How long is the Danube, where does it rise and into which sea does it flow? What is its historical significance for Vienna? Why is the waltz called “On the beautiful blue Danube” and was the Danube really blue once?
With a total length of 2,850 km , the Danube is the second longest river in Europe after the Volga. It rises in the Black Forest and flows into the Black Sea with a five-branch delta. It is the only river in Europe that flows from west to east.
For Austria and especially Vienna, the Danube has always had a very important function as a trade route . Even the Romans appreciated the Danube flow, as it formed a natural border to the northern “barbarian” peoples.(Danube Limes) Vindobona was founded here as a Roman camp. According to the latest research, Vienna was already granted city rights at that time.
In the Middle Ages, there were about 80 toll and customs stations for ships along the approximately 350 Austrian kilometers of the Danube. In the Vienna Basin, the Danube once flowed along where the Danube Canal is today. Due to the many floods, the Danube became a river at the end of the 19th century. regulated. In the 1980s, regulation ended with the construction of the Danube Island.
As a result, the Danube in Vienna consists of four parts: the Danube Canal, the Main Stream, the New Danube and the Old Danube. The Danube Island is the local recreation area of the Viennese and the New Danube fulfills the flood protection instead of the former floodplain. The Old Danube is the quiet side arm and fulfills all vacation wishes of the Viennese.
There is hardly another city whose importance is so closely intertwined with the Danube as Vienna. Even a waltz was named after the Danube. In 1867 Johann Strauss Sohn composed the waltz “An der schönen blauen Donau” (On the Beautiful Blue Danube), which today is considered the secret anthem of Austria.
How did this text come about and was the Danube ever really blue? Strauss himself gave the waltz this title. Perhaps he was inspired by the poem of the Hungarian poet Isidor Beck, where these words appear? Originally, the text began with “Wiener seid froh! Oho, why?”. Only with the new text “Donau, so blau, durch Flur und Au”, the waltz celebrated its breakthrough in Vienna.
The fact is that the Danube, according to many studies, was never blue and is not today.
Time Travel Tip: With the red subway line U1 you can reach the Donauinsel or Alte Donau in 10 minutes from Stephansplatz.