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Wisla 010.jpg
The Vistula in southern Poland with Silesian Beskids seen in the background.
Vistula river map.png
Vistula River drainage basin in Ukraine, Belarus, Slovakia and Poland
Native nameWisła  (Polish)
Country Poland
Towns/Cities Kraków, Sandomierz, Warsaw, Płock, Włocławek, Toruń, Bydgoszcz, Gdańsk
Physical characteristics
  location Barania Góra, Silesian Beskids
  coordinates 49°36′21″N19°00′13″E / 49.60583°N 19.00361°E / 49.60583; 19.00361
  elevation1,106 m (3,629 ft)
Gdańsk Bay, Baltic Sea,
Przekop channel near Świbno, Poland
54°21′42″N18°57′07″E / 54.36167°N 18.95194°E / 54.36167; 18.95194 Coordinates: 54°21′42″N18°57′07″E / 54.36167°N 18.95194°E / 54.36167; 18.95194
0 m (0 ft)
Length1,047 km (651 mi)
Basin size193,960 km2 (74,890 sq mi)
  location Gdańsk Bay, Baltic Sea
  average1,080 m3/s (38,000 cu ft/s)
Basin features
  left Nida, Pilica, Bzura, Brda, Wda
  right Dunajec, Wisłoka, San, Wieprz, Narew, Drwęca

The Vistula ( /ˈvɪstjʊlə/ ; Polish : Wisła [ˈviswa] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); German : Weichsel [ˈvaɪksl̩] ), the longest and largest river in Poland, is the 9th-longest river in Europe, at 1,047 kilometres (651 miles) in length. [1] [2] The drainage-basin area of the Vistula is 193,960 km2 (74,890 sq mi), of which 168,868 km2 (65,200 sq mi) lies within Poland (54% of its land area). [3] The remainder lies in Belarus, Ukraine and Slovakia.

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish-language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium and Liechtenstein. It is one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages that are most similar to the German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch, including Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Poland Republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.


The Vistula rises at Barania Góra in the south of Poland, 1,220 meters (4,000 ft) above sea level in the Silesian Beskids (western part of Carpathian Mountains), where it begins with the White Little Vistula (Biała Wisełka) and the Black Little Vistula (Czarna Wisełka). [4] It flows through Poland's biggest cities, including Kraków, Sandomierz, Warsaw, Płock, Włocławek, Toruń, Bydgoszcz, Świecie, Grudziądz, Tczew and Gdańsk. It empties into the Vistula Lagoon (Zalew Wiślany) or directly into the Gdańsk Bay of the Baltic Sea with a delta and several branches (Leniwka, Przekop, Śmiała Wisła, Martwa Wisła, Nogat and Szkarpawa).

Barania Góra mountain

Barania Góra is a mountain in southern Poland. At a height of 1,220 metres (4003 feet), it is the second highest mountain in the Silesian Beskids, and the highest in the Polish part of Upper Silesia.

Silesian Beskids Mountain range in Poland

Silesian Beskids is one of the Beskids mountain ranges in Outer Western Carpathians in southern Silesian Voivodeship, Poland and the eastern Moravian-Silesian Region, Czech Republic.

Carpathian Mountains Mountain range in Central and Eastern Europe

The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Roughly 1,500 km (932 mi) long, it is the third-longest European mountain range after the Urals with 2,500 km (1,553 mi) and the Scandinavian Mountains with 1,700 km (1,056 mi). The range stretches from the far eastern Czech Republic (3%) in the northwest through Slovakia (17%), Poland (10%), Hungary (4%) and Ukraine (10%) Serbia (5%) and Romania (50%) in the southeast. The highest range within the Carpathians is known as the Tatra mountains in Slovakia, where the highest peaks exceed 2,600 m (8,530 ft). The second-highest range is the Southern Carpathians in Romania, where the highest peaks range between 2,500 m (8,202 ft) and 2,550 m (8,366 ft).


The name was first recorded by Pomponius Mela in AD 40 and by Pliny in AD 77 in his Natural History . Mela names the river Vistula (3.33), Pliny uses Vistla (4.81, 4.97, 4.100). The root of the name Vistula is Indo-European *u̯eis- 'to ooze, flow slowly' (cf. Sanskrit अवेषन् (avēṣan) 'they flowed', Old Norse veisa 'slime') and is found in many European rivernames (e.g. Weser, Viesinta). [5] The diminutive endings -ila, -ula, were used in many Indo-European languages, including Latin (see Ursula).

