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  3. Myths and legends
  4. The nightingale of Mt. Langkofel

The nightingale of Mt. Langkofel

Once upon a time at the foot of Mt. Langkofel in the Dolomites there was a magnificent castle, home of a beautiful king’s daughter. One day she saved a nightingale from a bad goshawk.

In return for rescue the birdie - that wondrously was able to speak like a human - made her a present: “Whenever you want to, you can turn into a nightingale. This talent will disappear only after a case of death.” The princess wanted to answer, but the nightingale flew away.

However she immediately wanted to test her new ability and lo and behold, shortly after she flew around as a nightingale, delighted the people with her gorgeous chant and listened to the stories told by other birds.

Visit to the lonely knight

In this way she heard some ravens taking about a lonesome young knight that was living in a castle ruin beyond the mountains of Gröden. The princess in the shape of the nightingale was curious and finally she found the castle and its resident, who seemed to be very sad. She alighted on a nearby tree, started to lilt and the cavalier was very taken with her chant.

Some days after the knight sought out an old Salwan, a wise cave man of the Dolomites and told him his agony: “I’m so sad. Nothing makes me happy, not even the chase. Only the nightingale’s chant cheers me up. But if it flies away, I’m as sad as I was before.”

The Salwan explained him that he probably was bewitched by a woman. The chevalier didn’t understand, because he had never set eyes on a woman and so he was even more distressed. As the nightingale visited him for the next time he shouted at it: “The Salwan is right: You are a woman!”

The prophecy comes true

The knight immediately repented his anger, but it was too late: The princess in plumage had flown away – and nor she returned the following days. So the desperate man abandoned the world more and more. In the end the nightingale came back to the castle, but the knight was dead.

The king’s daughter was shocked and sensed her joint guilt of the knight’s death. As she vainly tried to retransform into her human form, the nightingale’s prophecy crossed her mind. It was true. Henceforth the princess had to live as a nightingale in the forest.  

In the mountains of Gröden you may still hear a nightingale singing more beautiful than all other birds. This is the bewitched princess!

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