"An engaging, evocative work..." — Kirkus Reviews

Into the Carpathians:

Into the Carpathains Part 1 cover

A Journey Through the Heart and History of Central and Eastern Europe

(Part 1: The Eastern Mountains)

IPPY Bronze Medal IPPY Bronze Medal NGIA Finalist Medal
Into the Carpathains Part 2 cover


A Journey Through the Heart and History of East Central Europe

(Part 2: The Western Mountains)

NGIA 2021 Finalist Medal

By Alan E. Sparks, author of Dreaming of Wolves: Adventures in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania.

Click a photo to further explore Into the Carpathians

Travelogue extraordinaire...

Join the author and his companions on an intriguing adventure through the Carpathian and Sudety Mountains of Central and Eastern Europe and deeply experience this profoundly beautiful, wild, storied, and influential landscape:

Romania flag In Romania
(Part 1)
  • The diverse parade of peoples who have sought sustenance, plunder, power, peace, and bounty in the Transylvanian highlands.
  • The ancient Kingdom of Dacia, eastern rival of Rome, and its holistic-healing deity Zalmoxis.
  • The ancient Carpi tribe: Daunting harassers of empire who disappeared into the misty mountains leaving little but their namesake.
  • The invasion of the Huns and Attila's reign of terror from his base in the Carpathian Basin.
  • The Almas Cave: Transylvanian fortress and destination of the Pied Piper.
  • Medieval guardians of Carpathian passes for the Kingdom of Hungary: Saxons, Széklers, Vlachs (Romanians), and Teutonic Knights.
  • The roots of the Unitarian Church in Transylvania.
  • A brief natural history of Carpathian wolves.
  • A brief unnatural history of Carpathian werewolves.
  • The influence of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
  • The enduring Wooden Churches of Maramureş, UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • The foundations of the Greek Catholic Church in Eastern Europe: Bridge across the Great Schism.
  • Legends of magic and treasure inspired by The Feast of Saint George.
Ukraine flag In Ukraine
(Part 1)
  • Modern politics in Ukraine: The Orange Revolution.
  • A brief history of Transcarpathia, Ukraine’s free-spirited mountain province.
  • The colorful and rambunctious Carpatho-Rusyns: in this, Part 1, the Hutsuls and Boykos.
  • The frolicking magic of Ivan Kupala Day.
  • The birth of the Indo-European family of languages east of the Carpathians.
  • Early cultures of the Ukrainian Carpathians and the rapid expansion of the early Slavic people along the forested slopes.
  • The semi-mythical foundations of Kievan Rus’: Viking-led progenitor of Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.
  • The legacy of Ukraine’s national poet, Taras Shevchenko.
  • The cool and majestic Beechwood forests of the Carpathians, UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Medieval woodland strongholds: centers of security, trade, and cults, and the seeds of cities.
  • Wolf tales of the Ukrainian Carpathians.
  • The alluring and erotic rusalki: dangerous sirens of rivers, lakes, and bogs.
  • Murder by starvation: The horrors of the Holodomor.
  • The Slavic thunder-god Perun and the multifarious deities, sprites, and spirits of Slavic mythology.

Slovakia flag In Slovakia
(Part 2)
  • The invasion of the Avars and the start of the European "Dark Ages".
  • The rise and fall of the Great Moravian Empire.
  • The arrival of the Magyars (Hungarians).
  • The White Croats: mystery tribe of the Carpathians.
  • The Lemkos and Rusnaks: the westernmost Carpatho-Rusyns.
  • Spiritual whiplash in the Carpathians.
  • The formation of Czechoslovakia, the formation of the First Slovak Republic, and the Battle of Dukla Pass.
  • The Wooden Churches of Slovakia, UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • The magnificent remains and the history of Spiš Castle.
  • The reign of the Neanderthals in the Slovak Carpathians.
  • The reign of the Celts in the Slovak Carpathians.
  • The reign of the Quadi in the Slovak Carpathians and the "Rain Miracle" of Marcus Aurelius.
  • The large carnivores of Slovakia.
Poland flag In Poland
(Part 2)
  • The reign of the Celtic Boii in Poland.
  • The rise of the “People of the Fields” and the foundations of the Polish state.
  • A brief history of the szlachta (the Polish nobility) and the Polish monarchy.
  • The four amazing resurrections of Poland.
  • The rise and fall of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: a “Republic of Nobles” and pioneer of liberal democracy.
  • The devastating "Deluge" of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
  • The Polish Winged Hussars: the most feared cavalry in Early Modern Europe.
  • A brief history of Silesia, Poland's southwestern frontier.
  • A brief history of Galicia, Poland's southeastern frontier.
  • A visit to Babia Góra: The Witches' Mountain.
  • The large carnivores of Poland.
  • The traditional Goral highlanders of the Polish Carpathians.
  • The deportation of Lemkos from the Carpathian Mountain region of Poland after World War II.
  • Kłodzko Land: Frequent bone of contention.
  • The baffling Projekt Riese under the Owl Mountains of Silesia.
  • The Bóbr River basin: A land of conflict and coexistence.

Czech flag In Czechia
(Part 2)
  • The rise of the Czechs and the foundation of the Bohemian state.
  • The large carnivores of the Czech Republic.
  • Crayfish Valley: Haunting vale of the Sudety.
  • A brief history of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown.
  • A brief history of the Bohemian Reformation: the first major storm of reform within Western Christianity.