Pomponius Mela geographer

Pomponius Mela, who wrote around AD 43, was the earliest Roman geographer. He was born in Tingentera and died c. AD 45.

Pliny the Elder Roman military commander and writer

Pliny the Elder was a Roman author, a naturalist and natural philosopher, a naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and a friend of emperor Vespasian.

Indo-European languages language family

The Indo-European languages are a language family of several hundred related languages and dialects.

In writing about the Vistula River and its peoples, Ptolemy uses the Greek spelling Ouistoula. Other ancient sources spell it Istula. Ammianus Marcellinus refers to the Bisula (Book 22); note the absence of the -t-. Jordanes (Getica 5 & 17) uses Viscla, while the Anglo-Saxon poem Widsith refers to it as the Wistla. [6] 12th-century Polish chronicler Wincenty Kadłubek Latinised the rivername as Vandalus, a form presumably influenced by Lithuanian vanduõ 'water', while Jan Długosz in his Annales seu cronicae incliti regni Poloniae called the Vistula 'white waters' (Alba aqua), perhaps referring to the White Little Vistula (Biała Wisełka): "a nationibus orientalibus Polonis vicinis, ob aquae candorem Alba aqua ... nominatur."

Ptolemy 2nd-century Greco-Egyptian writer and astronomer

Claudius Ptolemy was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer and astrologer. He lived in the city of Alexandria in the Roman province of Egypt, under the rule of the Roman Empire, had a Latin name, which several historians have taken to imply he was also a Roman citizen, cited Greek philosophers, and used Babylonian observations and Babylonian lunar theory. The 14th-century astronomer Theodore Meliteniotes gave his birthplace as the prominent Greek city Ptolemais Hermiou in the Thebaid. This attestation is quite late, however, and there is no other evidence to confirm or contradict it. He died in Alexandria around AD 168.

"Widsith", also known as The Traveller's Song, is an Old English poem of 143 lines. The poem survives only in the Exeter Book, a manuscript of Old English poetry compiled in the late 10th century containing approximately one-sixth of all surviving Old English poetry. Widsith is located between the poems Vainglory and The Fortunes of Men. Since the donation of the Exeter Book in 1076, it has been housed in Exeter Cathedral in southwest England. The poem is for the most part a survey of the people, kings, and heroes of Europe in the Heroic Age of Northern Europe.

Wincenty Kadłubek Polish bishop

Blessed Wincenty Kadłubek was a Polish Roman Catholic prelate and professed Cistercian who served as the Bishop of Kraków from 1208 until his resignation in 1218. He was also a noted historian and prolific writer. His episcopal mission was to reform the diocesan priests to ensure their holiness and sought to invigorate the faithful and cultivate greater participation in ecclesial affairs on their part.

Over the course of history the river possessed several names in different languages such as Low German : Wießel, Dutch : Wijsel, Yiddish : ווייסלYiddish pronunciation:  [vajsl̩] and Russian : Висла.

Dutch language A West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third-most-widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.


The Vistula river is formed in the southern Silesian Voivodeship of Poland from two sources, the Czarna ("Black") Wisełka at an altitude of 1,107 m (3,632 ft) and the Biała ("White") Wisełka at an altitude of 1,080 m (3,540 ft) [7] on the western slope of Barania Góra in the Silesian Beskids. [8]

Silesian Voivodeship Voivodeship in Poland

Silesian Voivodeship, or Silesia Province, German: Woiwodschaft Schlesien, Czech: Slezské vojvodství) is a voivodeship, or province, in southern Poland, centered on the historic region known as Upper Silesia, with Katowice serving as its capital.


The Vistula can be divided into three parts: upper, from its sources to Sandomierz; center, from Sandomierz to the confluences with the Narew and Bug; and bottom, from the confluence with the Narew to the sea.

