Dnieper Rapids

Rapids on the Dnieper river in Ukraine
Dnieper Rapids

The Dnieper Rapids (Ukrainian: Дніпрові пороги, Dniprovi porohy) are the historical rapids on the Dnieper river in Ukraine, 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 Zaporizhzhia (whose name literally means "beyond the rapids"). There were nine major rapids (some sources give a smaller number), about 30–40 smaller rapids and 60 islands and islets. The rapids almost totally obstructed navigation of the river.

After the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station was built at Zaporizhzhia in 1932, the rapids were inundated by the Dnieper Reservoir.

Historical mentions

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 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 rapids

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. Kodatskyi porih (Ukrainian: Кодацький поріг). The Kodak Fortress formerly stood near this rapid.
  2. Surskyi porih (Ukrainian: Сурський поріг). Almost all the rocks of this rapid were submerged in shallow water.
  3. Lokhanskyi porih (Ukrainian: Лоханський поріг)
  4. Dzvonetskyi porih (Ukrainian: Дзвонецький поріг)
  5. Nenasytetskyi porih, or Nenasytets (Ukrainian: Ненаситецький поріг, Ненаситець, lit.'Insatiable' ) or Revuchyi (Ukrainian: Ревучий, lit.'Roaring' ), the biggest and most dangerous of the rapids, called Peklo (Ukrainian: Пекло, lit.'Hell' ) by the locals, 2.4 km long and over 1 km wide. Its roaring could be heard several kilometers away.
  6. Vovnyzkyi porih (Ukrainian: Вовнизький поріг)
  7. Budylskyi porih (Ukrainian: Будильський поріг)
  8. Lyshnii porih (Ukrainian: Лишній поріг, superfluous). This name is most likely because it was the least dangerous, posing almost no problems for navigation.
  9. Vilnyi porih (Ukrainian: Вільний поріг, free)

Names given in transcription from the Ukrainian language.

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

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

3. Lochans’kyj porih

Ostrovĭnyj pragŭ, ‘Island-waterfall’ (Οστροβουνιπραχ) Holmfors, ‘Island-Waterfall’ (Ουλβορσι)
4. Dzvonets’(kyj) porih, ‘Clanger’ Gellandi, ‘Roaring’ (Γελανδρι)
5. Nenasytets’(kyj) porih, ‘Insatiable’ Nejasytĭ, ‘pelican (which nested there)’ (Νεασητ) Eyforr, ‘ever violent’ (Αειφορ)
6. Vovnyz’kyj porih, ‘[place] of waves’ Vlŭnĭnyj pragŭ, ‘wave-waterfall’ (Βουλνηπραχ) Bárufors, ‘wave-waterfall’ (Βαρουφορος)
7. Tavolžans’ka zabora, Tavolžans’kyi porih Vĭruči, ‘laughing (ref. to noise of water)’ (Βερουτζη) Hlæjandi, ‘laughing’ (Λεαντι)
8. Lyshnij porih, ‘superfluous’ Naprjazi?, ‘bend, strain?’ (Ναπρεζη); Na bŭrzŭ?, ‘quick?’ Strukum, ‘[at the] rapids’ (Στρουκουν)


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dnieper Rapids.
  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. ^ Russian and the Slavonic Languages, by W. J. Entwistle and A. Morison, publ. Faber & Faber, 1949 & 1969. pp. 172–174.
Black Sea
BugDanubeDnieper (Rapids)
SanSea of AzovSouthern BugSyvash
Authority control Edit this at Wikidata
National libraries
  • Ukraine
  • Israel
  • United States
  • Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine

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