Meetings with Poprad
YOU CAN’T TURN BACK POPRAD, YOU CAN’T STOP THE HALNY WIND…
The source of Poprad is situated in the Slovak Tatras at about 1,950 metres a.s.l. At the beginning, the water of Poprad runs through Low Tatras to the east to reach the Poprad Basin covering the area of about 30 km2. The decisive change of direction of the river to the north occurs in the area of the city called with the same name as the river – Poprad. What is surprising is that although Poprad flows in this area dozens of meters higher than the level of the Hornád river, located 5.5 km away, the two rivers do not meet. Poprad is the only river that runs on the southern slopes of Tatras, penetrating the chain of Beskid mountains and running towards the Vistula. This extraordinary fact made Slovaks call Poprad “an unfaithful river”. The river enters the territory of Poland near Leluchów. It is here that the most beautiful part of the valley begins. The characteristic, most well-known fragments of the woody Poprad route are located to the south of Muszyna, near Żegiestów-Zdrój, Piwniczna and Rytro.
Poprad forms the longest gorge valley in Poland. The length of the river is 169.8 km, and its unusual meandering is evidenced by the fact that it is less than 60 km long in a straight line from the source to the mouth. The depth of the river is generally low and reflects approximately 1.5 m. This doesn’t mean that there are no deeper places such as Czarne Wiry in the area of Muszyna, where, in normal water conditions, the depth of the river reaches 6–8 metres. On a section of 31.1 km, Poprad constitutes the border between Poland and Slovakia. Let’s not forget, however, that the today’s Slovakia exists since 1993. Until the end of the First World War, Slovakia was part of Hungary, which is why the highlanders folk songs popular in the Poprad area mention the “Hungarian side”.
The presence of Poprod in the culture of Beskid Sądecki, and even the entire Carpathians, far exceeds its geographical parameters. This has its origins in the history and topography of the river. Since pre-historic times, Carpathians were crossed by trade and diplomatic routes, as well as war expeditions. The communication between the mountains and the wild forest was possible only by rivers and just a few valleys linking the main routes on the southern side of the Carpathians to the routes leading towards the Baltic Sea. Poprad played exactly such a role. This unusual guide was leading merchant caravans, armies, dignitaries and diplomats, anonymous wanderers and famous naturalists. Salt, lead, and broadcloth were transported south, from Poland. Copper, wax, horses, swine, wine, fruit were imported. Such a communication system required adequate security, hence the castles and strongholds located on the nearby slopes. Over the years, or rather centuries, this route has lost in value, and finally Poprad became a refuge for the bathers, and bathing in the river was considered as a powerful treatment. There are currently no guarded bathing sites on any section of the river, so the waters of Poprad are not monitored, but it attracts plenty of amateurs of swimming anyway.
The “Meeting by Poprad” project is realised within the National Culture Centre’s programme “Culture on-line”. There is a series of videos showing the charm of the Poprad Valley, available, among others, on the website of the Municipal Cultural Centre in Piwniczna-Zdrój and on YouTube. This task was successfully implemented by: Mariusz Oleksy, Dorota and Grzegorz Śmigowski, Wanda Łomnicka-Dulak, Stanisław Źrałka, Magdalena Żuber, Maria Lebdowiczowa, Seweryn Łomnicki, Michał Polakiewicz and Mieszko Kluska (Fly Cloud Media). They were supported by, among others, Krzysztof Tomasiak, a forestry education specialist from the Piwniczna Forest District. The videos are very popular on the web.