The Vistula river basin covers 194,424 square kilometres (75,068 square miles) (in Poland 168,700 square kilometres (65,135 square miles)); its average altitude is 270 metres (886 feet) above sea level. In addition, the majority of its river basin (55%) is 100 to 200 m above sea level; over 34 of the river basin ranges from 100 to 300 metres (328 to 984 feet) in altitude. The highest point of the river basin is at 2,655 metres (8,711 feet) (Gerlach Peak in the Tatra mountains). One of the features of the river basin of the Vistula is its asymmetry—in great measure resulting from the tilting direction of the Central European Lowland toward the northwest, the direction of the flow of glacial waters, and considerable predisposition of its older base. The asymmetry of the river basin (right-hand to left-hand side) is 73–27%.

The most recent glaciation of the Pleistocene epoch, which ended around 10,000 BC, is called the Vistulian glaciation or Weichselian glaciation in regard to north-central Europe. [9]

Major cities and towns along Vistula tributaries

Vistula River
Rzeka Wisla 0004.jpg
Vistula River in the vicinity of Płock, Poland
2017-05-29 Vistula in Krakow 2.jpg
Vistula River flowing through Kraków, Poland
Krakau Wawel Wisla.jpg
Medieval Wawel Castle in Kraków seen from the Vistula river
Sandomierz (js).jpg
Royal Castle in Sandomierz seen from the Vistula river
Polska KazimierzDolny 016.jpg
Renaissance town of Kazimierz Dolny overlooking serene Vistula
Grudziadz Granaries 2009.JPG
Granaries in Grudziądz seen from the left riverside of the Vistula river, 13th–17th century
Wisła (Silesian Voivodeship) river source: Biała Wisełka and Czarna Wisełka
Skoczów Brennica
Strumień Knajka
Czechowice-Dziedzice Biała
Brzeszcze Vistula, Soła
Oświęcim Soła
Zator Skawa
Skawina Skawinka
Kraków (Cracow)Sanka, Rudawa, Prądnik, Dłubnia, Wilga (most are canalized streams)
Nowe Brzesko
Nowy Korczyn Nida
Opatowiec Dunajec
Połaniec Czarna
Baranów Sandomierski Babolówka
Sandomierz Koprzywianka, Trześniówka
Annopol Sanna
Józefów nad Wisłą
Solec nad Wisłą
Kazimierz Dolny Bystra
Puławy Kurówka
Dęblin Wieprz
Wilga Wilga
Góra Kalwaria Czarna
Otwock, Józefów Świder
Konstancin-Jeziorna Jeziorka
Warsaw Żerań canal (incl. several smaller streams)
Modlin Narew
Czerwińsk nad Wisłą
Wyszogród Bzura
Płock Słupianka, Rosica, Brzeźnica, Skrwa Lewa, Skrwa Prawa
Dobrzyń nad Wisłą
Włocławek Zgłowiączka
Nieszawa Mień
Toruń Drwęca, Bacha
Solec Kujawski
Bydgoszcz Brda (canalized)
Świecie Wda
Gniew Wierzyca

Delta of the Vistula River

The river forms a wide delta called the Żuławy Wiślane. The delta currently starts around Biała Góra near Sztum, about 50 km (31 mi) from the mouth, where the river Nogat splits off. The Nogat also starts separately as a river named (on this map [10] ) Alte Nogat (Old Nogat) south of Marienwerder, but further north it picks up water from a crosslink with the Vistula, and becomes a distributary of the Vistula, flowing away northeast into the Vistula Lagoon (Polish: Zalew Wiślany) with a small delta. The Nogat formed part of the border between East Prussia and interwar Poland. The other channel of the Vistula below this point is sometimes called the Leniwka.

Various causes (rain, snow melt, ice jams) have caused many severe floods of the Vistula down the centuries. Land in the area was sometimes depopulated by severe flooding, and later had to be resettled.

See (Figure 7, on page 812 at ) for a reconstruction map of the delta area as it was around year 1300: note much more water in the area, and the west end of the Vistula Lagoon (Frisches Haff) was bigger, and nearly continuous with the Drausen See. [11]

Channel changes

As with some aggrading rivers, the lower Vistula has been subject to channel changing.

Near the sea, the Vistula was diverted sideways by coastal sand as a result of longshore drift and split into an east-flowing branch (the Elbing (Elbląg) Vistula, Elbinger Weichsel, Szkarpawa, flows into the Vistula Lagoon, now for flood control closed to the east with a lock) and a west-flowing branch (the Danzig (Gdańsk) Vistula, Przegalinie branch, reached the sea in Danzig). Until the 14th century, the Elbing Vistula was the bigger.

