31 May 2014

Le pietre di Bölcske


scritto da Gergely Schell
Bölcske e Madocsa sono due comuni sulle sponde del Danubio, entrambi tra le città di Dunaföldvár e Paks. La ferrovia (che ai giorni d’oggi non svolge trasporto pubblico), e l’autostrada (oggigiorni meno in uso per via della strada numero 6), entrambi sono abbastanza distanti, dunque preservano l’isolamento dei villaggi. Gli storici, archeologi, antropologi, etnografici ed altri numerosi intenditori fanno tesoro di questi siti, per cui ne vale la pena di assentarsi dalla via maestra.


01 May 2014

Revitalization of the Wienfluss

19th-century urban development involved the development of sewerage. Until then, the rivers were the main collectors, and the smaller streams served as channels. The Ördögárok stream in Buda, and the Rákos stream in Pest exuded unbearable stench before being eradicated. The second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy partly buried, partly forced underground the putrid channels which emanated putrid stench and usually also served as garbage dumps. Few people know that at that time the capital of the Monarchy also faced similar problems. There a firm and drastic intervention was necessary because of the floods and disease risk of the Wien river, which gave the name of the city. 

The Wien river being covered, ca. 1895.

The rapid improvement of the water quality after the installation of sewerage confronted Vienna city planning with new challenges. The river is no longer considered an enemy, and they slowly take the first step to the figurative and literal rehabilitation of the Wien river. The river, which not only gave the name of the city, but during its history also defended it from the enemy.

The case of the chicken and the egg – Which Wien was before?

The name of Wien was first used in the Salzburg Yearbooks of 881, in the form “ad Uueniam” (ad Weniam), but it is not clear whether it refers to the city or to the river. In Lower Austria it is quite frequent that a settlement along the Danube is named for the local tributary river (e.g. Enns, Ybbs, Aggsbach etc.), thus historians and etymologists think it likely that Vienna was named after the Wien river.

The Wien river as the natural line of defense of Vindobona

The river had a special importance for the development and progression of Vienna. It played a strategic role in the city’s southeast line of defense. In ancient times the legionary camp of Vindobona was surrounded on two sides by the Wien river and the Ottakring creek, forming two natural ditches around the settlement. In Roman times, the ramose side-branches of the Danube created a veritable archipelago on the widening floodplain, and the Wien poured into one of these branches.

The mouth of the Wien river (right), and the city walls of Vienna in 1686

Just like in Csallóköz – the Schüttinsel to the south of Bratislava/Pozsony/Preßburg –, the main branch of the Danube in Vienna was not suitable for navigation. The Donaukanal known today started to take shape in the Middle Ages from a side branch of the Danube, where the sailors could approach the imperial city, like they did on the Moson branch of the Danube in the Hungarian section. The Wien poured into the Danube at the easternmost bastion of the city, where above its mouth it formed a section of the moat called Graben.

The river bed before regulation