Slapy Dam

Commenced in 1949, the Slapy Dam was the first “socialist construction”. However, serious plans and ideas of constructing dams in the Vltava river date back to the early 1920’s A dam near Vrané nad Vltavou built in 1930 - 1936 became the first step of the Vltava Cascade. The Štěchovice and Slapy dams were to come next. The Štěchovice dam was initially planned to be a compensatory reservoir of the Slapy dam and both dams were referred to as the two Štěchovice dam levels in the documents. The location for the construction of the Slapy dam was, however, originally planned to be in an entirely different place. The original location was on river kilometre 151 which corresponds to today’s Nová Rabyně resort. In 1928 - 1929, a detailed geological survey was carried out in this location. In 1930 - 1932, a new road was built leading from the Buš village (on the left bank) and the Stromeč village (on the right bank) to the Vltava river intended to serve as access to the construction site of the dam and which was supposed to cross the crown of the dam after its completion. Nowadays, the road leads from Neveklov to the Nová Rabyně resort and from Buš to the golf course, continuing in the direction of Skalice. A railroad from the railroad station of Davle bound for Přestavlky was designed for the transport of construction material. A survey and measuring of this railroad even began in summer 1930. Due to the economic crisis and unfavourable outcomes of the geological survey, the construction of the Slapy dam was held off. The construction of the Štěchovice dam was started only in autumn 1937.It was filled up in 1943 and over several upcoming years, finalization work was in progress, chiefly in the lock chambers and pumped storage plant. Due to the break out of the war, the construction of the Slapy dam was postponed yet again. Only in 1948, a new geological survey was carried out in another location near the Třebenice village and the construction of the Slapy dam was started according to a design of Ing. Záruba in 1949.

The construction site of the dam was rather difficult to access. It was located in a deep rocky canyon without any access road. First of all, a base for the construction workers and construction equipment had to be built up. A housing estate which was to accommodate the workers, offices and other necessary operations started to rise on a plain above the Vltava river near the Třebenice village. Similarly, a housing estate which was to accommodate workers was set up in a plain above the Vltava river in the location of today’s Nová Rabyně resort (today’s buildings of the Nová Rabyně hotel). A new access road leading from the Slapy village to the construction site was built on the slopes of the left bank of the Vltava river. However, the supply of the construction material was tricky. Two freight funiculars leading to the Třebenice village were built. One of them was leading from a nearby quarry in the Teletín village and served to transport quality construction stone. The other one was leading from the train stop of Luka pod Medníkem; from there, construction material was transported to the Třebenice construction site. To protect the construction site, two smaller construction embankments were constructed in the bed of the Vltava river. To divert the flow of the river, a diversion tunnel was dug out in the rock on the right bank where the Vltava river would run over a few upcoming years; its outfall can still be seen on the slope of the right bank under the dam. A gradual filling of the dam started in 1954.Nevertheless, due to heavy rains in Southern Bohemia and consequential floods, it took only a few days to fill the dam. By that time, the dam was not finished entirely; the deck, some of the seals of the spillways and other technologies were still missing. In spite of that, the water spilled over the crown of the dam and for several days, it rushed over the spillways. The dam was put to the proof then for the first time - and it passed the test. Due to lack of space in the vicinity of the dam, the power plant facility was placed on an unusual spot, right under the spillways in the body of the dam. It is a unique solution, but a tricky one too; when the spillways of the dam are in use, water leaks into the hall of the power plant. No locks were planned to be constructed in the dam (unlike in the Vrané and Štěchovice dams) making the freight and passenger water transport impossible; up to now, all the boats have to stop under the dam. The construction was fully completed in 1955, when also the test operations of the power plant began. In the following year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management issued permanent operation permit.

By filling up the dam, a magnificent valley with several hamlets, numerous secluded dwellings and picturesque retreats disappeared under water. Right behind the wall of the dam, also the Upper Rapid along with the Saddle Rock over which a hefty sandstone column used to tower (a memorial to making the Vltava river navigable) disappeared under the waters of the reservoir. The Upper Rapid with the rock and column used to mark the beginning of Saint John’s Currents - rapids that would stretch from here through the deep valley as far as Štěchovice. The Upper Rapid used to be the most massive rapid where water would gush over a rocky shelf of the Saddle Rock which, in this very spot, used to reach into the middle of the river. Since 1643, a several metres tall sandstone column also known as the Ferdinand’s Column used to stand on top of the Saddle Rock. . Until 1918, there was a metal Austrian spread eagle on the top of it. The column was erected to commemorate the completion of a vast modification of the riverbed aimed at increasing the safety of navigating the Saint John’s Currents. This work was initiated and organized by Kryšpín Fuk, a Strahov abbot, residing in a manor in the nearby Hradištko village. In 1722, on the occasion of beatification of Saint Jan Nepomucký, a stone statue was placed next to the Saddle Rock. Since then, this part of the river has been called Saint John’s Currents. In 1890, the statue had to be restored due to its poor condition, but it had to be replaced completely by a new statue in 1908. During the construction of the dam, the column was removed from the rock and along with Saint John’s statue it was transferred to a new location under the embankment. They can still be seen there.

Route and transport to the site

Walking (approx. 6 km):

From the starting point, you will have to make your way to the Slapy village square. Take the red-marked hiking trail in the direction of Rovínek. Going by the magic spring, you will reach the Rovínek Chapel. From here, continue on the red-marked hiking trail ascending moderately up to the road leading from Slapy to Třebenice. Here, leave the red-marked hiking trail and go to the right on the road. After some 2 kilometres, you will come directly to the dam. If you would like to see the dam also from the valley, you will have to continue in the direction of the Třebenice village and join the green-marked hiking trail in the car park at the restaurant to descend into the valley. A forest stairway will guide you down to the road leading to the power plant. You will go by Saint John Nepomucký’s statue and after a few tens of metres you will get right below the dam where the original Ferdinand’s column stands on a rock, transferred to this place along with Saint John’s statue from the area liable to flooding. Every average hiker can do this walk. Please keep in mind that part of the walk leads on a fairly busy road.

Cycling (approx. 6 km):

Same as the car route. Every average cyclist can do this trip.

By car (approx. 6 km):

If you want to go by car to the dam, you will have to get to the Slapy village to a crossroads at the transport café and then turn right in the direction of the dam and Nová Rabyně. The road will lead you right to the dam after a few kilometres. You can park your car on the side of the road heading to the Třebenice village. If you want to see the dam from the valley, you will have to park your car directly in the Třebenice village in a car park at a restaurant and follow the green-marked hiking trail towards the river. A forest stairway will guide you down to the road leading to the power plant. You will go by Saint John Nepomucký’s statue and after a few tens of metres you will get right below the dam where the original Ferdinand’s column stands on a rock, transferred to this place along with Saint John’s statue from the area liable to flooding. Anyone can do this trip.

GPS coordinates - 49°49'25.295"N, 14°26'2.63"E


Map No. 38 / B5, KČT (Czech Tourist Club) series

Mapa 09

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