29 March 2013

The evanescent Pap Island of Szentendre

Szentendre is a small town, situated just north from Budapest, on the banks of the Danube. Whenever you have the chance to visit this small and beautiful baroque town take your time to visit also the town’s popular leisure center: the Pap Island. It has seen better times, concerning its existence as an island. Once the Danube had so wide and deep side-branch that man could pull vessels upstream on it. But nowadays, especially in autumn, when the river usually has very little water this side-branch is almost completely dried out (apart from some deep holes in the riverbed). My last trip on this island has made me think that the Pap Island is very much likely will disappear from the maps, unless there is an intervention. There is already a willow-forest connecting the trees of right bank with the riverine forests of the island, grown in the muddy river-bed. The silt bank is at least 3 feet high, which prevents the flow of fresh water into the dry side-branch.

13 March 2013

Most beautiful bridge in the world

There are times, when words mean nothing. In this post, there will be no data, date, paragraphs of law, engineering plans and documents. Only plenty of old photographs selected from fortepan.hu of the Erzsébet bridge in Budapest, most beautiful bridge in the world. 

01 March 2013

Count Marsigli and the Danube

Cover of the first edition, 1726
Count Luigi Fernando Marsigli embodies a long vanished kind of people, very dear to my heart, those we simply call a polymath. During his long life, he was a military engineer, military historian, general of the Habsburg army, diplomat, cartographer, meteorologist, ornithologist, mineralogist, anatomist, archaeologist, hydrologist, historian, marine scientist, ethnographer, art collector, geographer and botanist.

His major work is the reason why I devote an entry on him on the Donauinseln blog. The Danubius Pannonico - Myscius Observationibus geographicis, astronomicis, hydrographicis, historicis, physicis perlustratus was published in Amsterdam, 1726 in six volumes, more than twenty years after it was completed.

Marsigli first came to Hungary as a member of the dragoon regiment of Savoy in 1683, and fought throughout the war which lead to Hungary’s liberation from the Ottoman Empire. He fought at the liberation of Buda, and was a member of the Habsburg delegation at the Karlowitz peace treaty. In this context he worked as a cartographer drawing the new border between the two empires in southern Hungary. Together with Turkish cartographers they mapped the frontier within two hours walk on both sides of the border.