"I will give you silver, gold, jewellery, precious Persian carpets...anything you desire," pleaded Omar, "only set my Fatima free!" "Everything you offer, we have already," sneered Štefan Zapoľa, the cruel Lord of Trenč'n castle. "And what does Your Highness not possess?" asked Omar.
"Water. Ordinary water," replied the Lord of the castle. "If you can find a plentiful source of water below this barren rock, your beautiful Fatima will be set free, and you will be given leave to return with her to your land." "I see that your heart is as hard as the rock on which your proud castle stands," said Omar quietly. "But I vow to show you that even this rock will yield to the power of love."
Day and night thereafter, the constant impact of hammer and chisel clove the air. The Turks labored mightily on Trenčín's rock. They worked in six-hour shifts, day and night. No man rested. And Omar himself worked like a man possessed, wielding the massive tools for long stretches of time, his strength never flagging.
But the work was torture for Omar. His hands were those of a nobleman, soft and delicate, used more to the pen than to the sword. But neither rain nor snow, nor even the cold ice of winter kept Omar from his labor. Rock chips bloodied his face: Omar smiled grimly through his cuts.
Calluses roughened his palms: Omar gripped his hammer still tighter. Breath grew short and difficult: Omar saw stars in the bowels of the earth. For Fatima, the beautiful captive daughter of the Turkish Pasha Selim, the brutal hammering was as charming music, with each blow bringing her closer to her love Omar.
Days turned into months, months into years. After three long years of battle with the rock, they had reached the level of the Vah River. Omar's friends had long since lost hope of striking water, but Omar nursed his faith, vowing to pull out every last rock himself in order to free his Fatima. And one day...his faith was rewarded. In the faint glow of his miner's lamp, he saw that a stone he had just loosened was moist. "Water! Water! I found a source!" He pulled at the stone and, to his astonishment, a thin stream of water coursed down the rocky wall. Omar stood in the dark with his friends, not daring to believe until their feet were soaked with cold, fresh water.
Mugs brimming with the precious fluid were passed from hand to delighted hand among the castle inhabitants. But perhaps the widest smile wreathed the cruel lips of Zapoľa.
For him, the well meant far more than just a source of water - it meant that his castle was now an impregnable fortress. In years past, the castle had always been vulnerable to siege, and its inhabitants to death by thirst. But now, with the well! Let my enemies come, smirked the ruler.
"You, Omar, have bestowed on me a most precious gift," said Zapoľa. "It cannot be repaid with all the gold in the world. I bow to you, in token of my respect for your perseverance, and I reward your efforts with the gift that is most precious to you." He clapped his hands, a door opened and Fatima appeared, smiling through her tears in a snow-white dress. Omar knelt at her feet, kissed her hand gently and looked into her shining eyes. "My dearest dove, the brightest star of my endless nights in the rocky depths, and the risen sun of all my future days. You are mine forever and we are free."
Omar's "well of love" has stood in the courtyard of Trenč'n castle for five centuries, in silent testimony to the truth of this story. All year round, couples in love come hand in hand to toss a coin down the 80 metre deep well for luck. And on the faces of young girls peering into the well can oft be read a silent question - "what would my man do for the sake of his love?"
S&S Travel Tips
Trenčín Information Service- Šturovo námestie 10, 083/301-40. Open Mon-Fri 8-18, Sat 8-13.
The Castle- 0831/356-57. Open Oct. -March 9-16.
The Trenčín Museum- Mierové nám. 46, 0831/355-89. Open Tue. - Sun. 9-14.
The M.A. Bazovský Gallery- Mierové nám. 7, 0831/340-67. Open Tue. - Sun. 9-17.
Hotel TATRA- Trencin, ul. gen. M.R. Stefanika, tel. 0831/ 506 111,506 102 Historic 70 room hotel built in 1901, located in the center of the city at the base of the castle. Painstakenly restored to its original condition.
The Hotel offers: Slovak and international cuisine specialities at the Restaurant TATRA, entertainment with music in the Winecellar VICTORIA, pleasant atmosphere in the Cafe SISSI, a choice of famous crystal glass in its own boutique.
Prices: double room 1 300 Sk for Slovaks, 2 200 Sk for foreigners, a suite 1600 for Slovaks, 3 200 for foreigners. Kids up to 12 years free. Breakfast included.
Hotel Laugaricio, the other main hotel, is closed for reconstruction.
6. Nov 1997 at 0:00 | Ľubica Sokolíková