13 October 2018

Danubian Island of the year 2018

This is the sixth time the Donauinseln blog starts its poll for the Danubian Island of the year. You can vote for the three nominated islands between 13th October and 1st January 2019.

Blogul “Insule Dunarene” initiaza acum, deja a sasea oara, alegerea “Insulei Anului”. Alegerea se poate face dintre trei insule desemnate, si are loc intre 13 octombrie si 1 ianuarie.

The aim of this poll is to focus attention on the mostly unknown islands of the Danube. Most of you probably visited the Seychelle Islands before any Danubian Island. As we stated this is the fifth poll, and we hope we have started a tradition and more-and-more people will learn about these islands across the Globe.

Scopul principal al acestui demers este cunoasterea mai buna a insulelor ascunse (dar cu atat mai interesante) de pe cursul dunarii. Mai degraba au fost multi pe insulele Seyschelle decat pe oricare din insulele enumerate mai jos.  Cu cele cinci editii anterioare se pare ca am creeat traditie a.i. si acest demers a prins notorietate in randul algerilor de categoria “... Anului”.

The winners so far (you might noticed this is a Hungary-based blog):
2013. Kompkötő Island, Vác, Hungary
2014. Helemba Island, Esztergom, Hungary
2015. Kismarosi Island, Kismaros, Hungary
2016. Szalki Island, Dunaújváros, Hungary
2017. Zitny Ostrov, (Csallóköz) Slovakia

Insulele castigatoare de pana acum:
In 2013 insula Kompkötő din Vác (HU)
In 2014 insula Helemba-sziget din Esztergom (Strigoniu HU)
In 2015 insula Kismarosi din Kismaros (HU)
In 2016 insula Szalki din Dunaújváros (HU)
In 2017 insula Csallóköz (SK)

This year our readers have selected two islands in the qualifying rounds. This year with our nominee, the sunken Ada Kaleh in Romania we expect a real international competition. We start the introduction in alphabetical order, with the island we thought worthy enough to participate in the poll:

In acest an cititorii blogului au ales cateva preliminare. Insula Ada Kaleh ofera perspectiva unui adevarat concurs international. Enumeram in cele ce urmeaza, in ordine alfabetica, insulele care credem ca isi au locul in alegerea “Insulei Anului 2018”:

Ada Kaleh, Al-Duna - Romania

I do not think I have to introduce this island to you, let me ask Patrick Leigh Fermor for this favour. The legends of this sunken Turkish Island on the Danube was built and destroyed by human beings.  Once a Habsburg fortress, later a Turkish dominion isolated by hundreds of miles from the Homeland has disappeared in 1971 with the contruction of the Iron Gates hydroelectric plant. The Donauinseln blog did everything so far to keep the islands memory alive, now it is the time for our readers to do the same!

Cred ca insula Ada Kaleh nu mai are nevoie de prezentare. Aceasta insula turceasca, inundata, a fost deopotriva ridicata in nemurire si scufundata in uitare de aceeasi mana neobosita a omului. Se leaga de ea nenumarate legende. Amintesc aici de localizarea imprecisa a cititorilor lui Jókai, bunaoara acestia au plasat, eronat, aici actiunea romanului „Omul de aur” si asa zisa „insula a nimanui”. Blogul „Insule Dunarene” a facut multe lucruri in sensul pastrarii in amintire a acestei insule. Iata acum posibilitatea ca si cititorii nostrii sa ne ajute in acest demers.

Molnár Island, Budapest

This is a real urbanised island in the southern suburbs of Budapest. It is located on the Soroksári Danube, a huge oxbow which receives only 1% of the discharge of the main Danube. The decrease of the water level cused a four time increase in the size of the Molnár (Miller) Island. Once famous for the ship mills now it is a built up area swallowed by the suburbization. The nearby Danube is suffering from the sedimentation and the sewage, however there is a local community who cares about the future of the island and the Danube.

Timpul si-a lasat amprenta si pe insula din Soroksár. Se gaseste la partea de nord a bratului inchis al dunarii de la Soroksár. Incepand cu 1950 insula apartine de Budapesta si a crescut in ultimii 150 de ani cu 431%. In locul vestitului santier naval, in fosta albie colmatata, acum sunt case de vacanta si ansambluri rezidentiale permanente. Probeleme apar insa din cauza malului carat de raul Gyáli la confluenta cu bratul dunarii. Pe insula acum s-a dezvoltat o comunitate dispusa sa si faca ceva pentru insula, de asta a ajuns insula Mólnár in aceasta finala.

