The Danube River
The Danube River is the second longest river in Europe where it is one of the
major methods of transportation. One reason for this is the fact that it is the only
major European river to flow west to east. The source of the river is located in the
Black Forest area of Germany. From there, it flows about 1,770 miles to the east.
The mouth of the river forms a delta on the Romanian coastline of the Black Sea.
The Danube River has been used as an important means of transportation of
soldiers for nearly 2,000 years. In the 200s, the river was the northern border of
the Roman Empire, and Roman soldiers no doubt used the river. Years later, the
Goths, Slavs, Huns, and other Germanic tribes used the Danube to cross into the
Roman Empire. Later, the Danube was used to gain access to Constantinople.
The Crusaders used the Danube to travel faster on their quest to regain the Holy
Land. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the Ottoman Turks used the Danube
for easier advancement into western and central Europe. Both the commercial
and military value of the Danube are still recognized today. Many treaties have
been signed to try to keep one country from having too much control of it. In the
early part of the 19th century, the Danube served as a link between the industrial
area of Germany and farmland of the Balkans. At this time, the Ottoman Empire
was weakening, but the Russian Empire was near the height of its power. Austria
and other powerful European nations recognized this threat to the area and were
able to prevent Russia from gaining the Danube delta.
Ruins of the Roman bridge over the Danube at Turnu-Severin, Romania. In
1982 on a cruise to this area on a hydrofoil, I was arrested after taking some pictures
here, as it is on the border between Yugoslavia and Romania. After being
interrogated for about 2 hours, my film was confiscated. (The American Embassy did