and Pyrene is a story of two soulmates finding each other, but unable to stay due to the separate journeys fate had in store for them. Pyrene inspired the name of the stunning Pyrenees mountains in southwest Europe that forms a border between France and Spain.
Pay a visit to the Gothic Quarters which encompass the oldest parts of the city, amidst remains of medieval landmarks and the city’s notable Roman wall. Explore Mount Taber, the historic heart of Catalonia and gaze upon the remains of the Roman Temple of Augustus. Or stroll down the quiet street of Carrer Hercules running along Placa Sant and observe the gothic water fountain found in the square that dates back to the fourteenth century.
Stay at: St Christopher’s Inn, Barcelona
4. Robin Hood and his Merry-Men
Robin Hood is a beloved figure in English folklore and was the inspiration behind many ballads composed in the 15th century. The dashing outlaw, skilled in archery and adept in sword-fighting, was said to steal from the rich and give to the poor, with the help of his Merry-men in tow. Although it is said to be false that he robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, Robin Hood was viewed as the figure that stood up for the downtrodden in a time where a tyrannical monarch reined over the country. The story of Robin Hood is story of anger and pride. The story of a figure that stood up for the working class, and made a strong stand against any injustices that occured.
The statue of Robin Hood proudly stands beneath Nottingham castle and has graced the covers of newspapers and magazines all over the world, and is an attraction that one must experience when visiting the vibrant city of Nottingham. Surrounded by a plethora of prudent pubs and breath-taking scenery, the iconic statute of Robin Hood is something to be ticked off that bucket list.
Stay at: The Igloo Hybrid
5. Danish folklore and the Christmas Nisse
Tales of trolls, fairies and elves are consistent within Danish folklore and any other Scandinavian myths. These folktales have had a huge significance on Danish culture. A little cheeky Christmas elf, known as the Nisse, that guards animals and plays tricks on children, is a character portrayed in all of Danish Christmas traditions. This mischievous gnome is said to inhabit the lofts of old farmhouses, embellished in a red bonnet, red stockings and white clogs. Rice or porridge is left for him on Christmas Eve by Danish families, in hopes that he will play nicely this year.
Copenhagen, an authentic Christmas city teeming with magical Christmas markets, has the power to entice its visitors into an enchanted Christmas wonderland. Illuminated with dazzling Christmas lights and lustrous white snow, this city is enough to bring back those vivid memories of Christmas nostalgia embedded in your earliest childhood memories. With air pungent with sugar-roasted almonds and fresh pine, the cobbled streets of Nyhavn and the vivid scenes of Tivoli Gardens’ Christmas Market are sure to charm every traveller with its idyllic bustling character.
Stay at: The Downtown Copenhagen Hostel