Nogat Leniwka
Sztum Tczew
Malbork Gdańsk Motława, Radunia, Potok Oliwski in the city the river divides into several separate branches that reach the Baltic Sea at different points, the main branch reaches the sea at Westerplatte
Elbląg Elbląg shortly before reaching Vistula Bay


List of right and left tributaries with a nearby city, from source to mouth:

Right tributaries      Left tributaries

Climate change and the flooding of the Vistula delta

Widespread flooding along the Vistula River in south-eastern Poland Vistula River Flooding, Southeastern Poland.JPG
Widespread flooding along the Vistula River in south-eastern Poland

According to flood studies carried out by Professor Zbigniew Pruszak, who is the co-author of the scientific paper Implications of SLR [12] and further studies carried out by scientists attending Poland's Final International ASTRA Conference, [13] and predictions stated by climate scientists at the climate change pre-summit in Copenhagen, [14] it is highly likely most of the Vistula Delta region (which is below sea level [15] ) will be flooded due to the sea level rise caused by climate change by 2100.

Geological history

The history of the River Vistula and its valley spans over 2 million years. The river is connected to the geological period called the Quaternary, in which distinct cooling of the climate took place. In the last million years, an ice sheet entered the area of Poland eight times, bringing along with it changes of reaches of the river. In warmer periods, when the ice sheet retreated, the Vistula deepened and widened its valley. The river took its present shape within the last 14,000 years, after the complete recession of the Scandinavian ice sheet from the area. At present, along with the Vistula valley, erosion of the banks and collecting of new deposits are still occurring. [16]

As the principal river of Poland, the Vistula is also in the center of Europe. Three principal geographical and geological land masses of the continent meet in its river basin: the lowland Eastern Europe a shield (the area of uplands and low mountains of Western Europe), and the Alpine zone of high mountains to which the Alps and the Carpathians belong. The Vistula begins in the Carpathian mountains. The run and character of the river were shaped by ice sheets flowing down from the Scandinavian peninsula. The last ice sheet entered the area of Poland about 20,000 years ago. During periods of warmer weather, the ancient Vistula, "Pra-Wisła", searched for the shortest way to the sea—thousands of years ago it flowed into the North Sea somewhere at the latitude of contemporary Scotland. The climate of the Vistula valley, its plants, animals, and its very character changed considerably during the process of glacial retreat. [17]

The Vistula is navigable from the Baltic Sea to Bydgoszcz (where the Bydgoszcz Canal joins the river). The Vistula can accommodate modest river vessels of CEMT class II. Farther upstream the river depth lessens. Although a project was undertaken to increase the traffic-carrying capacity of the river upstream of Warsaw by building a number of locks in and around Kraków, this project was not extended further, so that navigability of the Vistula remains limited. The potential of the river would increase considerably if a restoration of the East-West connection via the Narew Bug Mukhovets Pripyat Dnieper waterways were considered. The shifting economic importance of parts of Europe may make this option more likely.

Historical relevance

Vistula valley east (upstream) of Torun Wisla-kolo-Torunia.jpg
Vistula valley east (upstream) of Toruń

Large parts of the Vistula Basin were occupied by the Iron Age Lusatian and Przeworsk cultures in the first millennium BC. Genetic analysis indicates that there has been an unbroken genetic continuity[ clarification needed ] of the inhabitants over the last 3,500 years. [18] The Vistula Basin along with the lands of the Rhine, Danube, Elbe, and Oder came to be called Magna Germania by Roman authors of the 1st century AD. [18] This does not imply that the inhabitants were "Germanic peoples" in the modern sense of the term; Tacitus, when describing the Venethi, Peucini and Fenni, wrote that he was not sure if he should call them Germans, since they had settlements and they fought on foot, or rather Sarmatians since they have some similar customs to them. [19] Ptolemy, in the 2nd century AD, would describe the Vistula as the border between Germania and Sarmatia.

