Vistula at Warsaw’s doorstep

Autor: dr hab. Joanna Angiel    

Vistula in the Warsaw region has different types of watercourses (see: Vistula Valley and its elements) depending on whether the river in a given section had been regulated and how, or if it had not been regulated.

In this place, where you are, at Warsaw’s doorstep, where the Vistula has not yet been regulated and narrowed, squeezed into the so-called girdle, you can see it as a river that flows through a wide watercourse, creating numerous sandbanks, islets, and divisions separating watercourses into many braided forks of the current. This type of watercourse is characteristic for some sections of mountain rivers, but is exceptional for low-lying and especially large rivers in Central and Western Europe. Inhabitants of those countries envy us, where their rivers have been regulated and managed in such a way that they have often become concrete canals.

The Vistula is beautiful and picturesque because its riverbed has such varied shapes, due to swamp areas, shallowing and deepening of the watercourse, and the presence of sandbanks and islands. Also, the section you see in front of you has become a varied and rich habitat. Inaccessible islets preserved by plants as well as sandbanks coming to the surface at low tide are areas for nesting and foraging for food by numerous bird species and other animals, which are frightened away by humans. The Vistula in this section can be considered to be truly “sacred”.

This type of watercourse, particularly at low tide, is quite a challenge for tourists using these waters, such as yachtsmen, canoeists and rowers, who have to know how to “read” the Vistula (see: Reading the Vistula – reading water) and maneuver among the low water levels appropriately. In these sections the river becomes inaccessible to bigger and more deeply submerged vessels, such as ships, barges, etc.

The project ‘Protecting the habitats of priority bird species of the Vistula Valley under conditions of intensive pressure of the Warsaw agglomeration’ ( has received a grant from the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE+) and from the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.