Pieniny Mountains

Pieniny – it is the name of the biggest and the most beautiful mountain range within the belt of lime rocks, stretching on the length of over 500 km from Bratislava through Moravia, along the southern slope of Western Beskidy Mountains until Máramaros in Romania. On the Slovak-Polish border those lime stones were pushed away under the usual rafters’ Carpathian rocks. Nowadays Pieniny, like white teeth of a huge dragon rose among the hills, and thus separating Podhale from Spisz and Beskid Sądecki Mts.

It happened in the place, where a river (today called Dunajec) was formerly meandering. The river remained in the very same spot, where millions of years ago, while eroding the rocks on which it was flowing, it shaped a narrow, very winding and picturesque river gorge. At the distance in a straight line amounting to merely 2,5 km Dunajec forms as many as 7 curves, reaching up to 9 km length. The altitude of steep walls of canyon oscillates between 300 and 500 metres and the bottom is becoming narrow in places reaching only several meters and it is completely filed with the water of the river. On the left, the Polish side there is sometimes even not a single place to stand on the shore safe. On the right, the Slovak side there is a narrow path, which was formerly a trading route running from Poland to Hungary. One can ford Dunajec or go across a bridge, and then on foot or by bike through the very heart of Pieniny Mountains, actually travelling from Poland to…Poland along a fragment of Slovakia.

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photo by Jerzy Opioła

The whole calcareous range is stretching out for 30 km from the west to the east having no more than 5 km width. The most spectacular part of Pieniny is protected in the trans-border Pieninski National Park. The most important peak seen in the pictures.

Most of the tourists prefer Dunajec rafting trip in summer, which is possible from 1st of April until the 31st of October since more than 165 years. From rafters’ harbour in Kąty the boats are taking people on the unusual trip. The route is 15 km long and despite that in the straight line to the final harbour in Szczawnica is only 6 km away. The difference of altitudes is 36 metres. Rafting trip, depending on the level of water takes from 2 up to 3 hours. Return to the point of departure takes place by bus along the observation route running along the Polish part of Pieniny.

The whole region, despite its small size is very rich in geo-botanic respect. Flora is connected with the calcareous ground and unusually steep slopes. Within the small area there are many very diversified habitats. Among these habitats mountain meadows covered with flowers for many centuries used as a grazing land for sheep are very precious.

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photo by Skarabeusz

Pieniny walking routes, due to quite big gaps on short sections are difficult, and in cold and wet season they may be even dangerous. In the Polish part there are numerous observation decks on the canyon of Dunajec. At the feet of Pieniny destinations worth recommending are Royal Castle in Czorsztyn, Horvath Castle in Niedzica, a dam on Dunajec and Krościenko and Szczawnica – health-resorts with plenty of mineral waters springs and good treatments base. In the western part there is a monumental church in Grywałd and on the boundary of Beskid Sądecki there is a former Greek catholic Unite church in Jaworki built in 1798 according to the official guidelines of Austrian Empire. On the Slovak side of the river, the most willingly visited places are the cloister complex in Red Cloister and the castle in Stara Lubovla.

Source: http://www.poland.travel/en/highlights/pieniny-mountains-2