The legend goes that once two mermaid sisters lived in the Baltic Sea, but bored with their maritime existence, both decided to head inland. One went to Copenhagen, where her statue now stands outside the harbour, and the other swam up the River Vistula from Gdansk, eventually settling near the Old Town in Warsaw.
While local fishermen were somewhat annoyed when the mermaid freed fish from their nets, they were beguiled by her singing and pledged to do her no harm. One day, a rich merchant captured the mermaid in a shed, intending to show her off at a fair. However, when the locals heard her screams, they came to the mermaid's rescue, and after regaining her liberty, she promised to defend their village – which soon grew into the city of Warsaw – forever.
Thus, the mermaid, armed with her sword and shield, has become the symbol of the Polish capital, with her statue situated in the heart of the Old Town. However, for the duration of UEFA EURO 2012, she has gained 16 new sisters, with mermaids wearing the colours of the competing nations – and sporting footballs rather than swords – scattered around the city, providing an interesting way to explore Warsaw.
You can find them in Teatralny Square, Trzech Krzyży Square, Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, Konstytucji Square, Castle Square, the New Town Market Place, the Multimedia Fountain Park, near the Chopin Museum, near the Copernicus Science Centre, and near the De Gaulle Roundabout, as well as in the Warsaw fan zone.
And they are not just pretty faces. Each bears a welcome message in the language of the relevant team, and a smartphone code which allows users to download a special national mermaids' application. Available in 14 languages, this includes a map of the city and up-to-date information on what to see and where to go during UEFA EURO 2012 – as well as a current weather forecast, which for the last week in Warsaw has been pretty simple: hot.
Plenty of supporters have been following the mermaid trail around the city. Alessandro from Italy told UEFA.com: "I think it's a very good idea. The mermaids are pretty cool, and colourful, and they symbolise the atmosphere of the tournament."
So if you really do not know where to go in Warsaw, the answer is simple: ask a mermaid.
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