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Dnieper Rapids

The Dnieper Rapids (Ukrainian: Дніпрові пороги, Dniprovi porohy) are the historic rapids on the Dnieper river composed of outcrops of granites, gneisses and other types of bedrock of the Ukrainian Shield. The rapids began below the present-day city of Dnipro where the river turns to the south, and dropped 50 meters in 66 kilometers, ending before the present-day city of Zaporizhia (whose name literally means beyond the rapids).

There were nine major rapids along this path (although some sources give a smaller number) which almost totally obstructed the river for navigation. Also, there were about 30-40 smaller rapids and 60 islands and islets.

After the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station was built in 1932, they were inundated by the Dnieper Reservoir.

Historic mentionsEdit

The Dnieper Rapids were part of the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks first mentioned in the Primary Chronicle. The route was probably established in the late eighth and early ninth centuries and gained significant importance from the tenth until the first third of the eleventh century. On the Dnieper the Varangians had to portage their ships round seven rapids, where they had to be on guard for Pecheneg nomads.

The existence of the rapids was mentioned in Emperor Constantine VII's work De Administrando Imperio[1] and in The Tale of Igor's Campaign.

Names of the major rapidsEdit

In Ukrainian tradition, there were 9 major rapids (given in the direction of the river flow as shown in the picture on the right):[2][3]

  1. Kodatsky (Ukrainian: Кодацький поріг). The Kodak Fortress formerly stood near this rapid.
  2. Sursky (Ukrainian: Сурський поріг). Almost all the rocks of this rapid were submerged in shallow water.
  3. Lohansk (Ukrainian: Лоханський поріг)
  4. Dzvonesky (Ukrainian: Дзвонецький поріг)
  5. Nenasytec (Ukrainian: Ненаситецький поріг або Ненаситець, Insatiable) or Revučy (Ukrainian: Ревучий, Roaring), the biggest and most dangerous of the Dnieper Rapids, called Hell by the locals, 2.4 km long and over 1 km wide. Its roaring could be heard several kilometers away.
  6. Vovnyzky (Ukrainian: Вовнизький поріг)
  7. Budylo (Ukrainian: Будильський поріг)
  8. Lyshny (Ukrainian: Лишній поріг, superfluous). This name is most likely due to the fact that it was the least dangerous, posing almost no problems for navigation
  9. Vil'ny (Ukrainian: Вільний поріг, free)

Names given in transcription from the Ukrainian language.

Correspondence of some of the names from different historic sources is seen in the table below:

Slavonic and Norse names of the Dnieper rapids, with translations,[4] and Constantine’s Greek spelling
Modern (Russian) Slavonic Norse
Ne sǔpi, ‘Don't Sleep’ (Εσσουπη) Sof eigi, ‘Don't Sleep’
2. Surskij, ‘Severe One’;

3. Lochanskij

Ostrovǐnyj pragǔ, ‘Island-waterfall’ (Οστροβουνιπραχ) Holmfors, ‘Island-Waterfall’ (Ουλβορσι)
4. Zvonets(kij), ‘Clanger’ Gellandi, ‘Roaring’ (Γελανδρι)
5. Nenasytets(kij), ‘Insatiable’ Nejasytǐ, ‘pelican (which nested there)’ (Νεασητ) Eyforr, ‘ever violent’ (Αειφορ)
6. Volnyj, Volninskij, ‘[place] of waves’ Vlǔnǐnyj pragǔ, ‘wave-waterfall’ (Βουλνηπραχ) Bárufors, ‘wave-waterfall’ (Βαρουφορος)
7. Tavolzhanskij Vǐruchi, ‘laughing (ref. to noise of water)’ (Βερουτζη) Hlæjandi, ‘laughing’ (Λεαντι)
8. Lishnij, ‘superfluous’ Naprjazi?, ‘bend, strain?’ (Ναπρεζη); Na bǔrzǔ?, ‘quick?’ Strukum, ‘[at the] rapids’ (Στρουκουν)


  1. ^ An English translation of De Administrando Imperio.
  2. ^ Яворницький Д.І. Дніпрові пороги:Альбом фотогр. з географічно-історич. нарисом — Харків: Перша друкарня держ. видавництва України, 1928. — С. 41.(in Ukrainian)
  3. ^ Омельченко Г. М. Спогади лоцмана порогів Дніпрових.- Дніпропетровськ: Січ, 1998.(in Ukrainian)
  4. ^ pp 172-174, "Russian and the Slavonic Languages", by W.J.Entwistle and A.Morison, publ. Faber & Faber, 1949 & 1969.

Coordinates: 48°11′00″N 35°11′20″E / 48.18333°N 35.18889°E / 48.18333; 35.18889