As well as Oktoberfest, the Frauenkirche and the English Garden, the Isar is just as much a famous symbol of Munich. After the Danube, the Inn and the Main it is the fourth longest river in Bavaria with a length of 295km and flows through the heart of the state capital. Its origin is in Tyrol (Austria) and it flows into the Danube south of Deggendorf. In the early summer the Isar has an especially high water level due to the melting snow in the Alps.
Picture source: flickr (Allie_Caulfield)
From a City River to a Paradise for Recuperation – land restoration of the river beds
The Isar is not only known for its clear mountain water and the wide, constantly shifting river beds, but also it has been used to generate electricity since the 1920s. However, this benefit is not supported by everyone, since the originally unruly river in Munich has become a canal in some places because of the fortification of its banks. Because of this the environment for various species of animals and plants has been destroyed and the high water level problem has consistently increased in Munich. In the past few years, environmental activists have undertaken various measures to return the Isar to its original condition by land restoration ecology, which improves flood water protection and also creates a recuperation area for the people of Munich. Additionally, the river beds have been expanded in several locations along the Isar, the banks have been levelled and rock ramps that are almost natural as well as gravel islands have been constructed. The existing embankments have also been raised, widened and strengthened, which in addition to the improved flood water protection also created a river landscape that is closer to nature, which again increased the recuperation value of the Isar meadows and gave it back the original character of an “Alpine wild river.” This major project lasting eleven years was concluded in 2011 and also served as an example for international projects, such as the restoration of the LA River in southern California, USA, for example.
The Isar Meadows – a symbol for quality of life and fun for young and old
In addition to the English Garden, the Isar meadows are one of the most important recuperation areas in the Munich urban area. Whether hiking, cycling, swimming or simply only to sunbathe and relax – the Isar meadows offer something for every sort of leisure activity. Thus the river is for example lined with long stretches of cycling and hiking paths which make a cycling tour from the Alps to the Danube possible. The Isar cycling trail is relatively easy to ride on from Mittenwald through Landshut to Plattling.
An exceptional feature of the Isar is the possibility of swimming in the river, which is rarely possible in other rivers within a city populated by millions. Because of the preparation of different sewage plants, the quality of the water has been considerably improved. Thus for experienced swimmers, jumping into the fresh, cool water of the Isar where the current is slow, such as the Flaucher, is a very special experience and just the right thing on hot summer days.
Picture source: flickr (farbfilm)
Furthermore, sign posted hiking paths lead to the English Garden and further into the city or to Lake Unterföhring up to Freising. The Isar meadows also have playgrounds for children and large, laid out lawns where a peaceful, secluded space can always be found to relax in.
The Flaucher is especially suitable for barbecuing, swimming and relaxing on sunny days. It extends from the Brudermühl Bridge across the zoo to the southern city border. The embankment is stony, which is why barbecuing is permitted there. Friends and family meet here to enjoy beautiful days in the sun in a comfortable, relaxed environment, to celebrate or simply to relax and unwind.
The Isar’s River Islands
The Isar also has many smaller and larger river islands and gravel banks that always change in shape and size due to annual flood waters. Therefore several of them were anchored and shored in the 19th century in the immediate area of the larger cities to secure them against these changes. In Munich the two largest cultivated islands are the Musuem Island and the Prater Island.
The Museum Island is the main location of the scientific and technological Deutsches Museum. It has a length of 863 metres and a width of up to 197 metres. It is on the border of the Isarvorstadt and today belongs to the district of Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt.
Bildquelle: flickr (sporst)
Prater Island is 524 metres in length with a maximum width of 95 metres in total. In addition to the “Aktionsforum Praterinsel,” which contains different artists’ workshops and event rooms, the Alpine Museum of the German Alpine Association can also be found on the island. Across the pedestrian bridge there is access to the Museum Island located upstream.
Picture source: flickr (oliworx)