Death of Princess Wanda, by Maksymilian Piotrowski, 1859 Piotrowski Smierc Wandy.jpg
Death of Princess Wanda, by Maksymilian Piotrowski, 1859

The Vistula river used to be connected to the Dnieper River, and thence to the Black Sea via the Augustów Canal, a technological marvel with numerous sluices contributing to its aesthetic appeal. It was the first waterway in Central Europe to provide a direct link between the two major rivers, the Vistula and the Neman. It provided a link with the Black Sea to the south through the Oginski Canal, Dnieper River, Berezina Canal, and Dvina River. The Baltic Sea Vistula Dnieper Black Sea route with its rivers was one of the most ancient trade routes, the Amber Road, on which amber and other items were traded from Northern Europe to Greece, Asia, Egypt, and elsewhere. [20] [21]

A Vistulan stronghold in Wislica once stood here. Wislica grodzisko 20070825 1456.jpg
A Vistulan stronghold in Wiślica once stood here.

The Vistula estuary was settled by Slavs in the 7th and 8th century. [22] Based on archeological and linguistic findings, it has been postulated that these settlers moved northward along the Vistula river. [22] This however contradicts another hypothesis supported by some researchers saying the Veleti moved westward from the Vistula delta. [22]

A number of West Slavic Polish tribes formed small dominions beginning in the 8th century, some of which coalesced later into larger ones. Among the tribes listed in the Bavarian Geographer's 9th-century document was the Vistulans (Wiślanie) in southern Poland. Kraków and Wiślica were their main centers.

Many Polish legends are connected with the Vistula and the beginnings of Polish statehood. One of the most enduring is that about princess Wanda co nie chciała Niemca (who rejected the German). [23] According to the most popular variant, popularized by the 15th-century historian Jan Długosz, [24] Wanda, daughter of King Krak, became queen of the Poles upon her father's death. [23] She refused to marry a German prince Rytigier (Rüdiger), who took offence and invaded Poland, but was repelled. [25] Wanda however committed suicide, drowning in the Vistula river, to ensure he would not invade her country again. [25]

Main trading artery

The 11th century Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec overlooks the Vistula. Tyniec Abbey.jpg
The 11th century Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec overlooks the Vistula.

For hundreds of years the river was one of the main trading arteries of Poland, and the castles that line its banks were highly prized possessions. Salt, timber, grain, and building stone were among goods shipped via that route between the 10th and 13th centuries. [26]

Vistula river near the Duke of Masovia Castle in Czersk Czersk 25.jpg
Vistula river near the Duke of Masovia Castle in Czersk

In the 14th century the lower Vistula was controlled by the Teutonic Knights Order, invited in 1226 by Konrad I of Masovia to help him fight the pagan Prussians on the border of his lands. In 1308 the Teutonic Knights captured the Gdańsk castle and murdered the population. [27] Since then the event is known as the Gdańsk slaughter. The Order had inherited Gniew from Sambor II, thus gaining a foothold on the left bank of the Vistula. [28] Many granaries and storehouses, built in the 14th century, line the banks of the Vistula. [29] In the 15th century the city of Gdańsk gained great importance in the Baltic area as a centre of merchants and trade and as a port city. At this time the surrounding lands were inhabited by Pomeranians, but Gdańsk soon became a starting point for German settlement of the largely fallow Vistulan country. [30]

Before its peak in 1618, trade increased by a factor of 20 from 1491. This factor is evident when looking at the tonnage of grain traded on the river in the key years of: 1491: 14,000; 1537: 23,000; 1563: 150,000; 1618: 310,000. [31]

Vistula river in Warsaw near the end of the 16th century. The right side shows the Sigismund Augustus bridge built 1568-1573 by Erazm Cziotko (c. 500 m (1,600 ft) long). View of Warsaw near the end of the 16th century.jpg
Vistula river in Warsaw near the end of the 16th century. The right side shows the Sigismund Augustus bridge built 1568–1573 by Erazm Cziotko (c. 500 m (1,600 ft) long).

In the 16th century most of the grain exported was leaving Poland through Gdańsk, which because of its location at the end of the Vistula and its tributary waterway and of its Baltic seaport trade role became the wealthiest, most highly developed, and by far the largest center of crafts and manufacturing, and the most autonomous of the Polish cities. [33] Other towns were negatively affected by Gdańsk's near-monopoly in foreign trade. During the reign of Stephen Báthory Poland ruled two main Baltic Sea ports: Gdańsk [34] controlling the Vistula river trade and Riga controlling the Western Dvina trade. Both cities were among the largest in the country. Around 70% the exports from Gdańsk were of grain. [31]

Grain was also the largest export commodity of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The volume of traded grain can be considered a good and well-measured proxy for the economic growth of the Commonwealth.

