Cultural project promoting sustainable Danube tourism
With its Danube Connection cultural project, Romania is promoting environmentally friendly eco-tourism in the Danube region and drawing attention to the beauty of the Danube Delta, offering the chance to see the Danube in a different light, as a kind of complete work of art.
How can the cultures of the many different regions along the Danube, all of which have developed independently, be brought together? And how can we do this and, at the same time, promote sustainable Danube tourism and trips to the river’s picturesque Romanian delta? An attempt to achieve all this has been made with Danube Connection, a scheme involving three projects – ‘Plug in to Nature’, ‘Rowmania’ and ‘iMYTH’ – which kicked off in Vienna at the end of June and will travel via Bratislava and Budapest to Tulcea, the gateway to the Danube Delta - a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.
Olympic legend campaigning for the Danube delta
The projects have been organised by Romanian cultural institutes, helped from the start by a living Romanian legend, the four-time Olympic canoeing gold medallist Ivan Patzaichin, who is considered to be one of the most successful environmental and sports activists along the Danube. Since ending his sporting career, Ivan Patzaichin has dedicated himself to protecting the Danube Delta’s biosphere and establishing small industrial centres where traditional handicrafts using natural materials are practised. Patzaichin has invented the ‘catnotca’, a grand barge which he calls ‘water-wheel’. The catnotca is built by hand using historical methods traditional to the Danube Delta and can be rowed by crews of ten. Patzaichin also created a festival especially for this sleek craft, ‘Rowmania’, at which the catnotca was first launched.
Art, culture and racing
The catnotca had its first airing in Vienna at the Gänsehäufel bathing area on the Old Danube, with Ivan Patzaichin present. The event was organised by the ASKÖ Wien sports organisation and the STAW rowing association. Much to the delight of the predominantly younger guests, there was a fun race, with prizes including trips to the Danube Delta up for grabs. The message was clear – the only way forward is to use strength, skill and natural materials like wood. Romania would like to expand this scheme and establish it as a platform for environmentally friendly tourism in the entire Danube region.
Just a few hours after the fun race at the Gänsehäufel, the venerable St Stephen’s Cathedral served as a projection surface for the 20-minute art show ‘iMYTH’, which the Romanian artist Daniel Dorobanţu has based on fables from the Danube region, such as the story of the Danube water nixie and other well-known legends and myths. The outdoor video’s message is that myths, fables and legends also show how the different groups of people along the Danube all belong to the same cultural region, a region that is well worth breathing new life into.
‘Plug in to Nature’ on Karlsplatz
The ‘Danube Collection. Story & Glory’ project will be returning to its starting point in Vienna for its final stage. The show started on Karlsplatz at the end of June and can be viewed there until 23 July. In front of St Charles Church, the ‘Plug in to Nature’ installation by a Romanian artists’ group is being shown in a simple wooden construction with a small Speakers’ Corner. Their aim is to harmonise art with commerce, nature and the environment.
The organisers were keen to point out – diplomatically, of course – that the EU’s new strategy for the Danube region is based on a joint initiative between Vienna and Bucharest. This was started in May 2002 as a regional forum aiming to expand the cooperation process involving the countries along the Danube. It was instigated by the governments in Vienna and Bucharest, the EU commission and the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. Since then, Romania has proved to be a useful collaborative partner on the Danube, particularly for Austria, with several EU-funded joint projects currently on the go. As part of the EU’s strategy for the Danube region, Austria and Romania are jointly coordinating the ‘To improve mobility and multimodality: inland waterways’ priority area.
The Danube – connecting people
With a length of almost 3,000 km, the Danube is the second-longest river in Europe. It links the Black Forest, the Alps, the Hungarian lowlands and the Romanian Carpathian Mountains with the Danube Delta. More than 80 million people live in the Danube region, speaking 25 different languages in a total of 19 countries (the ten countries through which the river flows, plus nine other countries from which it draws water), including the 14 Danube countries, of which six are non-EU members. In October 2010, the European Commission published the EU strategy for the Danube macro-region, its major aims being to link up the Danube region, protect the environment, increase prosperity and strengthen the different areas.
Other dates for the Danube Connection:
Vienna: Until 23 July, Karlsplatz, PLUG IN TO NATURE
Tulcea: 31 August – 2 September, Danube Promenade and Lake Ciuperca ROWMANIA
2 September, 9pm, projection on the Danube Promenade, iMYTH
Romanian Cultural Institute - Vienna
Argentinierstraße 39, 1040 Vienna
T: +431 319 10 81