The historical names of the Tatry — the northern mountains Carpathes

1. Source [1]. Origine of the name Tatry, northern range of the Carpathes

The mountain range Tatry is the highest and northern range of the Carpaths.

In this document, we will focus on the toponymy, or mre precisely to the oronymy of this range.The origin of this names is very interesting while strating at the beginning of the XIth century.

To discover some landscapes of the Tatry ranges, please click on the map of Slovakia, the words «Vysoké Tatry», «Nizké Tatry» et «Biélanské Tatry».

The oldest mention of the Tatry range is mythical. In the Enéïde ofe Virgilo, two Trojan brothers are called Tiras et Teutras. If Tiras is obviously the neme of the Dniestr river, then this name could be associated with Teutras, which is the mountain range from which the Greeks and Romans thought this river had its spring.

The next reference appears during the Roman Empire era of the IInd century AD. The mountains are called «Montes nivium» meaning the snowy mountains. One have to remeber that the legions of Marcus-Aurelius (ca 180) have fought the Barbarians tribes far beyond the Donau (Danuvius) and reached the Carpaths.

Around 675, some Byzantium documents mention these far-way mountains as Karpathos.

The first known mention of the Mounts Tatry whick looks like the current word appears in 1086 under the reign of the geman Emperor Henry III in a document of the Praha and Moravia Bishop through the words Trytri, Tritri ou Triti.

In the writing of the Czech chronicer Kosmas (ca 1125) appears the name Tritri sometimes written Triti.

Béla IV (1206 -1270)

Documents written during the King of Hungaria Béla IV(1206 -1270) called this northern part of the Carpaths Tarczal or Tatur while the , un chronicer monk of the beginning of the XIIIème siècle who write the «Gesta Homgarorum» i.e. The Strory of the Hungarians, is refering to the mountains Trytur

In Hungarian sources of the XIIème au XIVème siècle appears the names Turtur, Turtul, Tortol, or Tarczal.

On some maps is mentionned the city of Tarcza and the river Tarczal who flows into the river Hernad.


At the end of the XIIIème century, a legend coming from this mountain range says that a group of Tatars have been petrified into rocks by a holy man through lightnings. The warriors would have been change into rocks and mountains : The Tatry mounts. This legend is a symbolical interpretation of the sedendarisation (petrification) and the Christianisation (holy man) of «Tatars» tribes. The most rationale explanation is than a Cuman clan took refuge in these montains after the defeat of the Hungarian Army and his allied against the Mongol Army , near the Sajo river in 1241.

It is interesting to notice that it is also the «Fire of Heaven» or lightnings which in the Book of the revelation stop the people of Gog and Magog, peoples and tribes which where always associated with the people of the Step. These are also the peoples whoch were emprisonned by Alexander the Grat beyond the «Iron gates» also called the «Alexander call».

On top of that, in Genesis X 2-4, Gog is mentionned as the brother of Tiras.

In the iconography, this «Holy Fire of Heaven» is being represented by a double bar Cross on the top of the Tatry Mountains. The «forme pattée» of the branches of this Cross stands for the lightnings falling down of the Cuman army.

Through this channel between Earth and Heaven, this double Cross is thus the Axis Mundi, le World Pilar and de facto, the Tatry Mounts are the Holy Mount, the Polaris Mount on which is erected the World Pilar.

The «Holy Fire of Heaven»on the Tatry Montains

It is interesting to note that numerous mythologies make an association between lighningd and thunder with divinities who have a Bull as attribut.

For example Zeus who transform frequently himself in a Bull shape is the master of the Rain (Symbol of Fecondity as the Bull), thows the lighnings (Symbol of Feconditu as the Bull) and rolls the Thunder signe de fécondité (Howling of the Bull). He is also the ruler of high mountains and peaks. However the ideogram or tamga of Asian people whic represents the Bull really looks like the Doble Cross.

Le tamga du Bovide

This Doble Cross could also be associated with the du Labrys, double axe minoean which represent the lightnings.

Thor, scandinavian gog throws his magic hammer Mjollnir to cast the lightnings, as well as Indra,indian god of the fire use the Vajra.It is interesteing to notice that these two weapons always go back to their master and that they are also reprsented by a cross shape….




The Bible is talking about Holy Men also able to throw the lightnings such as the prophet Elie au at Mont carmel and the aposthes James and John called by our Lord Jesus-Christ «Boanerges» , aword meaning «the sons of the Thunder» The legend of the Holy Man throwing lightning and transforming the Tartary tribes in Tatry mounts strictly follows the prvious mythic and esoteric line.

