Europe - 2010: Main Danube Canal

Back to Index | Back to Stage 3


(From the Avalon brochure)

The Main Danube Canal is an old dream of humanity.  Charlemagne started the construction of its “Fossa Carolina” more than 12 centuries ago, and while his construction effort failed, parts of the canal are still visible in southern areas of central Franconia.  King Ludwig I of Bavaria built the first fully functioning Main Danube Canal in only 10 years of construction from 1836 – 1846.  Yet, the Ludwig-Main-Danube Canal, as it was called, with its 101 water locks, was rather narrow and its practical use for shipping was highly limited. Its operation came to an end in 1945, partly due to the damage from WWII. 

The planning of the present canal dates back to 1922. A project of this magnitude caused a lively debate over the environmental and economic consequences of its construction.  Economic planners gravely overestimated its potential, while environmentalists largely underestimated the positive aspects of its construction for biotope – and the fact the canal actually provides 1.25 million cubic meters of water to the dry Northern Bavarian region every year. 

It was not until September 1992 that the present-day Main Danube Canal opened for traffic. It stretches for a length of 106 miles from Bamberg in Germany via Nürnberg to Regensburg.  The canal reaches its apex 1,332 feet above sea level.  Sixteen water locks facilitate safe passage of vessels. Eleven water locks were needed to overcome the ascent of 574 feet between the Maine in Bamberg and the apex and five additional locks facilitate descent from the apex.  The canal is 180 feet wide and 13 feet deep. All traffic water locks are 40 feet wide and 623 feet long. 

Thanks to the canal, it is now possible to navigate from the Rhine delta in Rotterdam, Holland to the Danube delta at the Black Sea – a stretch of 2,200 miles.

Back to Index | Back to Stage 3