The Danube River is the longest river in Europe, running almost 1,800 miles from the Black Forest to the Black Sea – it flows by eleven countries. My husband Tom and I traversed its route from Regensburg and Passau (last weeks’ post) through the lovely Wachau Valley, and cruised from Vienna to Budapest (then we take the train back to Vienna – more pictures coming in the weeks to come). Because of canals, the North Sea (at the port of Rotterdam ) is now connected via the Rhine, the Main and the Danube Rivers to the Black Sea.
Once a northern border of the Roman Empire – called the Danubius (in German it is the Donau) – it was also the northern border of the Ottoman Empire for centuries. Its location made it important from earliest times and its beauty makes it one of the most romantic rivers in the world. The river attracted the Vikings and the Romans the Mongols and the Turks and has been center player in European history on through the Hapsburg Dynasty to the present.
The Old Stone Bridge (Steinerne Brücke)was built 1135-1145 during the early centuries of the Holy Roman Empire and was the only crossing of the Danube for 800 yrs. The Crusaders used it to cross the mighty river on their way to the Holy Land.
The building attached to the gate is the “Salt store.” Regensburg’s monopoly on salt made it rich during the Middle Ages.
The Holy Roman Empire (HRE) was a huge amalgamation of territories in central Europe that developed (900’s) during the Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806. Bavaria was part of this Empire (which my history teacher liked to point out was neither holy nor Roman) of which Charlemagne was the most famous emperor. The Hohenstaufens and the later the Hapsburgs were both HRE rulers; the Hapsburgs later became the Austro- Hungarian Empire (Marie-Theresa (1772-1807), her daughter Marie-Antoinette and Archduke Ferdinand were all Hapsburgs) .
Below the lovely town on Passau on the Danube near the southern German border.
The sights along the Danube River are spectacular (wait until you see the Budapest waterfront next week). Below is an ancient castle downstream in Austria’s Wachau Valley.
Next week Vienna and – if room – Budapest. Someday I want to visit other rivers of Europe since they are cradles of civilization and history and this journey has been extraordinary. Plus rivers can be so soothing (unless they are in flood!). Have you been to the Danube or tried fashioning a trip around a river?