Süttői Island, Moča, Slovakia

Süttő is a town located in Hungary. It has an island on the Danube with the same name, belonging to the Slovakian community, Moča (Dunamocs). Moča is a community located in Slovakia. It has an island on the Danube with the same name, belonging to the Hungarian community Süttő. This is a real Danubian island surrounded by the river 365 days a year since the stone dyke was opened. It is a famous nesting place of migratory birds and a place for campers and kayakers.

Unde se gaseste insula Süttői? Insula poarta numele localitatii maghiare dar datorita lucrarilor de reglementare a fluviului a ajuns sa apartina de Slovacia, bunaoara este la sud de calea navigabila. Acum este in administratia localitatii Dunamocs, asadar teritoriu Slovac. Este o insula in adevaratul sens al cuvantului, adica este imbratisata de ape din toate partile, mai ales decand s-a demolat digul de piatra care facea legatura cu malul Slovac. Interesant mai este ca insula Dunamocs, care poarta numele localitatii din Slovacia, apartine de Ungaria, deci este remarcabila si datorita impartirii neobisnuite de teritorii.

The poll will be closed at midnight 1st January 2019. The results will be available in the first post of the year 2019.

Votul se incheie pe 1 ianuarie 2019, la miezul noptii. Publicarea rezultatului la postarea de final de an 2019!

01 October 2018

Qualifying round of the "Danubian Island of the year 2018" voting

Time has come again to cast your vote for the Danubian Island of the Year. This will be the sixth year we start this contest. As a tradition our readers can nominate their favourite islands, and then it is upon them which two Danubian Island will qualify for the finals. As usual there are 3 islands in the final the 3rd one is nominated by the Donauinseln blog. The qualifying round ends on the 12th October 2018. On the next day we start the finals which ends on the last day of 2018.

Last year's winner: Zitny Ostrov (Csallóköz in Slovakia)

All islands are from the middle (Hungarian) section of the Danube, from Győr to Rácalmás. This is because the blog has mostly Hungarian readers and writers. The Islands are in alphabetical order. Please check each island on the Hungarian language blog (titles on the right panel).

Please select your favourite Danubian Island (Island/Location):

03 June 2018

Map form 1778 summarizes the history of the Háros Island

If we take a look at Szigetszentmiklós' map (located south from Budapest, on the Csepel Island) from the year 1778, we find the Háros island on the top left corner. And almost all the information — written in German — we need to know about its entire history. So for those who does not like to read we completed a summary of the Danubian Island's history based on the below map.

Háros village and island in 1778. (source: maps.hungaricana.hu)

Here are 10 things you did not know about the Háros Island:
  • Despite the Háros island is part of Budapest's XXII. district and thereby Transdanubia it used to be closer to the other side of the Danube; the Csepel Island. 
  • That is why it's name originated from Háros village, located on the eastern bank of the river. 
  • The inhabitants left Háros after village was completely destroyed by the icy flood of 1838. Its church hill can still be seen on the map. 
  • Háros was also called Pheasant Island, namely it functioned as a game preserve for a while.
  • Therefore a gamekeeper's lodge (Jägerhaus) was built on and from the ruins of an old church (Alte Kirche).
  • This old church was founded in 1264 as the monastery of St Eustace. 
  • Its ruins were still standing at the end of the 19th century, later it disappeared without a trace.
  • The monastery of St. Eustace was probably destroyed before the Turkish invasion, due to the rising level of the Danube. During this process the inhabited island became a flood plain.
  • There were two other islands on the left bank of the Danube next to Háros, the Mészáros (Butcher) island on the north and an anonymous island to the south, which is now part of the Háros island.
  • The "Fischerhütten" (Fisherman's cottage) phrase on the Csepel (right) side reminds us of a nearby settlement's name, Halásztelek (Fisherman's plot), but this was part of Tököl under the name Herminatelep until 1951. 

