Interesting facts about the Danube for International Danube Day

The countries of the Danube river basin have been celebrating Danube Day on 29th June since 2004, the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Danube River Protection Convention. The international day aims to focus attention on one of Europe’s most beautiful natural features and to inspire cooperation for the protection of the valuable features of the river and its catchment area.

This year’s motto for Danube Day is “Take action for the Danube and the Tisza”: the programmes associated with the event call attention to environmental awareness, the protection of natural assets and the economical use of water.

“Freshwater is a unique asset, our future depends on it. For us, Hungarians, the Danube is an element of life. It gives us drinking water, waters our fields, cleans our air and brings life and change to our natural environment. It is our joint interest and responsibility to take care of it, protect and preserve it!”, said István Joó, Ministerial Commissioner responsible for the preparation of the Budapest 2016 Water Summit and the implementation of the EU’s Danube Region Strategy

10+1 interesting facts about the Danube:

  1. It is the most ‘international’ river in the world: it crosses 10 countries, while its catchment area extends into 17 countries.
  2. It is the second longest river in Europe, travelling 2850 kilometres from the Black Forest in Germany to the Black Sea.
  3. Its source is in Donaueschingen in the Black Forest, at the confluence of two small streams, the Brigach and the Breg.
  4. The entire territory of Hungary is within the river basin of the Danube, the length of its main branch in Hungary is 417 km.
  5. Its longest tributary is the Tisza, which originates from the confluence of the Fekete (Black) Tisza and the Fehér (White) Tisza in Ukraine and flows through Romania, Hungary, Slovenia and Serbia.
  6. There are a total of 342 bridges over the Danube, of which 295 are proper Danube bridges, the remaining 47 are over navigable side branches. The Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge) at Regensburg is considered the oldest permanent bridge over the river. It was built with 16 spans at the beginning of the 12th century, and today it still stands as a 14-span bridge.
  7. According to legend, King Matthias was crowned on the Danube’s ice on 24 January 1458. That claim is not entirely true, the coronation took place in the Buda Castle, the ice merely played an important role by letting armed forces loyal to Matthias cross the frozen river.
  8. The greatest flood of the Danube occurred in 1838, most of the Erzsébetváros, Józsefváros and Ferencváros districts were under 2 metres of water. The flood killed 153 people.
  9. The sands of the Danube contain 10–600 mg/m3 of gold, which cannot be extracted in an economical fashion. Accordingly, industrial extraction has never taken place, but people have been panning for gold along the river since Roman times.
  10. When the Danube’s water level is lowest, the ‘Rock of Misery’ at the foot of Mount Gellért becomes visible. It was named thus because it only becomes visible at times of great, miserable drought. But it has been appearing with increasing frequency: most recently in 2003, 2011 and 2015.

+1 Last year, the Daily Telegraph published a list of the most beautiful rivers in the world. They looked at navigable rivers with great views from a boat. In that ‘World Championship’, the Danube finished in 9th place.

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