hidden europe 57


by hidden europe

Picture above: The lock at Kurzyniec marks the border between Belarus (left) and Poland (right). Only waterborne traffic may cross the border here (photo © hidden europe).


Canals which breach great drainage divides are always interesting. There's one, opened in 1992, which links the River Danube with the River Main, the latter a tributary of the Rhine. So today it's possible to travel on a ship through the very heart of Europe from the North Sea to the Black Sea.

The Augustów Canal is a fine example of a summitlevel canal, ie. an artificial waterway which uses a series of locks to climb up to a higher central section before dropping down again. This kind of canal links two different drainage basins, but poses special engineering challenges in keeping an adequate supply of water in the uppermost part of the canal. That summit section of the Augustów Canal is ten kilometres long.

Europe’s canonical example of a summit-level canal is the Canal du Midi in south-west France, constructed in the late 17th century to link Toulouse with the Mediterranean.

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