During the Communist era of Slovakia,the lightnings iconography was reconsidered in order to remove the symbol of the Cross : Simple flammes (issued from lightnings) were however kept on the arms.

The «Holy Fire of Heaven»on the Tatry Montains

In 1255 a Polish documents mentiones the mounts Tatry

It is interesting to note that the word Tartary, Tartry, Tatry formally appears after 1241.

In 1549, Gregorius Werners (1497-1567) publish »De admirandis Hungariae aquis hypomnemation», a famous book in which the word Tatri is mentionned.

In 1546, the word Schneperg i.e «Schneeberg» is written in the Wegier Map of Wolfgang Lazius.

In 1560 the words Tatri Montes are also written of a Central Europe Map drawn by the Perugin Ignazio Danti (1537-1586). The same words Tatri Montes are mentionned in the Polonia Mapa from Waclaw Grodecki and drawn in 1579.

Polonia Mapa

The same group of words is also used by Frolich David (ca 1639) in its masterpeace «Medulla geographiae practicae». In this book, it is precised that this mountains ranges is called Tatry by the Slavs et Schee-Geburg by the Germans.

In 1688, the words Montes Carpates is used by Fabius Antonius Colloredo, in its Spisza Map (Spiz County), map extracted from its «Parvus Atlas Hungariae»

In 1709, on the Regni Hungariae map from Johanna Christ. Müllera, one can see the words Carpathici Montes.

In 1760, we may found again the Tatri Montes in amap from the Franciscan Franciszka Floriana Czakiego.

In 1778, a publication make a refernce to the latin Tatur and to the Hungarian word Tatra. On the maps, one can found the word Krapacks

In the XIXth century, beside the word Carpathes which come frome the Carpii tribes, one can find Monts Bastarniques coming from the Bastarnes (germanic tribes) while Montes Tartaricum, Monts Tartares,Tartarische Geburg or Tatarskie Gory is related to the Tartar population.

Number of scientists have done a lot of work to find out the origine of the name Tatry. Dr Szontagh think this work is a distorsion of the old Slavic word Tathor which means «Father of the Mountains».

Sydow’s therory says that the origin of theis word is the Tatra peak. In fact a mount Tatry (2565 m) exists , in german TatraSpïtze. This Tatry Peak is located between the Risy Peak (2499 m) and the Gerlashowsky Peak (2663 m) in the High tatry range. This Tatry peak in nowadays called Vysoka.

The Tatry Peak

Stupnicki thinks that this word is coming from the Tartars

Other people think that this word comes for the old Slovak word Trtri meaning rocks…..


Our own conclusion is that this mountains range at the beginning was called with autochtons words like Tritri or Triti meaning at the origin rocks, cliffs or steep mountains, but that this word moves onto Tartary, Tartry, Tatry due to the settlement in 1241 of one or a couple of Cumans clans (Kuns or Polovtse) in this mountains range.

Following a well-known rule, an osmosis occured between the original name of these mountains on the nickname of Tatars given by the autochtons to the Cumans new dwellers. This word evolution was then dispatched in all the written documens (books or maps) created after tis settlement.

Reference: Encyklopedii Tatrzanskiej, 1973


2. Other Source [2]: Nicolae  Densuşanu, Prehistoric  Dacia, 1913, translated by Alexandra Ioana Furdui, 2005

Below a very interesting text dealing about the word TATRY and its connections with the vocable TARTAR

All these attributes of Saturn were interpreted by antique theology as representing the god of maturity and perfection.

According to the doctrines of Pelasgian theology, Saturn represented in the prehistoric epoch not only the personification of the divine power of the Sky, but he was also venerated as a telluric divinity, as the lord of the underground world. In this quality, Saturn had with the Romans the honorific title Deus Manus (C.I.L.VIII.2.9326; Servius, V.A.X.198), and Manes (Appuleius, De deo Socr.), while under the name of Mania was meant the feminine divinity of the other world (Macrobius, Saturn I. 7; Varro, L.L.IX. 61) [2].

[2. The Pelasgians of Asia Minor (Lydiens) had also preserved the memory of an ancient king of theirs, called Manes, son of Jove (meaning Uranos) and Gaea (Dionysius Halicarn. I. 27). But this Manes was the same as Saturn, who had ruled not only in Europe, but also over a part of western Asia, as well as in the northern lands of Africa].