Vistula river (Vistvla fluvivs) in Torun in 1641 Torun Merian 1641.jpg
Vistula river (Vistvla fluvivs) in Toruń in 1641

The owner of a folwark usually signed a contract with the merchants of Gdańsk, who controlled 80% of this inland trade, to ship the grain to Gdańsk. Many rivers in the Commonwealth were used for shipping, including the Vistula, which had a relatively well-developed infrastructure, with river ports and granaries. Most river shipping traveled north, with southward transport being less profitable, and barges and rafts often being sold off in Gdańsk for lumber.

In order to arrest recurrent flooding on the lower Vistula, the Prussian government in 1889–95 constructed an artificial channel about 12 kilometres (7 miles) east of Gdańsk (German name: Danzig)—known as the Vistula Cut (German: Weichseldurchstich; Polish: Przekop Wisły)—that acted as a huge sluice, diverting much of the Vistula flow directly into the Baltic. As a result, the historic Vistula channel through Gdańsk lost much of its flow and was known thereafter as the Dead Vistula (German: Tote Weichsel; Polish: Martwa Wisła). German states acquired complete control of the region in 1795–1812 (see: Partitions of Poland), as well as during the World Wars, in 1914–1918 and 1939–1945.

Jewish Feast of trumpets (Polish: Swieto trabek
) at the banks of the Vistula, Aleksander Gierymski, 1884 Swieto trabek.jpg
Jewish Feast of trumpets (Polish : Święto trąbek) at the banks of the Vistula, Aleksander Gierymski, 1884

From 1867 to 1917, the Russian tsarist administration called the Kingdom of Poland the Vistula Land after the collapse of the January Uprising (1863–1865). [35]

Almost 75% of the territory of interbellum Poland was drained northward into the Baltic Sea by the Vistula (total area of drainage basin of the Vistula within boundaries of the Second Polish Republic was 180,300 km²), the Niemen (51,600 km²), the Odra (46,700 km²) and the Daugava (10,400 km²).

Kierbedz Bridge over the Vistula in Warsaw (c. 1900). This framework bridge was constructed by Stanislaw Kierbedz in 1850-1864. It was destroyed by the Germans in 1944. Kierbedz Bridge (1900).jpg
Kierbedź Bridge over the Vistula in Warsaw (c. 1900). This framework bridge was constructed by Stanisław Kierbedź in 1850–1864. It was destroyed by the Germans in 1944.
Vistula River in spa town Wisla (1939) just before the Second World War. Wisla Poland 1939 Henryk Poddebski.jpg
Vistula River in spa town Wisła (1939) just before the Second World War.

In 1920 the decisive battle of the Polish–Soviet War Battle of Warsaw (sometimes referred to as the Miracle at the Vistula), was fought as Red Army forces commanded by Mikhail Tukhachevsky approached the Polish capital of Warsaw and nearby Modlin Fortress situated on the mouth of the Vistula.[ citation needed ]

World War II

The Polish September campaign included battles over control of the mouth of the Vistula, and of the city of Gdańsk, close to the river delta. During the Invasion of Poland (1939), after the initial battles in Pomerelia, the remains of the Polish Army of Pomerania withdrew to the southern bank of the Vistula. [37] After defending Toruń for several days, the army withdrew further south under pressure of the overall strained strategic situation, and took part in the main battle of Bzura. [37]

The Auschwitz complex of concentration camps was at the confluence of the Vistula and the Soła rivers. [38] Ashes of murdered Auschwitz victims were dumped into the river. [39]

During World War II prisoners of war from the Nazi Stalag XX-B camp were assigned to cut ice blocks from the River Vistula. The ice would then be transported by truck to the local beer houses.

The 1944 Warsaw Uprising was planned with the expectation that the Soviet forces, who had arrived in the course of their offensive and were waiting on the other side of the Vistula River in full force, would help in the battle for Warsaw. [40] However, the Soviets let down the Poles, stopping their advance at the Vistula and branding the insurgents as criminals in radio broadcasts. [40] [41] [42]

In early 1945, in the Vistula–Oder Offensive, the Red Army crossed the Vistula and drove the German Wehrmacht back past the Oder river in Germany.

