Budapest, Hungary

The Danube – Europe’s most celebrated river – runs majestically through the centre of Budapest. The city has taken full advantage of this and it now offers some of the finest panoramas to be found anywhere on the continent. Starting far away in Germany (where the Breg and Brigach rivers meet), the Danube runs some 2859 kilometres before spilling into the Black Sea. On its journey, it passes through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Romania. Incidentally, contrary to the name of the famous waltz, it is not blue. (From: mytravelguide.com)

If you want to see the most romantic face of Budapest take a cruise with dinner and live music on the Danube. That’s what my husband and I did on a warm summer night.

Our cruise ship departed from the Kossuth Museum Ship at the foot of the Chain Bridge in Pest. While the ship was gliding through the greyish foams of the Danube we had a fine dinner with a glass of wine and admired the breathtaking view basking in the golden light of the setting sun. Live music enhances the romantic ambinece on cruises starting at 19.00. The Danube river bisects the city into two different parts: the hilly and more peaceful Buda on the right side, and the buzzing Pest on the left. Both river banks offer many sights: right at the start of your Danube cruise the graceful tower of the Matthias Church and the Fishermen’s Bastion draw your eyes to historic Castle District. Further up the building of Budapest Parliament dominates the Pest shore. At the north end of Margaret Island the ship turned and went down the river as far as the National Theatre at the Pest end of the Lágymányosi Bridge. The fine building of the Gresham Place – today an exclusive luxury hotel – stands at the Pest end of the Chain Bridge. The doloimit rock of the Gellért Hill towered above the water between Elizabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd) and Liberty Bridge (Szabadság híd). The modern-style National Theatre marked the final attraction of our excursion on the Danube. (From: budapest-tourist-guide.com)

Menacing Danube rises in Budapest (August 2002)

In Hungary, the river Danube has broken record levels along 170 kilometres (110 miles) of its length and is expected to peak in Budapest in the early hours of Monday morning. So far the city’s defences continue to hold and the authorities are cautiously optimistic that the catastrophic flooding experienced elsewhere in the region will be avoided. Thousands of soldiers and volunteers have been working frantically to reinforce the defences. About 2,000 people have been evacuated. Water levels on the River Elbe in Germany are finally receding in Saxony and its capital Dresden, but more people have been evacuated in towns downstream in neighbouring Saxony-Anhalt. The European Union has pledged to release funds to assist the countries affected. Commission President Romano Prodi made the announcement at a meeting in the German capital, Berlin, of leaders of four of the countries worst affected. Nearly 100 people have now died in the floods, and the clean-up bill is expected to run into billions of dollars.

Nervous townspeople in Budapest have been working around the clock to reinforce sandbag defences, and the BBC’s Nick Thorpe says they are getting tired. The flow of the Danube appeared to speed up on Sunday evening as the water reached a height of 8.49 meters (28.3 feet) , breaking the previous record of 8.45 meters (27.7 feet) set in 1965. Meteorologists said the river was likely to crest at 8.6 meters (28.7 feet) at dawn Monday – lower than previous predictions. Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy returned from holiday for an emergency session of the government, which pledged more money for flood defences. But Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky said his city would escape the devastation suffered by some German and Czech cities.

“Budapest will not be in the situation of Passau, Prague or Dresden,” he told Reuters news agency. “Fortunately our forefathers were wise enough to plan and build these banks in very good quality in the second half of the 19th century.”

However, our Budapest correspondent says that once the river peaks, the danger will be of a different nature – not that the waters pour over the city’s defences, but that they seep through or under them, undermining the efforts of the past week. (From: news.bbc.co.uk)

The Danube river runs the length of the Budapest downtown. It separates Buda from Pest. For many life revolves around this river. Whether simply taking in the views, going boating or using it for commercial traffic, the Danube is all important to most. For example, a canal used to feed Central Market Hall from the Danube. It was the primary source of delivering goods to the market stands and ultimately, the people. The river also played a key role in the defense of the retreating German army during WWII. They demolished each bridge with explosives to cripple the capital city and keep Allied ground forces from advanced rapidly. Recently, I got word of a Fulbright artist who completed a project about the possible use of the Danube as a weapon. Apparently, if the dam along the Hungarian boarder was to be breached, Budapest would be under water. Further research is needed and will be completed.

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