Finally, Manes were the spirits of the deceased, whose dwellings were underground, in the empire of Saturn (Cicero, De Legibus II.9).

The epithet of Manus given to the Pelasgian divinity of Saturn, had initially no other meaning than “big” (TN – mare), attribute of his particular dignity and power, as a sovereign god.

With Hesiod (Theog. 459), Kronos or Saturn is called megas, and in Latin inscriptions magnus. Megas and magnus were the only titles of majesty of prehistoric antiquity.

While Saturn, as divinity of the lower world, had the name of Manus with the Romans, with the Greeks he appears in this quality with the epithet Tartaros (Pindar, Olymp. II. 77).

The term Tartaros appears in Greek literature as an exotic, barbarian name, exactly as the residence of Saturn, Kronou turdis, was outside the horizon of the Greek world (Homer, Iliad, VIII. v. 479).

From its primitive meaning the word Tartaros was identical with the archaic Latin “tata” (in folk Latin language, Varro, Non. 81. 5), Greek pater (TN – father). The labial p in the Aeolian dialect often changed with t. Tartaros was therefore only a simple northern dialectal form of the word pater, pater or tata, title of honor and respect given in antiquity to the creator father of the gods and of mankind. (The interspersing of r in the middle is due to the tendency of assimilating the first syllable with the last, in order to give a more energetic, and at the same time a more mysterious character to this honorific title. In the language of the Osci, the god Mamers, or Mars, was also called Marma and Marmar, Mamor and Marmor (C.I.L.I.p.9-10).

Saturn was also venerated by the Gauls as a telluric divinity, under the name of Teutates (Lucanius, Phars. I. 444; Dionysius Halic. I. c. 38), which is the same word as the Latin tata, the Greek tata, tetta and the Lituanian tetis, tetatis.

With Homer (Hymn. in Apoll. v. 335) and Hesiod (Theog. v. 851) the names of Tartaros and Kronos are identical. And with Valerius Flaccus (Argonaut. IV. 258-260), the supreme lord of the other world appears under the name of Pater Tartarus, although both these words had in the beginning the same origin and meaning, from a historical and philological point of view.

Finally, as Suetonius tells us (Oct. Augustus, c. 70), in a certain part of Rome Apollo was venerated under the name of Tortor, a form evidently altered from the archaic Tartarus.

We have examined here, based on the old religious doctrines, the primitive origin and meaning of the word Tartar-os, because this name belongs to the prehistoric domain of Dacia. Various mountain peaks in the Romanian countries, from the river Siret to Biharia, and from Biharia to the lands of Moravia, bear even today the names of Tatal, Tatar, Tatra.

The origin of these orographic names is neither familiar, nor ethnic. It has nothing to do with personal names of some ancient owners of the mountains. They are only obscure remains of a primitive cult, when the lofty peaks of the Carpathians were consecrated to the supreme divinity of the universe, called “Tatal” (TN – Father) [3].

[3. Such are the following names found on the principal summits of the Carpathians: Tatarul mare and Tatarul mic at the sources of the river Buzeu; Tatarul, mountain southwards of Porcesci in Fagaras district; Tatareu, mountain southwards of Paring, and another high mountain northeast of Paring; Tatal, the peak of the mountain Olanul in Mehedinti d istrict; Tatoia, mountain in Banat near the frontier; Cracu Tatar in Banat, westwards of Cracu Tutila; Tartaroiu or Tartaroia in Bihor county; Tataruka, Tatulski grou and Tatulska, mountains in Maramures district, southeast of Brustura village; Tartarka and Tatarka in Bucovina, north of Chirli-Baba, and another peak south of this village is called Omul (the Man); Tatar-havas, northeast of Gyergyo-Ditro in Transilvania; Totrus, river which flows from Transilvania to Moldova through the Ghimes pass. It is certain that the mountain where this river had its sources, had once the same name. And south of the pass of Ghimes there is the peak called in Hungarian Apa-havas, meaning the mountain of the father; Pliny (III. 20.7) and Tacitus (Hist. III. 9) mention a Tartarus fluvius, which flew from the Alps into the Pad.

In the county Zips in Hungary the highest peak of the Carpathians is called Tatry or Tatra. The same mountain was called in the Middle Ages Tatur (Anonymus Belae Regis notarius, c. XVIII). Other two high peaks in the county Turocz and Lyptau have the names of Fatra. (from the German Vater)].

