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Thread: Riverless cities & island cities in Europe

  1. #1
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    Post Riverless cities & island cities in Europe



    Most of the great cities in the world developed around major rivers. The Hudson River in New York, the Yangtze in Shanghai, the Gange in Dehli and Calcutta, several rivers in Tokyo...

    Almost all big cities in Europe, like on any other continent, are traversed by a river, often splitting the city in two halves, like in Paris, London or Budapest.

    Nevertheless, a few major cities in Europe do not have a river, or at least not a proper river, but just a small stream.

    River-less cities are typically coastal cities built against a mountain flank, like Athens, Naples or Marseille (all founded by the Ancient Greeks, incidentally).

    This is also the case of Copenhagen, built on the peninsula of an island, since divided by a canal cutting through the city centre.

    Other kinds of river-less cities are the island cities, like Stockholm, built over a cluster of coastal islands, or Venice.

    There has been a few case on inland island cities. It was the case of Paris originally, which was founded on what is now called l'Ile de la Cité on the Seine. Strasbourg developed on an island on an arm of the Rhine.

    Another French city, Lille has a name deriving from l'île ("the island") for the same reason. Liège in Belgium was also originally founded on two big islands on the Meuse River, each bigger than the one on which Paris was built.

    Rare are the cases of major cities that have neither a river nor an access to the sea. I can only think of two : Milan and Brussels. Well, both of them have a small unnavigable stream, but it is so tiny that it goes unnoticed nowadays. The Senne in Brussels now runs underground, so that the only chance to have a glimpse at it is outside the city. The Olona in Milano looks just a small canal on the side of the city centre. It is mostly under the road level.

    We could wonder how these two cities managed to become some of Europe's most important cities, respectively the financial and fashion capital of Italy, and the capital of Belgium and the EU, without water in its environment.

    Brussels did get a canal to remedy to the water transport problem. But as a resident in the city I miss the presence of a river, and this unfortunately can't be changed. The canal being quite narrow and totally overtaken by industries, it cannot replace the atmosphere of a tree-lined river with embankments fitted out for promenades.

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    Everywhere has at least a small river. I would think the United Kingdom would be a good source of almost riverless or small-rivered-cities, due to the fact that, the British isles just dosen't have the landmass and extremes of altitude like the Eurasian mainland ...

    Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Derry, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Cardiff, Bristolw, Bournemouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, London, Coventry, Leicester, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Stoke, Nottingham, Birkenhead, Liverpool, Salford, Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Kirklees, Sheffield, Hull, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Gateshead, South Shields and Newcastle.

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    Košice (one of my favourite places on the face of the earth) has a minor river. Actually, you woudn't even know it has one at all if the train to get there weren't called "the Hornád".


    The river once ran straight through this charming city but it was reverted a long time ago. When the townspeople complained long enough the city built a slender concrete "stream" down the main thouroughfare, in the very same way that was done in Freiburg im Breisgau. :)

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    Thank you very much for this information.

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