Sourcing the Source (of the Danube)

Sat 26th July – we arrived in Donaueschingen, the ‘supposed’ source of the Danube River. It rained ALL day, but by evening had reduced to a mere drizzle, so we walked into town across the park looking for ‘the source’. Apparently it’s a spring in the grounds of the palace / castle / schloss.

And here it is

danubespring

Well, that’s what it was supposed to look like. For us, it looked like this!! (Under renovation – ready summer 2015).

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It then flows underground through the palace gardens to here

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and then into the Breg River, already quite some size, especially after all this rain!

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Well that was a bit of a disappointment. What about the little bubbling stream? I can’t help thinking it’s all a con organised by whichever bigwig lived in the palace at the time?

A bit of further investigation led us to discover that the Breg River had already been flowing for 49km originating in Furtwangen in the Black Forrest at 1078m above sea level.

source of the breg

Now THAT looks like a PROPER source!

The Breg then joins the smaller Brigach River, which originated in St. Georgen, again in the Black Forrest, 43km away. The ‘official’ (according to most sources) source of the Danube begins at these two rivers’ confluence just outside Donaueschingen,

danube confluence

can you spot the real photo?

can you spot the real photo?

no,! not a 'real' photo either - far too much sun! The Danube is recorded as anything from 2840 - 2845km long (but where do you start?)

no,! not a ‘real’ photo either – far too much sun! The Danube is recorded as anything from 2840 – 2845km long (but where do you start?)

I’m sure Donaueschingen would look better in the sunshine. It has some impressive old buildings and, of course, impressive fountains, a feature of almost everywhere in Germany

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St. Johns Church

St. Johns Church

The 'musician's fountain', Donaueschingen

The ‘musician’s fountain’, Donaueschingen

 

Next stop Immendingen where we’d been told the river ‘disappeared’. So, it doesn’t know where it starts from, and now it disappears?! In most summers, you’d expect to see a dry riverbed at the ‘Donauversinkung’, one of several places along this stretch where it sinks into its limestone bed and flows underground to a spring at Auch 12km away. So, as before, this is what it’s supposed to look like:

danube sinking2

DSC01764

 

But this is what it looked like to us:

 

walk on the 'riverbed' at your own risk!

walk on the ‘riverbed’ at your own risk!

...perhaps not

…perhaps not

 

Here’s the technical bit:

 

showing how the Danube links to the spring at Auch ..which links to the Bodensee  ..and the Rhine

showing how the Danube links to the spring at Auch ..which links to the Bodensee ..and the Rhine

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More info. on the ‘disapearing Danube’ here: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donauversinking

So is the source of the Rhine is actually the Danube; and is the source of the Danube actually the Breg??

It was actually a nice day for a change, so we thought we’d try out a stretch of the Danube Cycleway, which runs all the way to the Black Sea (the stretch across Austria and into Hungary to Budapest is one of the most popular in Europe).

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The river continues into an attractive limestone gorge in the ‘Naturpark Obere Donau’. We stopped at Beuron dominated by a huge Benedictine Monastery with it’s richly decorated Baroque style church.

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That night we had another big thunderstorm and more BIG RAIN. It continued virtually unstopped for the best part of 48hrs! We continued along the valley, just about seeing through the rain and cloud!

 

The Danube - a lot bigger and muddier than yesterday!

The Danube – a lot bigger and muddier than yesterday!

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Stopping at Inzigkofen at another ancient monastery and what might have been an interesting Bavarian museum (not exactly aiming at passing visitors – open for 3 hrs alternate Sunday afternoons!), we continued through Sigmaringen, a modern, busy place with another huge schloss (revealing, yet again, the complicated history of various ‘dukedoms’ in these parts). We stopped for the night at Scheer, with it’s old (1700s) timber framed buidings, a very impressive Baroque church (St. Nicholas’) with an unbelievable amount of incredibly well done fake marble. It had me tapping and looking at the edges to check!

notive the 'fitted' windows

note the ‘fitted’ windows

not even convinced the main pillars are marble?

not even convinced the main pillars are marble?

 

The river, of course, is very swollen

there was once a dry wier here, with most of the river flowing into the watermill channel on the far side!

there was once a dry weir here, with most of the river flowing into the watermill channel on the far side!

MORE RAIN… we continued on via Munderkingen and Rottenacker attempting to educate ourselves about the differences between Baroque, Gothic, Catholic and Protestant architecture ….can you tell it’s been raining?!

