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Śnieżka z zachodu.jpg
Sněžka, the highest peak of Sudetes
Highest point
Peak Sněžka
Elevation 1,603 m (5,259 ft)
Coordinates 50°44′10″N 15°44′24″E / 50.73611°N 15.74000°E / 50.73611; 15.74000
Length 300 km (190 mi)
Divisions of the Sudetes
Countries Poland, Czech Republic and Germany
Range coordinates 50°30′N 16°00′E / 50.5°N 16°E / 50.5; 16Coordinates: 50°30′N 16°00′E / 50.5°N 16°E / 50.5; 16
Orogeny Variscan orogeny
Refuge Samotnia in the Krkonoše
Hala Izerska (Polish Pole of Cold) in the Jizera Mountains
A view from Zygmuntówka refuge, Góry Sowie
"Hell" on Szczeliniec Wielki, Table Mountains

The Sudetes /sˈdtz/ are a mountain range in Central Europe. They are also known as the Sudeten after their German name and Sudety in Czech and Polish.

The range stretches from eastern Germany (West Lusatian Hill Country and Uplands) by Tripoint to south-western Poland and to northern Czech Republic. The highest peak of the range is Sněžka (Polish: Śnieżka) in the Krkonoše (Polish: Karkonosze) mountains on the Czech Republic–Poland border, which is 1,603 metres (5,259 ft) in elevation. The current geomorphological unit in the Czech part of the mountain range is Krkonošsko-jesenická subprovincie ("Krkonoše-Jeseníky"). It is separated from the Carpathian Mountains by the Moravian Gate.

The Krkonoše Mountains (also called the Giant Mountains) have experienced growing tourism for winter sports during the past ten years. Their skiing resorts are becoming a budget alternative to the Alps.


The name Sudetes is derived from Sudeti montes, a Latinization of the name Soudeta ore used in the Geographia by the Greco-Roman writer Ptolemy (Book 2, Chapter 10) c. AD 150 for a range of mountains in Germania in the general region of the modern Czech republic.

There is no consensus about which mountains he meant, and he could for example have intended the Ore Mountains, joining the modern Sudetes to their west, or even (according to Schütte) the Bohemian Forest (although this is normally considered to be equivalent to Ptolemy's Gabreta forest.[1] The modern Sudetes are probably Ptolemy's Askiburgion mountains.[2]

Ptolemy wrote "Σούδητα" in Greek, which is a neuter plural. Latin mons, however, is a masculine, hence Sudeti. The Latin version, and the modern geographical identification, is likely to be a scholastic innovation, as it is not attested in classical Latin literature. The meaning of the name is not known. In one hypothetical derivation, it means Mountains of Wild Boars, relying on Indo-European *su-, "pig". A better etymology perhaps is from Latin sudis, plural sudes, "spines", which can be used of spiny fish or spiny terrain.


The Sudetes are usually divided into:

High Sudetes (Polish: Wysokie Sudety, Czech: Vysoké Sudety, German: Hohe Sudeten) is together name for the Krkonoše, Hrubý Jeseník and Śnieżnik mountain ranges. The Sudetes also comprise larger basins like the Jelenia Góra and the Kłodzko Valley.


The igneous and metamorphic rocks of the Sudetes originated during the Variscan orogeny and its aftermath.[3] Plate tectonic movements during the Variscan orogeny assembled together four major and two to three lesser tectonostratigraphic terranes. Ophiolites, MORB-basalts, blueschists and eclogites occur in-between terranes.[4] Following the main phase of deformation of the orogeny large granitic plutons intruded the crust. Today these plutons make up about 15% of the Sudetes.[3]

The Sudetes is made up of a series of massifs that are rectangular and rhomboid in plan view.[5] These mountains corresponds to horsts and domes separated by basins, including grabens.[6] The mountains took their present form after the Late Mesozoic retreat of the seas from the area which left the Sudetes subject to denudation for at least 65 million years. During this period the climate cooled due to the northward drift of Europe. The collision between Africa and Europe has resulted in the deformation and uplift of the Sudetes.[5] As such the uplift is related to the contemporary rise of the Alps.[5] Uplift was accomplished by the creation or reactivation of numerous faults leading to a reshaping of the relief renewed erosion.[3] During the Cenozoic weathering led to the formation of an etchplain developed in parts of Sudetes. While this etchplain has been eroded various landforms and weathering mantles have been suggested to attest its former existence.[3] At present the mountain range shows a remarkable diversity of landforms.[5] Some of the landforms present are escarpments, inselbergs, bornhardts, granitic domes, tors, flared slopes and weathering pits.[3]


