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Photo Essay: On the Border – The Slovakia Tatras

slovakia tatras

After several months of computer problems and other complications….most of them very good complications….I finally had time to sit down and edit some of the images I captured in October 2014 while hiking in the Slovakia Tatras National Park with members of the European Wilderness Society.

This is the Polish-Slovakian border. In the second image (below) Poland can be found on your left and Slovakia on your right. This is the top of  Račkova Valley.

The National Park is actually a trans-boundary park.  The idea for the park dates all the way back to 1888 when a priest by the name of Bogusław Królikowski advocated for its creation on the Polish side. At the time both Poland and Slovakia were held by foreign powers.  The Poles totally partitioned and the Slovaks subsumed under the Kingdom of Hungary.  And so the cry for the creation of the park on the Polish side and the deep searching for the physical soul of the Slovak people I wrote about here were part of a nationalism and cry for independence.

Writers, painters, musicians, nationalists, scientists from both sides began promoting the idea of not only independence but of a shared heritage centered in the Tatras Mountains.

A new era for the national park project began with the dissolution of the empires and the subsequent emergence of nation states in East Central Europe after World War I. In a joint effort, Polish and Czechoslovak natural scientists promoted the establishment of several transboundary parks to appease unresolved border disputes. This idea developed simultaneously to the establishment of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park at the US-Canadian border and aroused lively interest within the international nature protection scene. In one neighboring sector of the Carpathians, the Pieniny Mountains, the first European transboundary nature park was created in 1932. However, the Tatra National Park that represented the centerpiece of the ambitious plan was stalled due to conflicting activities in the area, ranging from a booming tourism sector to intensive sheep grazing. In 1939, the Polish state went ahead and unilaterally established a nature park on its side of the border. It eroded the initial idea of a jointly established nature preserve as it incorporated a territory that Poland had gained from Czechoslovakia in the wake of the 1938 Munich Agreement. The outbreak of World War II prevented further development of the park.

It was only after the war that both sides firmly established the parks and in 1992 there were together declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

But as I wrote here, that isn’t the end of the story. In the Slovakia Tatras, things are complicated.

I’m not going to go on for the moment and subject you to my rambling writings. Instead, just enjoy this epectaular spot….

slovakia tatras

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slovakia tatras

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slovakia tatras

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