27 December 2012

Spiritual landscape of the Danube in 1941

In year 1941, Hungary regained most of its old parts, like southern Slovakia, Subcarpathia, northern Transylvania and Vojvodina. The Hungarian High Commands took efforts to revise the old maps of these territories. This country-wide mapping project started with aerial photography of Hungary. These images were assembled into orthophotos and also received labels and geographic coordinate system. You can see the result here, although many prints have been destroyed during the second world war. The surviving prints can be found at the Institute and Museum of Military History, Budapest. Recently these maps were digitised, as a member of this project I found many traces of long lost danubian branches in these black and white images.

section 4859_2 A new lake will be born.

21 December 2012

Last spring on Ada Kaleh

It is very hard to say anything new of the sunken island of Ada Kaleh. Many memoirs, pictures, and literature can be found of this lost paradise, even on the internet, on many languages. In Hungarian, Romanian, German, English and Turkish as well. But very few films remained of it. This Romanian video shows the islands last spring, in two parts, before the complete island was flooded by the Iron Gate hydroelectric dam between Serbia (Yugoslavia and Romania)in 1968. It is not necessary to understand all that has been said by the narrator. The orchards of this lost world, the fort, the people, their houses, the peach trees, the unique rose-petal jam, the home-made cigars. The whole island, with its turkish inhabitants is gone. It is flooded by 30 meters (100 yards) of Danube water. The village and the fortress was torn town, taken on ships to rebuild almost everything on a somewhat downstream island, the Simian. This communist human experiment was unsuccessful, the turkish community dispersed as the petals of their peach orchard. Nothing remained.


14 December 2012

Wildlife on holiday - Summer on the Rezéti-Danube

Gemenc is one of the largest floodplains along the Danube, that remained. The riverine forests and meadows have escaped the river regulations, thanks to the archbishop of Kalocsa. In the 19th century, the archbishop refused to join the regulation company which was founded to drain the floodpalins of Tolna county in Hungary. Thus the forests have survived and they soon became the most famous hunting places in Hungary, as a final refugee for game.

08 December 2012

The gothic Zichy chapel of Lórév

Those who wander often on the danubian floodplains, will soon receive immunity against finding weird things in the riverine forests and meadows. I have seen many extraordinary things, such as mororcross tracks, alpine flowers, thujas escaped from gardens, trash thrown out of ships, slag from ancient steamboats, 30 million years old fossils, and even malls. Well, now I have seen one gothic chapel too.

This small chapel next to Lórév can be recognised from the opposite side of the Danube. It floats as an ethereal spectacle, and one can not understand how did this phenomenal catholic building got here, next to this small village, inhabited mostly by orthodox serbs. It is as weird, as if we find a thatched house in downtown Budapest.

30 November 2012

November morningrise on the Danube

Autumn has arrived to the banks of the Danube. Dense fog hides in its side arms, between the trees. Rays of sunlight can only lift the vapor by noon. The unflinching river surface reflects river birds travelling southbound, like silver mirror. Dry leaves cover the parched river bed, which will be covered by ice and snow in weeks. Silence everywhere. Autumn has come to the Island of Göd too. For the photographers, and our utmost delight.

27 November 2012

The swollen Margaret Island

If we go through the admirable photo collaction of Fortepan.hu with an eye got used to geomorphology, we can find a lot of interesting changes in the Hungarian landscape. So it is with Budapest's favourite island, the Margaret Island. Its name comes from Saint Margaret, daughter of the Hungarian King Béla IV. In the 30s, an unknown tourist captured this view from the Buda Castle. This photo has preserved the memory of the Víziváros, Margaret Island, further the Népsziget and the northernmost Palotai Island covered with dense forest.

But there is something strange with the Margaret Island. Its western side is quite barren, as if a real estate investor has just chopped the forest to build more hotels. But that is not the case. To understand, why the island looked like this, we have to go back in time.