The exact location of the Sudetes has varied over the centuries. The ancient Sudeti meant at least the northwest frontier of today's Czech Republic, probably extending to the north. By implication, it was part of the vast Hercynian Forest belt mentioned by several authors of the antiquity.

In the Middle Ages German colonists were invited by the Piast dukes of Silesia and the Přemyslid kings of Bohemia to settle in the previously Slavic areas[citation needed] for agricultural and urban development in the course of the Ostsiedlung (German eastward expansion) migration.

Sudetes and "Sudetenland"[edit]

After World War I the name Sudetenland came into use to describe areas of the First Czechoslovak Republic with large ethnic German populations. In 1918 the short-lived rump state of German-Austria proclaimed a Province of the Sudetenland in northern Moravia and Austrian Silesia around the city of Opava (Troppau).

The term was used in a wider sense when on 1 October 1933 Konrad Henlein founded the Sudeten German Party and in Nazi German parlance Sudetendeutsche (Sudeten Germans) referred to all indigenous ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia. They were heavily clustered in the entire mountainous periphery of Czechoslovakia—not only in the former Moravian Provinz Sudetenland but also along the northwestern Bohemian borderlands with German Lower Silesia, Saxony and Bavaria, in an area formerly called German Bohemia. In total the German minority population of pre-World War II Czechoslovakia numbered around 20% of the total national population.

Sparking a "Sudeten Crisis", Hitler got his future enemies to concede the Sudetenland with most of the Czechoslovak border fortifications in the 1938 Munich Agreement, leaving the remainder of Czechoslovakia shorn of its natural borders and buffer zone, finally occupied by Germany in March 1939. After being annexed by Nazi Germany, much of the region was redesignated as the Reichsgau Sudetenland.

After World War II, most of the German population within the Polish and Czechoslovak Sudetes was forcibly expelled on the basis of the Potsdam Agreement and the Beneš decrees. A considerable proportion of the Czechoslovak populace thereafter strongly objected to the use of the term Sudety. In the Czech Republic the designation Krkonošsko-jesenická subprovincie is used officially and in maps etc. usually only the discrete Czech names for the individual mountain ranges (e.g. Krkonoše) appear, as under Subdivisions above.


The nearest international airport is in Wrocław - Copernicus Airport Wrocław.

In the Sudetes there are many spa towns with sanatoria. In many places the developed tourist base - hotels, guest houses, ski infrastructure.

Notable towns[edit]

Notable towns in this area include:

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schütte, Ptolemy's maps of northern Europe, a reconstruction of the prototype, p. 141 
  2. ^ Schütte, Ptolemy's maps of northern Europe, a reconstruction of the prototype, p. 56 
  3. ^ a b c d e Migoń, Piotr (1996). "Evolution of granite landscapes in the Sudetes (Central Europe): some problems of interpretation". Proceedings of the Geologists' Association. 107: 25–37. doi:10.1016/s0016-7878(96)80065-4. 
  4. ^ Mazur, S.; Aleksandrowski, P. (2002). "Collage tectonics in the northeasternmost part of the Variscan Belt: the Sudetes, Bohemian Massif". Geological Society, London, Special Publications. 201: 237–277. 
  5. ^ a b c d Migoń, Piotr (2011). "Geomorphic Diversity of the Sudetes - Effects of the structure and global change superimposed". Geographia Polonica. 2: 93–105. 
  6. ^ Migoń, Piotr (1997). "Tertiary etchsurfaces in the Sudetes Mountains, SW Poland: a contribution to the preQuaternary morphology of Central Europe". In Widdowson, M. Palaeosurfaces: Recognition, Reconstruction and Palaeoenvironmental Interpretation. Geological Society Special Publication. London: The Geological Society. 

External links[edit]