Europe is full of legends, starting with its own name, borrowed from Princess Europa, mistress of Zeus and mother of Minos. There are many legends of Europe, and each country has its own mystical stories. So, for each European country we offer, we’ve selected the one we think is the best, or at least the most surprising! Discover International Horizons’ 20 European internship destinations from another point of view, through their legends.

Germany: The Pied Piper of Hamelin

That’s one creepy mother. We’re off to a great start! If you’re thinking of going to Germany for an internship, you can discover some of the legends of this great country through the various counts of the Grimm brothers, who transcribed some of them, but some in a rather soft way. In 1284, a flute-player in the streets of Hamelin lured 130 children into playing, but no one ever saw them again. This dated legend went on to inspire legal paedophile rings: don’t you think it could be true? I invite you to read the article here or the book ” The passenger with no face ” by Nicolas Beuglet: it’s nauseating. And if you’re too lazy to read, here’s a short summary: there was a programme in Germany that consisted of placing children in foster homes with notorious paedophiles, to make sure they were loved: I’ll let you find out the rest. Infamous.

Bulgaria: Baba Vanga

Baba Vanga is the Nostradamus of Eastern Europe; she died at the end of the 90s and was even asked by politicians to make predictions. Long before these events, she had accurately predicted the election of an African-American president in the United States, the attacks of 11 September and the great droughts of 2022. Of course, she has a margin of error, and these predictions were passed on orally, so some may have been distorted. However, according to her, in 2023 we’ll see mass biological weapons testing and the explosion of a nuclear bomb. Well, during your internship in Bulgaria, there are more fun things to do!

Cyprus : Aphrodite

During your course in Cyprus, you can delve into Greek mythology: Kronos, king of the Titans, cut off the genitals of his father (nice family), Ouranos, and threw them into the sea, so his divine seed gave birth to Aphrodite in the foam of the sea near Paphos. You can now climb the rock and bathe in the sea to, according to legend, increase your chances of fertility. This is a great place to visit during your internship in Cyprus: it’s very beautiful, and it’s right next to Paphos, a fully listed town.

Denmark: jumping into the New Year

A little family tradition: the Danes, just before midnight on New Year’s Day, get on a chair and jump off just after the stroke of midnight! If you don’t, legend has it that it will bring you bad luck for the coming year… So if you’re on work experience in Denmark for the New Year, it’s not just because people are dismantled that they get on a chair.

Estonia: Estonian mythology

Estonian mythology is much less well known than Greek or Roman mythology, but it is nonetheless rich in history and legend. Kirivöö: “The belt” This is the oldest and most magical of all manufactured objects; tied around the body to heal the sick, or around the wrist to bring strength and protection to the wearer. Well, if you’re ill during your internship in Estonia, that’s no reason to wear a belt around your head: it’s safer to go and see a doctor.

Spain: Mount Arabi

Mount Arabi, in the Murcia region, is the stuff of legends. Spirits from the Muslim-Christian wars are said to lurk there, a gallery leads to a lost treasure, and many locals have seen UFOs. All good reasons to visit Murcia and Cartagena during your work placement in Spain! What’s more, legends aside, Spain is full of religious festivals and traditions: I invite you to find out more and take part, whether or not you’re a believer, the main aim is to have a good time – it’s always a great atmosphere and a great party!

Finland: Santa Claus

Head for Rovaniemi: Santa Claus Town for THE world’s biggest legend. Here, the legend is so strong that you can visit everything from Santa’s house to the workshops: more information on the Santa Claus Village website. I went there when I was studying in Finland, and the truth is: it’s really stylish. During your work placement in Finland, I’d advise you to go there if you’re there in winter, it’s really wonderful: just make sure you’re well covered up, the temperatures can be very cold.

Greece: mythology

The Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses are two of the world’s greatest works of Greek mythology. The birth of Athens alone contains no fewer than 3 legends. The one I like best is the following: when the Fact created the city, Poseidon and Athena both wanted the city under their protection, but Zeus couldn’t decide between them, so they brought the people together. Athena brought forth an olive tree from the earth, while Poseidon offered a horse: the people chose the olive tree, symbolising peace and safety, over the horse, which symbolises strength and prosperity in war. If you go on a course in Greece, you’ll be able to visit all the places that have made Greek mythology one of the best-known in the world, even to the point of inspiring films and TV series to this day.

