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Budweis, Czechia

Stray Boulder (Bludný Kámen)

Locals say the stone that marks the spot where the gallows once stood can lead you astray. 

Samson’s fountain sits in the middle of the Přemysl Otakar II Square in the center of Budweis. The area around the fountain, surrounded by historic buildings from as early as the 1500s, is the largest town square in Czechia. The figures of Justice, Wisdom, Courage and Prudence and a quartet of bronze gargoyles guard the square.

There’s so much to see it would be easy to walk right over the small spot that strays from the square’s otherwise neatly arranged bricks and concrete slabs. Just a few yards from the fountain, there’s a small, rounded rock with a cross carved into it.

The Bludný Kámen (Stray Boulder) marks the place where the gallows once stood. Some locals call it the “vicious stone” because it’s said to memorialize the executions of 10 men who conspired against King George of Poděbrady in the 1470s.

While it is literally astray in the otherwise paved square, the title also references a local legend that says anyone who walks over it after nine in the evening will wander the streets lost until the sun rises.

In 2010, when some teenagers dug the stone out and moved it to another spot for a prank, the police thought it had gone missing and led a search for the iconic rock. The city was a little embarrassed to admit they’d overlooked its new location, which was close to where it belongs.