With the foothills on one side and the mountain of Štrbský štít at 2,385 metres above sea level on the other, the region consists of the municipality of Štrba and its two parts, the villages of Štrbské Pleso and Tatranská Štrba.
Štrba is situated in the southern foothills of the High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry). Even though it is not quite clear where its name came from, it seems to be tied to its location – a crevice (štrbina) between the mountain ranges of the High Tatras and the Low Tatras (Nízke Tatry). The fact that the main European watershed runs through Štrba is also worth mentioning. The Váh River flows to the Black Sea, while the Poprad River flows to the Baltic Sea.
Passing through Štrba, make sure to pause for a while and take in the unique panoramic views of the High Tatras in the north and the ridge of the Low Tatras in the south. It is a must mentioned by many travel guides. The first Slovak guide to the High Tatras was written by a local teacher, Miloš Janoška (1884–1963), who was very passionate about the surrounding natural beauty. Located on a trade route between Eastern Slovakia, Poland, Silesia, Moravia and Bohemia, Štrba was thriving in the past. Its craftsmen made a good living by trading their products.
Štrba lends its name to many places in the region: the peaks of Štrbský štít and Štrbské Solisko, the hilly area of Štrbská pahorkatina, the ridge of Štrbský chrbát, and the villages of Tatranská Štrba and Štrbské Pleso.
Tatranská Štrba used to be a small holiday village. Its boom came in 1970 when the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships took place in the High Tatras. Today, the village is a modern and vibrant place that keeps on growing.
At 1,346 metres above sea level, Štrbské Pleso is the highest village in the High Tatras. It is very popular with tourists who fall in love with the enchanting atmosphere of the pristine mountain lake and the range’s sky-slicing peaks in the background. Štrbské Pleso is also part of Tatra National Park.
In the past, Štrbské Pleso used to be part of the municipality of Štrba. However, following World War II, most of the foothill villages were merged into a town of Vysoké Tatry in 1949.
But not everyone liked it. From 1990, Štrba had seeked to return things to their pre-war state. By the decision of Slovakia’s Supreme Court in 2007, Štrbské Pleso was returned to Štrba. This popular holiday centre became part of the municipality again.
Nové Štrbské Pleso (New Strbske Lake) is the High Tatras’ last village that was founded before World War I. It was an idea of Karol Móry (1846–1921), an architect from Banská Bystrica. He created an artificial lake south-east from the village of Štrbské Pleso. In 1905, the first hotel – Móry Hotel was built on its shore. People originally called the growing village “Móry’s village”. The reason for Karol Móry to create a new holiday village was his critique of skyrocketing accommodation prices in Štrbské Pleso. And even though his lake could not compete with the lake of Štrbské pleso in terms of its size and attractiveness, he managed to create an increasingly popular picturesque holiday hideaway.
In 1872, Jozef Szentiváni had a hunting lodge built at the lake of Štrbské pleso and named it Jozef’s Lodge. Three years later, a cozy lodging house grew up nearby. It became very popular with hikers and helped a completely new holiday village to be put on the map – Štrbské Pleso. For the village to be successful, adding the High Tatras’ section of the Košicko-Bohumínská Railway in 1871 was crucial. Štrbské Pleso suddenly became easily accessible. However, the existing accommodation was not fancy enough for an increasingly demanding clientele and it became clear that new facilities needed to be added. Hotel Štrbské Pleso and Turistický dům, both built and decorated in Swiss style, played a key role in the new development. By the end of the 19th century, the number of lodging houses and hotels reached 15. The famous Grandhotel Štrbské Pleso was completed in 1906. Thanks to its great location and climate, it became a well-known treatment centre for people suffering from respiratory problems. In 1896, Štrbské Pleso was connected with Štrba by a steam rack railway, a well-liked attraction of all today’s visitors. You can also get to Štrbské Pleso in comfort of an electric railway.
There is no question that the most prominent feature of the village of Štrbské Pleso is the moraine glacial lake – Štrbské pleso (Štrbské Lake). It is 20 metres deep, 640 metres long and 600 metres wide, iced over for 155 days a year on average. Did you know that its frozen surface witnessed the 1925 Ice Hockey World Championships?
Walk around the lake or rent a boat to immerse yourself into the unmistakable atmosphere of the place and take in the well-known amazing views of the High Tatras’ peaks. The tradition of boating on the lake goes back a long time, over 130 years. And the rack railway has its indispensable place in the Štrbské Pleso history as well. It has been bringing passengers from Tatranská Štrba since 1896.
Not only is Štrbské Pleso ideal for leisurely strolls around the lake, it is also a starting point of many hikes and climbs. Countless recreational, as well as professional sportsmen love to come here.
Apart from hiking and climbing, downhill skiing is also established here. In 1970, Štrbské Pleso hosted the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. A new sports area was built in readiness for the event, as well as additional accommodation and dining facilities.
It does not matter whether you are enjoying the atmosphere of Štrbské Pleso on a hiking trail, cross-country skiing trail, or on the slopes. Always keep in mind that you are in Tatra National Park and that its landscape, flora and fauna have been admired and treasured by generations. Please help us preserve this natural heritage.
As the world around us keeps evolving and changing, we have learned to appreciate places where we can enjoy nature at its best and be totally immersed in it. The High Tatras are one of these places. Let’s work together to make sure they never change.