In the whole of Italy, as Dionysius of Halikarnassus (I. 34) tells us, the heights of the mountains and promontories had been dedicated to Saturn. And a Kronion oros was at Olympia in the Peloponnesus (Pausanias, VI. 20.1; Ptol. III. 14.15; Pindar, Olymp. VIII. 17). Also, in the lands of Germany, various mountain peaks have even today the names of Altvater and Grossvater (Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, I. 153). In a more remote time, the term tater also appears to have been applied to some consecrated mountains of Germany.

In German mythology tatermann means idol, demonic spirit, and an old dictionary explains this word by alpinus (Grimm, D. M. I. 470).

In the beginning therefore, the term of Tartar-os appears in the northern parts of the Pelasgian territory, especially in Dacia, as a cosmogenic title of the supreme divinity.

Later though, the authority of the word Tartaros diminished, after Saturn was deposed and Jove was accepted as the absolute ruler of the Greek world and the head of its religion.

Greek theology applied then this archaic name of the northern Pelasgians, exclusively to the divinity of the lower world, to the mountains and subterranean caves (Homer, Iliad, VIII. 13; Ibid. Hymn in Merc. V. 256; Hesiod, Theog. v. 740; Plato, Phaedo. I. p.88), where, according to legends, Jove had imprisoned Saturn and the Titans, his supporters (Homer, Iliad, VIII. 479; XIV. 203.275; Hesiod, Theog. v.851; Stephanus Byz. v. Tartaros) [4]. 


3. Next Source [3]: the Hungarian  site about the origin and meaning of the word TATRY and its possible origins.


A Tátra története

Nevének eredete


A hegység nevének eredetével kapcsolatban többféle vélekedés látott napvilágot.
Eloször 675-ben, a görög Karpathos elnevezésként találkozhatunk a hegyvonulatra történo utalással. A következo utalás a római idokbol származik, amikor Montes nivium, vagyis Havas-hegység néven jelölték. A IV. Béla korából fennmaradt elso magyar oklevelek Tarczal vagy Tatur néven említik, míg a magát «a néhai Béla király» jegyzojeként aposztrofáló Névtelen (Anonymus) Gesta Hungarorum (A magyarok cselekedetei) c., 1210 körül megjelent, a honfoglalás regényes históriáját közreadó muvében Trytur néven említi az ország e részét, míg a késobbi Szepességet Zepus néven jelöli. Kosmas cseh krónikás 1125-bol származó, kézzel írott muvében Tritri vagy Tryti néven szerepel.
A XII-XIV. század között kelt magyar források Turtur, Turtul, Tortol, Tarczal elnevezéseket használnak, míg egy 1255-bol fennmaradt lengyel okirat mai nevén, Tatry név alatt említi a hegységet.
Georgius Wernher (1497-1567) német származású lengyel tudós és költo 1549-ben kiadott De admirandis Hungariae aquis hypomnemation c. munkájában találkozunk eloször a Tatri elnevezéssel. Ezt a névhasználatot erosíti meg Frölich Dávid 1639-ben megjelent Medulla geographiae practicae c. muve, amelybol megtudhatjuk, hogy a hegységet a szláv népek Tatry-nak, a szepességi németek pedig Schnee-Gebürg-nek hívták.

Egy 1778-ban megjelent latin nyelvu kiadvány Tatur, magyarul Tátra néven említi a hegységet.
Sok tudósnak fáradtságos munkával sikerült felkutatnia a hegység elnevezésének eredetét, de a fenti kutatásokon kívül más, esetenként megmosolyogtató vélekedések is napvilágot láttak a XX. század korai turistairodalmában.

Dr. Szontagh a régi szláv Tathor szóval hozza összefüggésbe, amelynek jelentése: a hegyek atyja. Ugyanakkor azt is megemlíti, hogy Sydow a Tátra-csúcstól származtatja, míg Stupnicki a tatároktól vezeti le a Tátra nevet. Más források szlovák eredetunek tüntetik fel a Tátra nevet, amely az osszláv Trtri (szikla, omladék) szó mai változata.


Next Source [4].