We stopped at Blaubeuren, near Ulm, famous for yet another Benedictine Monastery (there’s a LOT round here) founded in 1085, and completed in 1510. St. Peter’s chapel was particularly impressive with much ornate wood and stone carving and a ‘world famous’ high altar. It is also the source of the River Blau where an enormous volume of blue water rises to the surface from an underground stream / cave system, falls over a dam and then continues as a remarkably blue coloured river. The blueness is a combination of minerals within the limestone rock and the fact that it rises to the surface here under pressure.

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We followed the Blau to Blaustein where we stopped for a couple of days to visit Ulm, a short distance away by bike.

We enjoyed Ulm. We wandered around the streets in the Altstadt with its many timber-framed buildings dating from the 1500s (sadly now many are rendered over). We visited the excellent bread museum, privately run and giving donations and scholarships to research into improving the terrible statistics of world hunger. 1 in 7 of the world’s population is still categorised as malnourished or starving! They fund research into new crop strains, agricultural methods, animal husbandry etc. Very usefully, for us, they also provide an audio guide in English. We promenaded along the Danube, already wide and fast (if it continues at this rate!…).

The old streets of Ulm

The old streets of Ulm

 

The inside of the OLD building housing the Bread Museum

The inside of the OLD building housing the Bread Museum. There are floors and floors like this!

a certain 'Mr. Einstein' originated from here too. As usual, commemorated in a fountain. Note the building behind, originally timber fame, now plastered over and elaborately painted to look like stone.

a certain ‘Mr. Einstein’ originated from here too. As usual, commemorated in a fountain. Note the building behind, originally timber fame, now plastered over and elaborately painted to look like stone.

 

The Rathaus (townhall) was beautifully painted with historical scenes. The Rathaus restaurant serving ‘Flammkuchen’ (a local speciality similar to a pizza but with a base of crème fraiche and cheese rather than tomato) wasn’t bad either..

 

Stunning wall paintings, Ulm Rathaus

Stunning wall paintings, Ulm Rathaus

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Yum..

Yum..

 

Ulm cathedral has the highest church tower in the world at 161m / 528ft. If the 768 steps don’t put you off, you can climb up for stunning views. As usual it was rather a grey day so we didn’t bother. On a clear day you can see the Alps and Lake Constance / Bodensee in the distance.

More info. about Ulm and the ‘Minster’:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulm_Minster

 

it's HUGE. A picture really can't do it justice. Imagine a traveller happening upon this when it was first built ..it really would have seemed like the miraculous work of God!

it’s HUGE. A picture really can’t do it justice. Imagine a traveller happening upon this when it was first built ..it really would have seemed like the miraculous work of God!

 

the city from the top of the spire..sorry, cheated again

the city from the top of the spire..sorry, cheated again

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We liked the juxtaposition of the old and the new in Ulm. We could have happily spent many more days, wandering the streets, sitting in cafés soaking up the atmosphere and visiting more museums…

last Ulm

 

 

8 thoughts on “Sourcing the Source (of the Danube)

  1. Julian

    Another really interesting post. I love all the research you do and all the background info you provide. Well I for one vote that the source of the Danube is NOT the ‘wishing well’ in the grounds of the palace! How do you define the source of any river when it isn’t as simple as a spring feeding an ever growing stream? Although I suppose the true source of every river in the world is the same. The clouds!!!

    The pictures are great (despite a lot of cheating going on!). The architecture is very attractive and I love fountains, so would be a happy little puppy. Although I can see that the weather is spoiling things for you. If it makes you feel any better I should have kept my mouth shut when I said we were having the best summer for years back in Blighty. I think I should have said we’ve HAD the best summer for years, as it got chilly and started raining almost immediately after the words had left my fingers!! Forever the optimist though. Fingers crossed it might brighten up again!

    The best part of 500 years to build a monastery? I suppose they had the usual difficulties in finding a plumber 🙂

    Reply
  2. John and Wendy

    Sorry you are having so much rain. We have had just one wet night so far – just in time to save some of the plants in the garden. Since then a very few very light showers. Your blog is extremely impressive, are you getting information from Wikipedia? Hope the weather does improve for your journey through the mountains.

    Reply
    1. heidihymer Post author

      Germany is definitely very beautiful, with more blue water in the Alpen lakes. Most of the locals have been friendly too, which makes you want to linger longer.

      Reply
  3. Tracy Warner

    Pete and Elaine this is wonderful and so informative – do you know I did not even realise that there was a dispute about where the Danube begins? Such interesting buildings and I love old monasteries I think I would be in my element too. Wanted to ask when you say you could have stayed longer in Ulm – can you not? I love the colour of the water where it emerges from the ground – stunning – learning so much through you and so happy to have caught up 😀 Take care xox

    Reply

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