Dnieper Rapids

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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 basement rocks of the Ukrainian Shield. The rapids began below present-day Dnipropetrovsk where the river turns south and fell 50 meters in 66 kilometers, ending before present-day Zaporizhia (its name literally means beyond the rapids).

Along this middle flow of the Dnieper, there were nine major rapids (although some sources cite a fewer number of them), obstructing almost the whole width of the river, about 30-40 smaller rapids, obstructing only part of the river, and about 60 islands and islets.

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

Historic mentions

Dnieper Rapids were part of 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.

Rapids existence 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, 9 major rapids were (in the direction of the river flow, as shown in the picture on the right):[2][3]

  1. Kodatsky (Ukrainian: Кодацький поріг) - near this rapid Kodak Fortress once stood;
  2. Sursky (Ukrainian: Сурський поріг) - it had almost all rocks in shallow underwater
  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 the baddest of all the Dnieper rapids, called by locals hell, 2.4 km in length and over 1 km in width. Its roaring could be heard from several kilometers away.
  6. Vovnyzky (Ukrainian: Вовнизький поріг)
  7. Budylo (Ukrainian: Будильський поріг)
  8. Lyshny (Ukrainian: Лишній поріг, superfluous) - most likely called this because it was the least dangerous, posing almost no problems for navigation
  9. Vil'ny (Ukrainian: Вільний поріг, free)

Names given in the transcription from 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’
Surskij, ‘Severe One’; Lochanskij Ostrovǐnyj pragǔ, ‘Island-waterfall’ (Οστροβουνιπραχ) Holmfors, ‘Island-Waterfall’ (Ουλβορσι)
Zvonets(kij), ‘Clanger’ Gellandi, ‘Roaring’ (Γελανδρι)
Nenasytets(kij), ‘Insatiable’ Nejasytǐ, ‘pelican (which nested there)’ (Νεασητ) Eyforr, ‘ever violent’ (Αειφορ)
Volnyj, Volninskij, ‘[place] of waves’ Vlǔnǐnyj pragǔ, ‘wave-waterfall’ (Βουλνηπραχ) Bárufors, ‘wave-waterfall’ (Βαρουφορος)
Tavolzhanskij Vǐruchi, ‘laughing (ref. to noise of water)’ (Βερουτζη) Hlæjandi, ‘laughing’ (Λεαντι)
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.