I. Comitatuum Hungariae Origo.

Pannonia et Dacia, Romanis Imperatoribus, loca munita ac municipalia, per partes singulas, obtinuerant plurima. Hunni, Gothi, Longobardi, Gepidae, Abares, Franci, Slaui Marahanenses, Bulgari, Valachi, dominium sortiti, illa non solum conseruauerant, sed, vt nominum etyma produnt, auxerunt quoque. Hungari certe, terris his conquisitis, 4et arces et municipia repererant numerosa: qualia sunt: Ungh, Borsua, Zemlin, Bihor, Zothmar, Castrum Salis, Gumur, Geur, Neugrad, Egur, Pesth, Zolnuk, Nitria, Trenchin, Bana, Galgocz, Blundus, Presburg, Etzilburg, Wesprem, Sabaria, Castrum ferreum, Zala, Wolko, Posega, Zagrab etc. quae apud Belae regis Notarium laudantur.

Hungari, consilio sapienti, eiusmodi loca eraserant nequaquam, sed munierant, multiplicarunt quoque: conditis castris Munkás, Hymus Udvor, Borsod, Patak, Komarom, Bars, Zabolcs, Sárvár, Csungrad, Alba etc.: „Tarzal, per gratiam Arpad Ducis, ad radicem montis cognominis, vbi Budrugh descendit in Tysciam, aquisiuit magnam terram, et in eodem loco castrum construxit terreum, quod nunc in presenti Hymusudwor nuncupatur.“ Idem cap. XVII. „Et dum ita radicati essent, tunc communi consilio et amonitione omnium incolarum, missus est Borsu, filius Bunger, cum valida manu, versus terram Polonorum, qui confinia regni construeret, et obstaculis firmaret, vsque ad montem Tatur, et in loco conuenienti castrum construeret, causa custodiae regni. Borsu vero, accepta licentia, egressus felici fortuna, collecta multitudine rusticorum, intra fluuium Buldwa castrum construxit, quod vocatum est a populo illo Borsod, eo quod paruum fuerit.“ Ibid. cap. XVIII.

Tractibus terrarum, arcibus, ac locis municipalibus ad pertinentibus, nomem fuerat apud indigenas, sedes, Stolicza, Szék; eorum vero praefectis, Comes, Duka etc. „Hungari ad castrum Ungh equitarunt, cuius tunc Comes Loborczi vocabatur, in lingua eorum (Valachorum) Duca.“ l. c. cap. XIII. Districtibus eiusmodi nostrates, a metis, quibus 5cingebantur, nomen indiderant Mege (Megye): Colom. Decr. lib. I. cap. 37; Praefectis vero Comitis (Ispán) reliquerant; taliterque singulis, idiomate vulgari a castris Vármegye, a Comitibus vero Comitatus vocabula adnata sunt: „Dux vero Arpad, pro benefacto Borsum, in castro eodem Borsod Comitem constituit, et totam curam illius partis ipsi condonauit.“ l. c. cap. XVIII. Item: „Ibi etiam (ad Emeud) dedit Dux Arpad Bunger-nek, Patri Borsu, terram magnam a fluuio Tupulcza vsque ad fluuium Soyu, qui nunc vocatur Miscouczy, et dedit ei castrum, quod dicitur Geuru (Dios Gyõr) et illud castrum filius eius Borsu, cum castro suo, quod dicitur Borsod, vnum fecit Comitatum.“ Ibid. cap. XXXI. „Dux Arpad Hubam fecit Comitem Nitriensem et aliorum castrorum, et dedit illi terram propriam iuxta fluuium Zsitua vsque siluam Tursoc.“ Ibid. cap. XXXVIII.[1]

[1] Ex his liquet, Primores nostros vsitata Comitis ac Comitatus nomina adoptasse, dupplicesue discreuisse Comitatus; ad castra regia et particularium appertinentias; priores fuerant prouinciales, praefecturarumque regalium sedes, vti Borsod, Nitrien. etc.; aliae priuatae certarum familiarum proprietates, vti Borsod-Geur (vulgo: Borsod Gyõr) Hymesudvor etc. Priuatorum castrorum districtus Comitatibus, in quibus siti fuerant, prouincialibus accensebantur, non item dominio regali. Discrimen hoc ignorasse Kollarius, et Prayus Kovachichio inique arguuntur; haud ignorarunt, dum de prouincialibus, vulgo parochianis, duxerunt disserendum.



  1. Origine of the name Tatry, northern range of the Carpathes
  2. Nicolae Densuşanu, Prehistoric Dacia, pdf
  3. Hungarian TORTENET site
  4. A Magyar Országos Levéltár adatbázisai