Austria: Lake Neusiedl – A Unique Steppe Lake in Europe
Lake Neusiedl (in German Neusiedler See, in Hungarian Fertő) covers the area of 320 km² and is situated in 115 meters above the sea level. It is interesting that due to Earth’s curvature, which is 9,6 meters between the lake and the village of Mörbisch am See, you can’t see the other end of the lake. The lake itself is located in two countries, the larger part is in Austria where it is also the largest water surface in the country. The smaller part of the lake is located in Hungary. Influx to the lake is mostly covered by groundwater and the River Wulka. There is no natural outflow but in the years 1895 – 1909 an artificial outflow canal Einserkanal had been constructed. The water surface is connected to the Danube river basin. The typical feature of the lake are vast areas of sugar cane plantations overlap with the lake. The sugar plantation is somewhere almost 8 kiolometers wide. There is the only place on the lake about 2 kilometers long near the town of Podersdorf am See that is not covered with sugar cane.
Sugar cane gives this place virtually life. In its depths there live thousands water birds and other rare species. Thanks to this the lake and surroundings was included in two national parks (Neusiedler See - Seewinkel and Fertő-Hanság) and it was declared the UNESCO world heritage site since 2001. It is interesting to observe how seasons of the year change there. The summer season is the time when the lake grows and in winter the lake is frozen almost to the bottom, hence it is a perfect natural ice skating rink. But lets talk again on summer for then the lake is very popular among people whom like sports. There are several places you can bath and many harbors. Before we get to its usage as a recreational and sporting area we have to mention few things about its histoy.
The lake emerged about 20 million years ago. Or, to be more precise, a geological process that resulted in the lake began. It began with lands decline and this lower area was then filled with a salty water of the Thetys Sea. This was until the so-called Danube Glacier loosened. Today’s sediments of the lake have their origin in the Danube Glacier. Very interesting is also the fact that Lake Neusiedl dried out in the 19th century. Fortunately, it didn’t vanish and we have this unique opportunity to admire it even today.
Up to 2000 hours of sunlight every year is the reason why the lake is popular among tourists. They can enjoy there many sports such as yachts, surfing, kite-surfing, hiking, golfing or biking. Services such as bike rental or rental of other sporting equipment are commonplace. It is good to refresh yourself after sporting activities. the Region of Burgenland offers top-notch gastronomy, delicacies, great wine gathered in wine-growing regions of Lake Neusiedl. Fans of culture will love this place in summer for there are held operettas, classical concerts and other musical events. They also can visit art-galleries, museums and exhibitions of many artists. These only complete cultural activities around the lake.
Perhaps the greatest bonus of this region is nature. International national parks offer a view on unique flora and fauna represented by rare species of plants, birds, steppe cattle or Mangalitsa, a breed of pig.
Haven’t you visited this place yet, we sincerely recommend you for Lake Neusiedl is a combination of beautiful nature, sports and great gastronomy. Perhaps the best is if you go by bike from Bratislava to Sopronas we (the Infoglobe editor staff) did. It was a beautiful experience we will not forget for a long time.
Text and photo: Oskár Mažgút
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