24 November 2012

Danubian archipelago on fire - archive pictures of the bombing of Hungary, 1944

Busy death is seeking this era... Fortepan.hu, a famous collection of old photographs has just published several pictures, taken from american bombers over Hungary, late summer and autumn in 1944. Dichotomy hides in these pictures. On one hand the Danube is rolling along in bright sunshine. We almost see the bathers on the sandy banks, as they cover their eyes from the sun, watching the approaching bombers in the sky. On the other hand, young american soldiers look down on the countryside, patterns of cities, roads, fields and meadows, like an outstreched map, on which red crosses are indicating the facilities, industries, bridges, railroad junctions to be destroyed. They let loose their deadly load as easy as pushing a button. And when completed their mission, they fly back to Italy, happy to survive the fires of the anti-aircraft batteries. And on one plane, a frightened photographer documents how much they managed to complete from the day's work.

I only selected these pictures, that have something to do with the Danube. Our trip begins in the Hungarian west, and we will go along the Danube, first eastbound, then we turn south in the Danube Bend. 

22 November 2012

Geography of Saint Florian

Enns. A less than 254 km long tributary of the left side of the Danube. Starting from the Radstäter Tauern and initially heading to east, after a sharp break it turns north, cutting through the narrow alpine limestone ranges in the Gesäuse Gorge. Forming a boundary between Lower and Upper Austria, it flows into the Danube at the city of Enns, at the 2112 river kilometer. Its average water charge is 195 m3/s, but in time of flood they also measured 1020 at it. Its color is greenish blue, due to the sediments transported from the Alps. In 304 they drowned in this river Florian, the veteran Roman army officer, at the bridge of Lauriacum.
The bridges of Enns city over the Enns river

11 November 2012

Traces of a mighty paleo-Danube in the Altmühl Valley

The morphology of the river valleys depends on the amount of the water delivered. By morphology we do not only understand the width of the valley: the term also includes the development of the bends. The more abundant the water discharge of a river is, the larger bends it forms. If we consider that the water discharge of a river varies widely even within a year, the more so it was in the various geological ages. The bend development of long abandoned riverbeds indicate the water discharge conditions of old ages. Therefore, a geographer always becomes suspicious if he sees a small brooklet – that cannot be even properly called a stream – running in a large and wide valley. The Wellheim valley in Bavaria is such a place.

The ancient riverbed forms of the Wellheim dry valley. Source: urdonautal.info

08 November 2012

Record discharge measured on the Drava!

The record discharge on the Drava was surpassed today. At the city of Ptuj they measured 3100-3200 m³ per second, which surpassed by 500 m³ the highest ever measured value of 1965. To compare this data, the Danube's discharge at Budapest was 1760 recently. Within days they can observe at the mouth of the river a rare hydrologic phenomenon, when the fourth largest tributary of the Danube will deliver twice as much water as the main river.
Lavamünd under water, 06. 11. 2012. (photo: Standard.at)

02 November 2012

The Danube is blooming!

End of August I received many emails and calls from the blog's readers, that there has been a miracle all along the river. THE DANUBE IS BLOOMING! They sent me some pictures as well to illustrate the hatching of the mayflies. According to the recent drastic water quality improvement, the famous "Tiszavirágzás" (the Tisza river blooming) phenomenon has to prepare for a challenge. It is a distinct possibility, that the blooming Danube will attract as many tourists and nature lovers in the future just like it's major side-river nowdays. Now let's see the reports of our readers, how they saw the bridal dance of these extremely short-lived mayflies!

raczger: IMG 1357

26 October 2012

Wild Hungary

I may not be neutral about this nature film, made by Zoltán Török in 2011. In brief this is my favourite of it's kind. If you do not know Hungary yet, well, this is the best way to start!

16 October 2012

First of all

After three years I finally made the decision to put my Dunai Szigetek (Islands of the Danube) blog in the hands of a wider audience. We're talking about over 230 posts now, all in hungarian language. Many - but I admit not all - of them may be intresting for non-hungarian people, living on any place of this planet.