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HISTORY TALKS...

Peaks of the High Tatras

IT IS interesting to note how Slovak words dominate the names of peaks in the High Tatras, even though a large portion of the mountain range lies in the Spiš region, which for centuries was home to a large German community. Currently, there are almost no German names here, even though it is known for sure that the Germans gave names to the Tatra peaksandvalleys as well.

IT IS interesting to note how Slovak words dominate the names of peaks in the High Tatras, even though a large portion of the mountain range lies in the Spiš region, which for centuries was home to a large German community. Currently, there are almost no German names here, even though it is known for sure that the Germans gave names to the Tatra peaksandvalleys as well.

The mountain range itself was once called Schneegebirge – the Snow Mountain Range – in German. There is an explanation: even though the German settlers could see the mountains from afar and gave names to the peaks, hardly any of the German residents ventured much closer, as the mountains were a wilderness and visiting them took several days of hiking.

The only people who visited the High Tatras regularly were shepherds from the villages at the foot of the mountains. Slovak shepherds drove their herds deep into the mountains and forests, and for that reason mostof the names come from them.

The names of some of the Tatra mountain peaks are derived from the municipalities lying under them. For example, Gerlachovský štít (Gerlach Peak) isnamedafter the village of Gerlachov, Slavkovský štít after Ve¾ký Slavkov andLomnickýštít after Ve¾ká Lomnica.

Some other peaks received their names from their distinctive appearance. Kriváò means crooked, Hrubý vrch means thick hill andOstrý štítmeanssharp peak.

Similarly, the peak named Konèistá (piked) that reaches skyward to more than 2,537 metres got its name from its distinctive shape. This postcard by Karel Plicka from the 1920s shows wooden houses under Konèistá that likely were the village of Štôla.

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