SK, West Tatras – Žiarska Cottage
Today we move from the High Tatras to Western Tatras where we visit Žiarska valley where popular Žiarska Cottage is located (1324 meters above the sea level). This position is a great starting point for any trek to the regions of Braníkov and Barance.
Žiarska Cottage has an all-year access and you can get there easily. From Žiar, the Liptovský Mikuláš district, there is a blue tourist path along which is an asphalt road leading right to the cottage. A tourist path is not difficult, its elevation is moderate and it ends in Žiarska valley. A walk to the cottage via this road will take you about one and half hour.
A beautiful walk across Žiarska valley crossed by the Smrečianka River will lead you to the cottage itself. There you can buy some refreshments, souvenirs or your children can play at a playground. The cottage has, indeed, a very interesting history. It is closely related to and surprisingly influenced by nature Only few meters from the cottage there is a memorial place devoted to theWestern Tatras victims. Avalanches have been the greatest threat of this fabulous valley. In case you like contracts you shouldn’t postpone a trip there. Beautiful, always green Žiarska valley where are the Šafran Falls located are only 15 minutes of walk from Žiarska Cottage. This creates a contrast to Smutná valley (only 2 hours from Žiarska Cottage via a blue path), which is dry, deserted and seems like there is no life at all. There are, indeed, many such contrasts but now we are going to take a look at the history of the cottage.
Žiarska Cottage began its story in the year 1939 when its construction began and in the same year it had been already opened to the public. Suddenly it was one of the most modern cottages in Slovakia. There was a hostel with 20 beds on the ground floor and 10 rooms with 30 beds in upper floors. Also there was a large dinning room, warm and cold water and it was lit with oil lamps. Thanks to easy accessibility it soon became very popular among tourists. Also famous personas visited it such as Dominik Tatarka, a writer,, Alfons Bednár, a Slovak novelist, orFedor Klimáček, a painter. During the second world war it was an asylum for people and partisans sought after the Slovakian National Uprising began. However, this was the end for the cottage since during a strong offensive of the Wehrmacht, partisans were forced to leave the cottage and left it to Germans. Ti ji obsadili, vydrancovali a podpálili. Zůstaly jen ohořelé základy.
Fortunately, during the years 1946 – 1947, constructions were resumed as a program for cottages renovation ordered. Two years later, the cottage operated only as a workers’ accommodation. Žiarska Cottage began opening to the public when a cottager arrived there. In the year 2006, the cottage was not up to date, thus it was completely demolished and a whole new cottage was built instead.
A new Žiarska Cottage gives its visitors complete accommodation services. It is whole-year opened with only exception during maintenance. The cottage is opened also during the time of serious avalanche threat. Except the winter months, guests are allowed to get there by a car right in front of the cottage.
The power of nature shouldn’t be underestimated as the cottage experienced in March 2009 when a hundred years avalanche had fallen into Žiarská valley. It changed the character of “green” valley for a long time as it destroyed hectares of forests and trees. Mechanical tear of the avalanche reached 2 to 3 kilometers and a drift was one kilometer. A chain reaction caused another seven to eight avalanches going fast one after another. It was a miracle that Žiarska Cottage survived without almost any damage. But this isn’t the cause of the AlpinaMountain Rescue cottage. A chimney of the building had been damaged as well as windows and roof. This megaavalanche caused Žiarska valley was not accessible for several months however, snow from the avalanche visitors could see for next several months.
Žiarská Cottage is a real gem among other alpine cottages. Its strategic location is an ideal starting point for climbs to near peaks of the Western Tatras and it is also a great start or finish for treks to crystal clear lakes. Careful tourists can also see there small and large inhabitants of Tatran valleys.
Text and photo: Oskar Mažgút
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