The Krkonoše or Karkonosze are a mountain range located in the north of the Czech Republic and the south-west of Poland, part of the Sudetes mountain system (part of the Bohemian Massif). The Czech-Polish border, which divides the historic regions of Bohemia and Silesia, runs along the main ridge. The highest peak, Sn?žka (Polish: ?nie?ka, German: Schneekoppe), is the Czech Republic’s highest point with an elevation of 1,602 metres (5,256 ft).
On both sides of the border, large areas of the mountains are designated national parks (the Krkonoše National Park in the Czech Republic and the Karkonosze National Park in Poland), and these together constitute a cross-border biosphere reserve under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme. The River Elbe springs within the Krkonoše. The range has a number of major ski resorts, and is a popular destination for tourists engaging in downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, cycling and other activities.
Typical for the Krkonoše are its numerous mountain huts, which are called bouda in Czech and Baude in German. Both names are derived from the Middle High German word Buode, which means booth or building. The Polish name is schronisko. Most of the time they were either called after the location or its constructor and first occupant. The latter however often changed after the expulsion, when several mountain huts especially on the now Polish side received new names. Entire colonies of mountain huts were called after the families who lived there. They are located in the higher parts or the ridge of the Krkonoše and were used by shepherds as wooden refuges in the summer. After 1800, some of the mountain huts became interesting for the first hikers, and towards the end of the 19th Century many were converted into hostels. Later, these huts were often expanded to host a larger number of guests. Known historical mountain huts include Lu?ní bouda (Wiesenbaude), Martinova bouda (Martinsbaude) and Vosecká bouda(Wosseckerbaude) in the Czech Republic and Schronisko Strzecha Akademicka (Hampelbaude), Schronisko Samotnia (Teichbaude) and Schronisko na Hali Szrenickiej (Neue Schlesische Baude) in Poland. In other places, the old mountain huts were replaced by newer buildings which were specially built for tourism purposes. Those huts from the 20th Century include Petrova bouda (Peterbaude) or the hut on top of mount Sn?žka-?nie?ka.
The Krkonoše also offer numerous very impressive rock formations, such as Dív?í kameny-?l?skie Kamienie and Mužské kameny-Czeskie Kamienie above 1400 m on the main ridge, Harrachovy kameny on the Czech side or Pielgrzymy and S?onecznik in Poland. These weathered blocks of granite form high towers which often resemble on humans or animals and reach heights up to 30 meters. Similar formations can be found in other parts of the Sudetes.
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