Elbe River, Europe

From Sharon Larner;

Dresden International School; Dresden, Germany:

Dresden’s Elbe River has some weird links with the Mississippi riverboat culture. Did you know that Dresden has a fleet of the oldest paddle wheel river boats running in the world? Even weirder, there’s a huge Dixieland music festival held here every summer. I was somewhat surprise to witness this when I first arrived in former East Germany! Where does it come from? Was there a music tradition celebrated on the riverboats back then or did they just adopt yours? Intriguing.

Now, I’ve got a sad story to tell about bridges and life on the river. The Dresden Elbe Valley was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 and lost it 2009 because the city pushed the construction of a giant 4 lane bridge right in the middle of the site. This put Dresden on the map as the second place in the world to lose the title, the first to purposefully lose a title by destroying a cultural heritage site was the Taliban when they blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas. Despite massive protests the bridge construction was pushed through, alternative crossing measures like a tunnel were rejected, attempts to streamline the look of the bridge were blocked and the arch was erected in December.

Note from Joe: The 4 lane bridge that Sharon’s describing is not the Blue Wonder Bridge pictured above. The Blue Wonder was built in 1893, barely survived being bombed in World War II, and today is a historic landmark.

  • Starts in the Czech Republic
  • 680 miles (1094 KM) long
  • Flows through Czech Republic and Germany
  • Empties into North Sea