The serpent of Manlleu


Manlleu is a town on the river Ter.  Today the river banks are one of the most relaxing places in the town. The Ter has always been important for Manlleu:  In the past people used to go there to wash clothes, and to enjoy themselves.

The river is also a place where fantastic/incredible legends were born, maybe because of the thick fog which covers the landscape in winter.

Also: The river is the site of some incredible legends, maybe …

Once upon a time, the area known as La Devesa was a thick forest where you could easily get lost.  People didn’t dare to go there because in the deep woods lived a terrible serpent.

The villagers knew about it and warned the children of its dangers:

”Remember children, the serpent is not an ordinary snake!  It is as big as a house, it has got hair on its head and wears a diamond as a crown!

-”It eats everything in sight:  pigs, horses, donkeys and sheep;  it eats chariots, soldiers and priests… It’s terrifying!”.

-”And if you don’t believe it, go and see —for yourself and you will find out…

One day a reckless young man named Pere dared to walk into the Devesa forest.  He discovered the serpent’s nest on a millstone. He hid behind some trees and watched the serpent.  Suddenly the beast woke up, left the diamond on the millstone and went to the river Ter to drink some water – the serpent was afraid of losing the diamond in the river so it always left it on the/its nest.

The young man saw the diamond there… “This is my chance” – he thought.  He took/grabbed it and ran away as fast as he could. “I am rich!” he said.

The serpent came back from the river.  You can’t imagine how angry it was/became when it saw the diamond had been stolen…

The serpent used its strange powers and followed the scent of the thief.  Pere ran to his house, thinking he was safe from danger.  However, soon the serpent was knocking at his door using its huge tail.

Inside the house the young man’s parents were terrified / horror-stricken:

-”I told you this boy would lead us to ruin” – the mother said – “How could he dare( to)* steal the diamond from the serpent?”  “Where is he going with this mortar now?” “Is he going to cook something?”  “He has gone nuts!”            * to express indignation, no “to”

After knocking and knocking the beast managed to smash the door and break into the house.

“I will hide the diamond under the mortar” – the boy thought.

What next?… A tragic end seemed near.

The fearful serpent could smell where the diamond was.  It wrapped its body around the mortar.  It wanted to turn it, to break it…

The serpent squeezed and squeezed *but finally, exhausted, it died, wrapped around the mortar. *pressed

The young boy and his family were so happy and grateful for being alive after all that had happened.

They offered the diamond to Our Lady of the Spring –an image of the Virgin Mary in Manlleu.  People say it was there until the French took it away years later…  and if you don’t believe it go and see for yourself and you will find out…

(translation by Joan Mitjavila Gubieras, revision by Joellen Quincannon Wagner)


  • Ajuntament de Manlleu
  • Associació per les Tradicions Populars Catalanes El Serpent de Manlleu
  • Diputació de Barcelona
  • Manlleu Capital del Ter