Hungary: Elisabeth Báthory

So when it comes to legends that give you the willies, we’re not too shabby. You see, Countess Bathory made herself sweat a bit back in the day, and so a whole legend ensued, mingling with history: mad murderer, or plot against the Countess, historians still don’t know. She had a young girl kidnapped and smeared with honey before handing her over to insects, or beaten servants with studded gloves, but that’s just the beginning. In addition to the orgies they allegedly took part in, the Countess is said to have had between 80 and 600 young women tortured and murdered for her own pleasure. Very nice. Well, I promise, there are better things to do than visit this legend during your internship in Hungary.

Ireland: the legend of the Leprechaun

Legend has it that the Leprechaun keeps gold coins in a cauldron at the feet of the rainbows they count, plays pranks all the time and makes shoes. If you catch one, it will grant 3 of your wishes in exchange for its freedom. Best hunting to you, then, during your internship in Ireland. Don’t hesitate to wish for world peace as your first wish, just in case you catch one. ?

Italy: whitebirds

I came across this one during one of my visits to Milan, and I think it’s super cute, so I’m going to share it with you rather than go into Roman mythology: a family of whitebirds had set themselves up on a chimney to keep warm. Because of the cold, the chimney was lit, and the blackbirds that warmed themselves filled with soot. That’s how the blackbirds turned black… ! If you’re doing your work experience in Italy, it’s all about the legends of kings and queens, dragons and castles. There are legends in every place, and they’re often mixed up with history, which is enough to sow a few doubts in our minds.

Latvia: the legend validated by history

For a long time, the Rose of Turaida was a legend, until history finally proved it to be true. A child found on a battlefield grew up to be so beautiful that she was nicknamed the Rose te Turaida. While she was seeing her lover in a cave, a Polish man wanted to marry her off and came up with a ploy to lure her away one evening. She came to the rendezvous, and while the Pole was trying to force her, she offered him a magic scarf that would protect him from being struck by a sword. Doubting the veracity of her powers, she put on the scarf and asked the Pole to strike her with a sword: she died under the blow, but her honour remained intact. So ends the legend, and you can visit the young woman’s grave during your course in Latvia, where flowers are still laid regularly today.

Lithuania: the Iron Wolf

While the Duke was away hunting with his companions, they set up camp. During the night, the Duke dreamt that an iron wolf, howling like a penny, stood proudly on the summit of the mountain on which he had shot a European bison that day. When he woke up, he asked Lizdeika, a priest, for advice on how to interpret the dream. Lizdeika told him that the dream was about building a city to be the capital of Lithuania on that very spot, and Vilnius was born. Lithuania has a rich history, which I strongly advise you to learn about during your internship in Lithuania. From the times of the barbarians, to the Swedish wars and the Second World War, Vilnius has been at the centre of history on many occasions.

Malta: the miracle of Mosta

Once again, legend mingles with history. During the Second World War, the Nazis, who weren’t too respectful, decided to bomb a church full of civilians, Mosta’s: the bomb is still on display today. It never exploded, and no one was killed; legend has it that it was God’s grace that protected the premises. You can visit this church during your work placement in Malta: it’s the fourth largest dome in the world and is absolutely magnificent.

Norway: Norwegian trolls

Trolls are part of Norwegian folklore and are still the stuff of children’s stories (and not just children’s stories! There are trolls in Harry Potter too!). They can be big and sinister, some even towering over mountains, or small and playful, with one or three heads, but often with just one eye in the middle of their face. Today, they play an important role in Norwegian culture and in the relationship with nature. You can visit the Fjords during your work placement in Norway.

Romania: the legend of Dracula

Dracula, based on the novel by Bram Stoker, originated on the edge of Romania, in the castle of Queen Marie of Romania at the entrance to the Bran-Rucar Pass in the Carpathian Mountains. Your work placement in Romania will give you the chance to venture into the dark and eerie castle of this fascinating and frightening character.