01 June 2018

The two bridges of Ada Kaleh

The island of Ada Kaleh was famous of many reasons; its Turkish inhabitants, its rose petal jam, its cigars, its minaret, its fate and history. And it was famous for its fortress, the survivor of many sieges. This fortress was not only built to hinder the Turkish forces sailing up on the Danube, but it also guarded a river crossing. This crossing has been witnessed by two bridges in the 18th century.

Ada Kaleh in the 18th century

The first fortress of Ada Kaleh was started to built in 1691 by Veterani, a general of the cavalry of the Habsburg monarchy. This general gave the name of the famous Veterani caves nearby. Due to its strategic position the fortress witnessed many sieges. At the end of the 17th century the fortress was built up by weak earth ramparts so a Turkish counter attack captured it and the peace treaty of Karlowitz (1699) left the island in Turkish possession. In 1717 Habsburg troops besieged Ada Kaleh and after months of encirclement eventually they captured it in August and two years later the Treaty of Passarowitz confirmed the conquest. 

After the peace treaty a new fortress has been constructed with twenty year's effort. The rectangular shaped fortress was made up by stones and bricks, positioned in the middle of the island, but ramparts and bastions protected the entire area. On the right side of the Danube (then Turkey, now Serbia) a watchtower has been built and named fort Elizabeth. This tiny outpost was connected to Ada Kaleh through a pontoon bridge — according to a contemporary drawing. Fort Elizabeth has been demolished by the independent Serbian government in 1868. 

The new fortress on Ada Kaleh remained in Austrian possession until 1738, when a new war broke out between Austria and Turkey. After several month of siege, the Turkish army managed to capture the island with the just finished fortress. The seriously damaged Ada Kaleh was rebuilt and the German settlers has been ousted and replaced by Turkish people. 

Ada Kaleh in 1790.

After a half century's peaceful period a new Austro-Turkish war broke out and the fortress changed its owner once more, however only for a short time. In 1790 Austria captured Ada Kaleh, but they were forced to leave after the peace treaty of Sistovo. 

This short Austrian rule is represented with another pontoon bridge, which can be found on mapire.eu, the map of Wallachia in year 1790. The bridge connects Ada Kaleh with the left side of the Danube and obviously served military purposes. This second bridgehead was situated near a gap on the ramparts seen on the 1737 situations plan. There is no such gap on the other side, facing Fort Elizabeth, this pontoon bridge might have a bridgehead near one of the bastions. I found no evidence if these two bridges co-existed, but it might have happened during times of war or when Fort Elizabeth and Ada Kaleh has been built at the same time. 

The two bridges of Ada Kaleh

After 1790 a peaceful era started on the island lasting with only one period of war (1916-1918) until 1972, when the whole island submerged due to the construction of the Iron Gates 1. dam. The Turkish military did not maintain the two pontoon bridges, as the fortress slowly lost its military importance (and garrison as well). With the decline of the Turkish rule on the Balkans Turkey has first lost the left side of the Danube, and later the right banks as well. But Ada Kaleh itself remained in Turkish possession until 1912. The inhabitants had to use boats and regular Danubian passenger ships to leave the island. But that is another story...

06 January 2018

Dissolving - Horsepower in the Danube

Horses in the Danube. Waggons in the Danube. The past comes alive on pastor Gergely Hörömpő's old pictures from Vác.  Technology might develop from time to time, but human habits remain the same. Decades come and go, and vehicles return to the river. Where they no longer belong. The waggons of modern times no longer drink the river's gray water. 

Dissolving. Cars, quads and sometimes motorbikes. Although the environment has changed, specific parts of the river have became protected by environmental law. National Parks, World Heritage Sites, Ramsar Sites, Natura 2000 territories has been established. No motor vehicles are permitted to enter any of them. Not even at one place.  

Rangers of national parks, foresters, members of the local trainband are unwilling to answer the question: what can a law-abiding citizen do in this case?  
It is simple: as an ordinary citizen you can do almost nothing... Of course you can take a photo (illegal) you can stop him (illegal) etc., etc. Anything you try, you won't succeed. We also have poor results, that is why they are everywhere, although it is clearly illegal. This is the situation, sorry...
So that is why it is important to make a disclaimer: The "Dissolving" post name has been taken from the Poemas del río Wang blog, the author of the pictures only photographed the landscape, the unfitting items noticed only at home. We apologize for taking the pictures of any individual on the last two images...