Comfortable “harbor” next to the city
The quality of life in Vienna is reflected in the water. This is true in the Danube canal (Donaukanal) too – or more precisely, on its banks. The river next to the center of Vienna originated during the regulation of the Danube between 1870 and 1875; prior to that it was the river’s southernmost arm. Today it is 17.3 kilometers long, straightened – and dreams of the days back in the middle ages when it was the mighty main distributary of the Danube. For centuries the Danube Canal was essential for passenger and cargo ships; it was a convenient “harbor” right next to the city.
“Things almost look better underwater than they do above.” The Vienna marine ecologist Herbert Keckeis on the remarkable variety of fish life in the Donaukanal.
It’s not surprising therefore that from the 18th century onwards fishmongers settled here – nowhere else were the fish as fresh as on the banks of the Danube Canal! In 1899 the city’s horse-drawn trams were replaced by the Stadtbahn urban railway, and the fish market had to move on. It was around this time that the people of Vienna began to discover the Danube Canal as a recreational paradise: they cooled down from the heat of the city in beaches along its banks or in wooden “bathing ships”. This all stopped after World War II, and things became quiet along the Danube Canal.
Today the canal is once again full of life…
especially in the warmer months: its banks are lined with trees, beach bars, restaurants and clubs.
Joggers run along the shore, people relax with cocktails in deckchairs, and the Badeschiff with its swimming pool harks back to the good old days when people went swimming in the waters of the canal. The world heritage-listed inner city rises on one side, while after dark modern buildings compete for attention on the other. If you feel like a short break from the city, you can board the Twin City Liner to Bratislava at the Marienbrücke. The high-speed catamaran takes 75 minutes for the trip “from center to center.” The Danube Canal has lots to offer – enjoy it!
Text: Lucia Czernin, Fotos: Christine Wurnig