Netherlands: St Nicholas Day

Known to all and widely celebrated in certain European countries such as the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas does not actually come from present-day Europe, but from Turkey, since Nicholas of Myra (who inspired the character) was born in Patara. What’s more, during your work placement in the Netherlands at Christmas, you won’t be able to escape the festivities in honour of Saint Nicholas. According to legend, every year Saint Nicholas arrives on board a steamship and distributes thousands of gifts to Dutch households. A hot meal and a basket full of sweets and marzipan await you during your work placement in the Netherlands.

Poland: The Woman-Eating Dragon

Well yeah, the Dragon used to eat poultry, but also women. Then, King Krak, a little worried about the fate of his people, promised his daughter in marriage to whoever could kill the dragon. While several knights and masters-at-arms were spanked by the dragon (understand that they were burnt to a crisp, Games of Thrones-style), a cobbler had an idea: stuff a sheep with sulphur. The Dragon, who shared more chromosomes with the oyster than with us, rushed in and ate the sheep: except that sulphur + fire, you know: BANG, the dragon exploded, the cobbler married Wanda, and the town was named Krak in honour of the King: welcome to Krakow for your internship in Poland!

Czech Republic: Pact with the Devil

One of the most popular is the legend of Faust, who is said to have made a pact with the devil in exchange for 24 years of earthly pleasures. Hm, the guy’s no fool either, he’s aiming high. Once this period had elapsed, the devil is said to have swept him off his feet. The story goes that the hole in the floor of Faust’s house in Prague’s Nové Město district remained visible for years. The more I get to know Prague, the more sex stories I learn. By the way, during your internship in the Czech Republic, you can visit the Sex Machine Museum, dedicated to the History of sex toys, original.

United Kingdom : Glamis Castle

The UK is full of legends and superstitions, the most famous being Loch Ness. Most of them are pretty spooky, so I’m going to take a soft one: Glamis Castle. It’s said to be the most haunted place in the UK, where you might come across a number of ghosts, including that of a Lady sentenced to the stake for witchcraft, or that of an Earl who lost his soul after a game of cards with the Devil himself. If you’re a fan of thrills and spills and the paranormal, then an internship in the UK is for you.

Portugal: the Barcelos cockerel

I really like this one. Unexplained murders in Barcelos. A pilgrim on his way to Compostela passes through the town and, being unknown, is accused of the murders. As he was about to be hanged, he shouted his innocence and pointed to a rooster that was cooking, saying that the rooster would rise and crow, thus proclaiming the condemned man’s innocence. The day the sentence was carried out, the rooster got up and crowed. Not bad, is it? And there are many more, including a Portuguese version of Romeo and Juliet, to discover during your course in Portugal.

Sweden: the Storsjöodjuret monster

It’s not the same as Loch Ness, since it has the body of a snake and the head of a dog (doesn’t that remind you of the Endless Tales?), and lives in Lake Storsjön. Legend has it that the creature was added to the list of endangered species, only to be removed a few years later. Also, during your work placement in Sweden, don’t hesitate to visit the lakes region on the border with Finland, it’s absolutely breathtaking.

Slovakia: Juraj Janosik

Shared with Poland, this Slovak legend tells of the local Robin Hood, a thief with a big heart, who steals from the rich to give to the poor. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the same happy ending, as despite the supernatural strength that the legend confers on him, he was executed in 1713: a hard blow. During your placement in Slovakia, you’ll have the chance to discover other legends that are just as popular and just as creepy: thrill-seekers welcome!

Slovenia: the Dragon

Behind the well-known legend of the Golden Fleece, however, we know far too little about the rest of the story. After stealing the fleece, Jason confronted another dragon in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana. Even today, you can still find traces of this legend on monuments, bridges and the city’s coat of arms. But the story doesn’t end there. If you go on your work placement in Slovenia, you’ll have the chance to discover the dragon’s ‘babies’, called protae, in the Postojna cave.

If you’re ready to explore the myths and legends of Europe, get in touch with us and together we’ll design a work placement abroad that’s just right for you, so that you can have the time of your life on your international work placement.

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