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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » June 3, 2014
Book review
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Tatra Atlantis: A Lost World
June 3, 2014   
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Tatra Atlantis (Tatrzańska Atlantyda), a lavishly illustrated coffee-table book, provides an insight into the past of the Tatra Mountains in southern Poland, uncovering a fascinating, lost world.

The book, published May 7 by the Tatra Mountains National Park and the Tatra Museum in Zakopane, is a two-language publication with texts in Polish and English. Tatra Atlantis was written by Piotr Mazik, a history graduate of the Jagiellonian University and a Tatra tourist guide.

To the average Pole, a visit to the Tatras and Zakopane, the main local town, means a walk down the popular Krupówki promenade, a hiking trip to a hostel by the Morskie Oko lake, a cable car ride to Kasprowy Wierch mountain or a bite of oscypek sheep’s cheese at the top of the Gubałówka mountain. The author goes beyond this stereotype of Zakopane as a place populated by fun-seeking tourists, reminding his readers that the town is part of Poland’s cultural heritage and that many decades ago it was a favorite haunt of bohemian artists.

The book is an homage to the first explorers of the Tatra Mountains, mountain rescue pioneers and other prominent figures in the history of the mountains and Zakopane. It also introduces readers to many picturesque sites they may not even know exist.

Most photographs in the book come from the vaults of the Tatra Museum and this is the first time many of them have been shown to the general public.

Tatra Atlantis revisits places that used to be landmarks on maps of the Tatra region and that are no longer there. The photographs take readers to long-forgotten mountain trails that passed near trendy prewar hostels, famous bathing sites and vintage chairlifts. Once popular, prosperous and frequented by crowds of vacationers, all of those old tourist attractions are long gone and many are being reclaimed by the wildlife of the Tatras.

Sites which are out of reach for the average tourist and long-forgotten scenes shown in the photographs depict a lost world that until now was only known to the most dedicated Tatra enthusiasts.
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