Tatra Mountains. Genesis and division
The Tatras are the highest mountain range in the Central Western Carpathian range, the highest range also between the Alps and the Urals and the Caucasus. They are located on the border between Poland and Slovakia. They are the only mountains in Poland with an alpine character, and the view of them is almost breathtaking. Where does their name come from? What is the highest peak of the Tatras? What else are they characterized by?
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1. How were the Tatra Mountains formed?
The Tatras are folded mountains of the Alpine orogeny, hence they are characterized by the so-called young topography. During the Late Cretaceous Era, as part of the Sub-Hertz, rock series were folded and shifted many kilometers north. It was at this time that the Tatra napkins were created.
In the Eocene era, the area of the Tatra Mountains (mainly the northern part) was covered with a shallow sea, in which numulite limestones, conglomerates, mudstones, sandstones and shales were formed, covering the slopes of the regli and filling the Zakopane Basin and building the Gubałówka Range. The final uplift occurred in the late Miocene, about 10-15 million years ago.
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2. The origin of the name Tatry
The etymology of the name "Tatry" is not unambiguous. In the 13th and 14th centuries, in the official Hungarian documents, the Carpathians (or rather the Tatras) were called Thorchal or Cechal, and sometimes Schneegebürg, Montes Nivium.
In 1790, Baltazar Hacquet wrote that the Slavs called these mountains Tatri or Tatari because of the presence of the Tatar hordes. Professor Rozwadowski links the origin of the name Tatry (Old Polish: Tartry) with the French name tertre, which means a hill.
According to the above translation, the name Tatry would initially mean hills. Norwid also wrote that "Tertre is the Tatra Mountains". According to other authors, the origin of this name is Thracian or Dackie.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the High Tatras were called Karpak (the highest mountain, covered with snow).
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3. Topography of the Tatra Mountains
The total area of the Tatra Mountains is 785 km². About 175 km², that is, slightly over 22% is within the borders of Poland, and 610 km² and that is almost 78% in Slovakia.
The length of the Tatra Mountains measured from the south-western foothills of Ostry Wierch Kwaczyński to the eastern foothills of Kobyli Wierch is 57 km in a straight line, and 80 km along the main ridge. The greatest width is 18.5 km, and the average is 15 km.
The Great European Watershed between the Black Sea and Baltic Sea basins runs across a large part of the main ridge of the Tatra Mountains. The areas to the east and north are the catchment areas of the Baltic Sea (Poprad and Dunajec basins); the rest of the area is the catchment area of the Black Sea (Váh and Orava basins).
From the west and the north, the Tatra Mountains are surrounded by the Orawa - Podhale Depression, and from the east and south by the Liptov - Spiskie Depression. The bottoms of their valleys are located at an altitude of about 500 - 700 m above sea level. The differences in height between the valleys and the peaks of the Tatra Mountains can be up to 2 km. The presence of these valleys additionally enhances the impression of the mountain massif of the Tatra Mountains being uplifted.
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4. The division and the highest peaks of the Tatra Mountains
We divide the Tatras into:
4.1. Eastern Tatras
- High Tatras - the highest peak - Gerlach (2655 m above sea level) on the Slovak side; border, north-west peak of Rysy (2499 m above sea level) on the Polish side. The main ridge runs from the Liliowe Pass to the Kopa Pass;
- Belianske Tatras - the highest peak - Hawrań (2152 m above sea level) on the Slovak side.
The High Tatras are made of crystalline rocks, thanks to which the water remains afloat. Hence, we can meet there such picturesque and beautiful lakes as, for example, Morskie Oko, Wielki Staw in the Valley of Five Polish Ponds or Czarny Staw pod Rysami.
These reservoirs attract tourists with their picturesqueness, and the above-mentioned Morskie Oko is particularly popular, because without climbing you can see the beautiful panorama of the High Tatras from such a close distance.
The Tatra waterfalls are also magnificent, such as the famous Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza in the Roztoki Valley or Siklawa, located on the border of the Five Polish Ponds Valley and the Roztoka Valley.
4.2. Western Tatras
The highest peak is Bystra (2248 m above sea level) on the Slovak side; Starobociański Wierch (2176 m above sea level) on the Polish side.
The Western Tatras can be separated from the Siwi Wierch Massif (1805 m above sea level), entirely located on the Slovak side.
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The Western Tatras are lower than the Eastern Tatras, built of water-permeable limestones, which is why there are many caves in this part, such as Mroźna Cave, Naciekowa Cave or Mylna Cave.
The strong point of the Western Tatras are beautiful, vast valleys, such as the Chochołowska Valley or the Kościeliska Valley, accessible to everyone and showing the richness of the Tatra Mountains.
The border between the Eastern and Western Tatras is the Liliowe Pass and Dolina Sucha Woda Gąsienicowa (on the Polish side) and the Silent Liptowska Valley (on the Slovak side). The Bielskie Tatras are separated from the High Tatras by the Pod Kopą Pass.