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Bieszczady Mountains

Bieszczady, Bukovské vrchy
Bukovec Mountains
Marked as B2:c1; part of the Outer Eastern Carpathians
Highest point
Peak Pikuy
Elevation 1,405 m (4,610 ft)
Location of Bieszczady and Sanocko-Turczańskie Mountains in Poland
Countries Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine
States/Provinces Subcarpathian and Prešov Region
Range coordinates
Parent range Poloniny
Borders on Lower Beskids, Pogórze Bukowskie
The Bukovec Mountains in Slovakia (gray)
Bieszczady. The sight from Połonina Caryńska in the direction of Ustrzyki Górne (town) and Tarnica (mountain).
A typical meadow (połonina) on a top of Szeroki Wierch near Tarnica, Poland
Szeroki Wierch seen from Tarnica
Bieszczady, Poland
Połonina on a top of Mała Rawka, Bieszczady, Poland

Bieszczady is a mountain range that runs from the extreme south-east of Poland through Ukraine and Slovakia. It forms the western part of the Eastern Beskids (Beskidy Wschodnie), and is more generally part of the Outer Eastern Carpathians. The mountain range is situated between the Łupków Pass (640 m) and the Vyshkovskyi Pass (933 m).

Frequently Bieszczady refers only to the Western Bieszczady or even only to the part of the range lying within Poland.

The highest peak of Bieszczady is Mt. Pikuy (1405 m) in Ukraine. The highest peak of the Polish part is Tarnica (1346 m).


  • Term 1
  • Division 2
  • History 3
  • Hiking trails 4
  • Literature 5
  • Notes 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • External links 8


The term Bieszczady in the wide sense is used only in Poland. In Slovakia and Ukraine "Bieszczady" usually refers only to the part situated in Poland. In Poland "Bieszczady" also refers usually only to the Polish part of the (Western) Bieszczady. In Ukraine, the "Eastern Bieszczady" have various names (unstable terminology), they usually contain the word Beskids. In Slovakia the Slovak part is called Bukovec Mountains (Bukovské vrchy).

Historically, the terms Bieszczad and Beskid have been used for hundreds of years to describe the mountains separating Poland and Ruthenia from Hungary. They were known by the Latin name Poloniae Alpe Besczade.

A colloquial Polish term referring to Bieszczady is Biesy, because folk etymology connects the origin of the mountains to demonic (bies) activity.

The true etymology of the name "Bieszczady" is unknown. It may by related to Middle Low German beshêt, beskēt, meaning watershed.[1]

Church of the Visitation in Lesko, the oldest Roman Catholic church in Bieszczady, founded by count Piotr Kmita in 1539


Since there exist many variants of divisions of the mountain ranges and names for the Beskids and Ukrainian Carpathians, several divisions are given in the following:

Division 1:

  • Bieszczady or Western Bieszczady (PL: Bieszczady Zachodnie) + Bukovec Mountains (SK: Bukovské vrchy) + what the Ukrainians call Western Beskids (Zachidni Beskydy)
  • Skole Beskids (UA: Skolivs'ki Beskydy), partly or completely also known as High Beskids (Vysoki Beskydy); part of what Ukrainians call Eastern Beskids (Skhidni Beskydy)

Division 2:

Division 3:

Division 4: In an old Ukrainian division, what is defined here as the Bieszczady in a wider sense corresponds to the western part of the Mid-Carpathian Depression and to the westernmost part of the Polonynian Beskids.

Bieszczady. A panoramic view from Połonina Wetlińska in the direction of Połonina Caryńska and Tarnica peaks, and Ustrzyki Górne (town).


Settled in prehistoric times, the south-eastern Poland region that is now Bieszczady was overrun in pre-Roman times by various tribes, including the Celts, Goths and Vandals (Przeworsk culture and Puchov culture). After the fall of the Roman Empire, of which most of south-eastern Poland was part (all parts below the San), Hungarians and West Slavs invaded the area.

The region subsequently became part of the Great Moravian state. Upon the invasion of the Hungarian tribes into the heart of the Great Moravian Empire around 899, the Lendians of the area declared their allegiance to the Hungarians. The region then became a site of contention between Poland, Kievan Rus and Hungary starting in at least the 9th century.

This area was mentioned for the first time in 981, when Volodymyr the Great of Kievan Rus took the area over on the way into Poland. In 1018 it returned to Poland, 1031 back to Rus, in 1340 Casimir III of Poland recovered it.

Bieszczady was one of the strategically important areas of the Carpathian mountains bitterly contested in battles on the Eastern Front of World War I during the winter of 1914/1915.[2]

Up until 1947, 84% of the population of the Polish part of the Bieszczadzkie Mountains was Boyko. The killing of the Polish General Karol Świerczewski in Jabłonki by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in 1947 was the direct cause of the replacement of the Boykos, the so-called Operation Vistula. The area was mostly uninhabited afterward. In 2002, then president Aleksander Kwaśniewski expressed regret for this operation.

In 1991, the UNESCO East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve was created that encapsulates a large part of the area and continues into Slovakia and Ukraine. It comprises the Bieszczady National Park (Poland), Poloniny National Park (Slovakia) + Uzhansky National Nature Park (Ukraine). Animals living in this reserve include, among others, black storks, brown bears, wolves and bison.

Hiking trails


  • Prof. Jadwiga Warszyńska. Karpaty Polskie : przyroda, człowiek i jego działalność ; Uniwersytet Jagielloński. Kraków, 1995 ISBN 83-233-0852-7
  • Prof. Jerzy Kondracki. Geografia fizyczna Polski Warszawa : Państ. Wydaw. Naukowe, 1988, ISBN 83-01-02323-6


  1. ^ Zbigniew Gołąb. The Origins of the Slavs: A Linguist's View. Slavica Publishers, Inc., 1992 p. 342. "The Germanic etymology of Bieszczad // Beskid was proposed by prof. Jan Michał Rozwadowski (1914:162, etc). He derives the variant beščad from Germc. biskaid, wchich is represented by MLG besche (beskêt) Trennung and by Scandinavian bêsked, borrowed from [...]"
  2. ^ "The Pursuit and Battles at Sanok and Rzeszów (May 6). - After his severe defeat, Radko Dimitriev's plan was to hold the Łupków Pass with his left wing, and, supported upon this, to bring the pursuit to a stand on the line NowotaniecBesko-right bank of the Wisłok, where there were positions favoured by the lay of the ground, and then, between the Vistula and the Wisłok, on the line Wielopole-RzeszówMielec. Here he proposed to reconstitute his units, which had fallen into great disorder, and to strengthen them by bringing up reserves. Troops were sent to him from other fronts, and by the 8th he could again dispose of 18 inf. divs., 5 ca y. divs. and 5 Reichswehr bdes. The orders were that the offensive was to be continued with all possible vigour. Mackensen's arm y was to push forward over the stretch of the Wisłok between Besko and Frysztak on Mrzygłód and Tyczyn, and the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand on Rzeszów, while Boroevic was to roll up Brussilov's VIII. Russian Army in the direction of Sanok. Bohm's II. Austrian Army was to join up corps by corps from the left wing in proportion to the progress of the attack."Enc. Britanica


  • Rosa Lehmann, "Social(ist) engineering. Taming the devils of the Polish Bieszczady," Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 42,3 (2009), 423-444.

External links

  • Bieszczady National Park - in English, with many links.
  • Bieszczady Photo Gallery (2005)
  • Bieszczady
  • East Carpathians Biosphere Reserve
  • The movie "Bieszczady in 38 hours," showing the beautiful landscape of Bieszczady Mountains in Poland
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