See also

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Elbląg Place in Warmian-Masurian, Poland

Elbląg is a city in northern Poland on the eastern edge of the Żuławy region with 120,142 inhabitants. It is the capital of Elbląg County and has been assigned to the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. Previously it was the capital of Elbląg Voivodeship (1975–1998) and a county seat within Gdańsk Voivodeship (1945–1975).

Gdańsk City in Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast. With a population of 466,631, Gdańsk is the capital and largest city of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and one of the most prominent cities within the cultural and geographical region of Kashubia. It is Poland's principal seaport and the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.

Tourism in Poland

Poland is a part of the global tourism market with constantly increasing number of visitors. Tourism in Poland contributes to the country's overall economy. The most popular cities are Kraków, Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdańsk, Poznań, Szczecin, Lublin, Toruń, Zakopane, the Salt Mine in Wieliczka and the historic site of Auschwitz – A German nazi concentration camp in Oświęcim. The best recreational destinations include Poland's Masurian Lake District, Baltic Sea coast, Tatra Mountains, Sudetes and Białowieża Forest. Poland's main tourist offers consist of sightseeing within cities and out-of-town historical monuments, business trips, qualified tourism, agrotourism, mountain hiking (trekking) and climbing among others.

Prussia (region) historical region in Central Europe

Prussia is a historical region in Europe, stretching from Gdańsk Bay to the end of Curonian Spit on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea, and extending inland as far as Masuria. The territory and inhabitants were described by Tacitus in Germania in AD 98, where Suebi, Goths and other Germanic people lived on both sides of the Vistula River, adjacent to the Aesti. About 800 to 900 years later the Aesti were named Old Prussians, who, since 997, repeatedly defended themselves against take-over attempts by the newly created Duchy of the Polans. The territory of the Old Prussians and neighboring Curonians and Livonians was unified politically in the 1230s as the Teutonic Order State. Prussia was politically divided between 1466 and 1772, with western Prussia under protection of the Crown of Poland and eastern Prussia a Polish–Lithuanian fief until 1660. The unity of both parts of Prussia remained preserved by retaining its borders, citizenship and autonomy until western and eastern Prussia were also politically reunited under the German Kingdom of Prussia. It is famous for many lakes, as well as forests and hills. Since the military conquest of the area by the Soviet Army in 1945 and the expulsion of the German-speaking inhabitants it was divided between northern Poland, Russia's Kaliningrad exclave, and southwestern Lithuania. The former German kingdom and later state of Prussia (1701–1947) derived its name from the region.

Sobieszewo Island Gdańsk District in Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Sobieszewo Island is an island on the Baltic sea, between the Gdańsk Bay and the delta of Vistula river. The island is part of the territory of the city of Gdańsk, Poland.

Gdańsk Bay the bay in the Baltic Sea adjoining the port of Gdańsk and stretching to Kaliningrad

Gdansk Bay or the Bay of Gdansk Polish: Zatoka Gdańska; Kashubian: Gduńskô Hôwinga; Russian: Гданьская бухта, Gdan'skaja bukhta, and German: Danziger Bucht) is a southeastern bay of the Baltic Sea. It is named after the adjacent port city of Gdańsk in Poland and is sometimes referred to as the Gulf of Gdańsk.

Nogat river in Poland

The Nogat is a 62 km long delta branch of the Vistula River and does not empty at Gdańsk Bay as the main river does.

History of Gdańsk history of the city in Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Gdańsk is one of the oldest cities in Poland. Founded by the Polish ruler Mieszko I in the 10th century, the city was for a long time part of Piast state either directly or as a fief. In 1308 the city became part of the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights until 1454. Thereafter it became part of Poland again, although with increasing autonomy. A vital naval city for Polish grain trade it attracted people from all over the European continent. The city was taken over by Prussia during the Second Partition of Poland in 1793 and subsequently lost its importance as a trading port. Briefly becoming a free city during Napoleonic wars, it was again Prussian after Napoleon's defeat, and later became part of the newly created German Empire.

Martwa Wisła river in Poland

The Martwa Wisła is a river, one of the branches of the Vistula, flowing through the city of Gdańsk in northern Poland.

Vistula Spit peninsular stretch of land

The Vistula Spit is an aeolian sand spit, or peninsular stretch of land, which separates Vistula Lagoon from Gdańsk Bay in the Baltic Sea, with its tip separated from the mainland by the Strait of Baltiysk. The border between Poland and Kaliningrad Oblast, an exclave of Russia, bisects it, politically dividing the spit in half between the two countries. The westernmost point of Russia is located on the Vistula Spit. The Polish part contains a number of tourist resorts, incorporated administratively as the town of Krynica Morska.

Drużno lake

Drużno is a body of water historically considered a lake in northern Poland on the east side of the Vistula delta, near the city of Elbląg. As it is currently not deep enough to qualify as a lake hydrologically and receives some periodic inflow of sea water from the Vistula Lagoon along the Elbląg River, some suggest that it be termed an estuary reservoir. A village of recent origin also called Drużno is situated near the lake.

Battle of Vistula Lagoon battle

The Battle of Vistula Lagoon was fought on September 15, 1463 between the navy of the Teutonic Order, and the navy of the Prussian Confederation which was allied with the King of Poland, as part of the Thirteen Years' War. The battle was the largest naval battle of the war, and one of the two battles which decided the final outcome of the war.

Malbork Castle castle built in Prussia by the Teutonic Knights

The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork is a 13th-century Teutonic castle and fortress located near the town of Malbork, Poland. It is the largest castle in the world measured by land area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Polish–Swedish War of 1626–1629 was the fourth stage in a series of conflicts between Sweden and Poland fought in the 17th century. It began in 1626 and ended four years later with the Truce of Altmark and later at Stuhmsdorf with the Treaty of Stuhmsdorf.

Żuławy Wiślane

Żuławy Wiślane is the alluvial delta area of Vistula, in the northern part of Poland, in large part reclaimed artificially by means of dykes, pumps, channels and extensive drainage system. Its shape is similar to a reversed triangle formed by branching of Vistula into two separate rivers, Leniwka and Nogat at its height, confined by rivers themselves, and closed by Mierzeja Wiślana at its base. It is a deforested, agricultural plain that covers 1000 square km.

Siege of Danzig (1655–60) siege in 1655–1660, during which Sweden unsuccessfully tried to capture Danzig from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Second Northern War

The Siege of Danzig took place between 1655 and 1660 when a Swedish force tried to capture this important Baltic Sea port city from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Second Northern War. After 5 years of fighting around Danzig (Gdańsk), the Swedish force which has made little ground surrendered.

Geography of Poland

Poland is a country in East-Central Europe with an area of 312,679 square kilometres, and mostly temperate climate. Generally speaking, Poland is an almost unbroken plain reaching from the Baltic Sea in the north, to the Carpathian Mountains in the south. Within that plain, terrain variations run in bands east to west. The Baltic coast has two natural harbors, the larger one in the Gdańsk-Gdynia region, and a smaller one near Szczecin in the far northwest. The northeastern region, also known as the Masurian Lake District with more than 2,000 lakes, is densely wooded and sparsely populated. To the south of the lake district, and across central Poland a vast region of plains extends all the way to the Sudetes on the Czech and Slovak borders southwest, and to the Carpathians on the Czech, Slovak and Ukrainian borders southeast. The central lowlands had been formed by glacial erosion in the Pleistocene ice age. The neighboring countries are Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine and Belarus to the east, and Lithuania and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad to the northeast.

Vistula Lagoon fresh water lagoon on the Baltic Sea

The Vistula Lagoon is a brackish water lagoon on the Baltic Sea roughly 56 miles (90 km) long, 6 to 15 miles wide, and up to 17 feet deep, separated from Gdańsk Bay by the Vistula Spit. It is now known as the Vistula Bay or Vistula Gulf. The modern German name, Frisches Haff, is derived from an earlier form, Friesisches Haff.

Zantyr Ruined castle in Poland

Zantyr is a lost Teutonic Order castle with established commandry and town with cathedral, seat of the bishopric. In early 13th century it was located at present day Pomeranian Voivodeship, in Sztum County, in in the municipality of Sztum, south of the village Uśnice or in the region Biała Góra at the confluence of the rivers Nogat and Vistula. Here, at the southern end of the Vistula delta region, resides the Nogat River Protected Landscape Area. During it brief history Zantyr was contested between Swietopelk II, Duke of Pomerania, State of the Teutonic Order and Bishopric of Pomesania. At the end around year 1280 castle and town were reestablished at new location and became known as Malbork Castle.


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