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Danube River Ports

Amsterdam

The city of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, diamonds, music and fun, Amsterdam has attracted visitors for centuries. It offers hours of pleasure each day along its numerous canals, its shopping streets and in art galleries and museums in its compact city center. Dam Square facing the Royal Palace in the heart of the city is the site for festivals and shows, Leidesplein is where you can see a huge variety of street performance art. There's serious music in the Concertgebouw, dance and Opera in the modern Muziek Theater, art in the Van Gogh Museum and the renovated Rijksmuseum, and history in Ann Frank's House.

Connected to the Danube by the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

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Xanten

A Roman city in the Lower Rhine region of Germany, with a charming restored city center and a beautiful cathedral. Remnants of Roman baths dating from the time of Emperor Hadrian have been excavated and put on display under a protective glass and steel building, and other relics of the Roman settlement can be seen in the archaeological park. The city's cathedral is richly decorated to reflect its importance as a regional church second only to Cologne Cathedral. You can pause for a snack of fresh bread and a coffee at a working windmill and one of Xanten's most striking landmarks - Kriemhild mill.

Connected to the Danube by the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

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Cologne

You can't miss Cologne's Cathedral in the heart of the city center. It's one of the world's finest examples of Gothic church building and is not a museum but a living place of worship and the meeting point for visitors from all over the world. The city is the capital of the Rhine region and has a lively arts scene with exhibitions and fairs all year round. You can walk around the alleyways and narrow streets of the compact old town within medieval city walls, and find numerous cafés and bars, and admire the historic Deutz and Hohenzollern bridges. Schildergasse is Cologne's main shopping street and you'll find boutiques and designer outlets also in nearby streets and the famous Neumarkt Passage. If you have a sweet tooth, then a visit to the Imhoff-Stollwerk Chocolate Museum is a must.

Connected to the Danube by the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

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Koblenz

The city has grown since Roman times at the place where two great rivers meet, the Rhine and the Moselle surrounded by tree-covered hills. Castles and fortresses reflect the strategic  importance of the location at what is known as Deutsches Eck or German Corner, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can see many of them best on a river boat trip. Modern Koblenz is a vibrant city of art, music and shopping. Löhrstrasse is traffic-free zone full of stores, bars and restaurants, and you can take a stroll along the narrow streets and historic squares of the old town.

Connected to the Danube by the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

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Rüdesheim

A romantic city at the heart of the Rheingau wine region, where you can taste fine Riesling and Pinot Noir wines and explore ancient castles and palaces. You can taste the region's main products at a wine museum and at the visitor's center of the Asbach distillery where Germany's famous liquor is made. Drosselgasse, a narrow street in the old town, is lined with wine bars and gardens. Nearby, Siegfried's Mechanical Music Cabinet is an unusual museum of automated musical instruments. The Foltermuseum located in anceinet vaulted cellars is devoted to torture and witch-hunting in the middle ages. The Niederwald monument gives a splendid view across the Rheinland-Palatinate countryside and the vine-clad hillsides that surround the city.

Connected to the Danube by the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

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Aschaffenburg

Aschaffenburg was called the Nice of Bavaria by King Ludwig I because of its convivial Mediterranean atmosphere. It's home to Germany's largest Renaissance palace, the Johannisburg Castle, which is full of art treasures. The Pompejanum is a reconstructed Roman villa and the Rosso Bianco museum houses the world's largest collection of sports cars.

Connected to the Danube by the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

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Miltenberg

A charming medieval riverside village in Bavaria where you can see splendid timber-frame houses preserved from the 16th and 17th centuries when Miltenberg was a prosperous trading town and timber from the surrounding forests was free to the citizens for building homes. Schloss Miltenberg was built by the Archbishops of Mainz in 13th century as a defensive fortress and is now owned by the city council.  The view from the watchtower over the forests and valley is worth the climb up the hill. Pause for refreshment at the town's oldest bar, the Weinhaus in the market square, or visit Brauhaus Faust where the local beer is brewed.

Connected to the Danube by the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

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Würzburg

A university town on the River Main, surrounded by vineyards of the Franconia wine region. You can sample the local products at the Bürgerspital zum Heiligen Geist winery in the town center. For shopping, explore Domstrasse and Schönbornstrasse in the traffic-free zone. The Marienberg Citadel is the town's main landmark.  The Residenz Palace is one of Europe's best royal palaces and a fine example of Baroque architecture, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, with one of the town's most magnificent gardens.

Connected to the Danube by the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

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Bamberg

Just like Rome, Bamberg was built on seven hills and is an ancient seat of church power, which is maybe why the town is dominated by the cathedral with its four towers. The old town is a motley collection of medieval and Baroque buildings set along narrow winding streets, and the fisherman's village beside an old canal is known as Little Venice. The Green Market, lined with Baroque houses and the Jesuit church, is the hub of modern city life. Look out for the Old Town Hall, built on an island in the river because, it's said, the powerful local bishop refused to give any land to the citizens.

Connected to the Danube by the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

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Nüremberg

Nüremberg is a bustling modern city with touches of a bygone age. Kaiserburg Castle dominates the old part of town which also has Gothic churches where you can find impressive works of art. A modern craft centre, the Handwerkerhof, stands next to old timber-framed buildings that now house workshops and a gingerbread bakery. The modern city center is small but has all the shopping and cultural amenities of a major city.

Connected to the Danube by the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

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Riedenburg

You will be dazzled by emeralds and other precious stones at the Crystal Museum in Riedenburg which has exhibits telling the history of gemstones and jewelry down the ages. The town has two ancient monuments, Rosenburg Castle where you can see demonstrations of falconry in the courtyard, and Prunn Castle, one of the best-known castles of Bavaria.

Connected to the Danube by the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

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Kelheim

Kelhiem is a medieval city and the gateway to the Danube Gorge, where the river has cut through the limestone to create a dramatic rocky landscape. Weltenburg Abbey sits at the bottom of the cliffs, and has a ceiling fresco depicting Heavenly Jerusalem. It also has a brewery that can trace its origins in beer-making as far back as 1050, and beer is still served in the Abbey's garden by waiters and waitresses in traditional costume.  The city itself is home to the Franciscan church which has a collection of old restored church organs. You can stroll along the quaint narrow streets of the old town where there are numerous small shops and cafés.

Connected to the Danube by the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

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Regensburg

Regensburg can claim to have two thousand years of living history and is Germany's best preserved medieval town, largely untouched by wars down the centuries. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today it's a vibrant riverside town with fascinating museums and art galleries, most remarkably the Palace of St Emmeram which is the ancestral home of the famous Thurn und Taxis aristocratic family. The interior of the princely residence is fabulously decorated and the stables house a carriage museum. A favourite spot for visitors and locals is the ancient stone bridge across the Danube river.

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Passau

Passau is a charming city that sits where three rivers meet, the Danube, the Inn and the Ils. The rivers and shipping have been central to the life of the city for centuries, and Passau is the starting point for many river cruises. Passau's prosperity in past ages attracted the talents of Italian Baroque designers and their legacy is a city of large squares, winding lanes and majestic architecture. St Stephen's Cathedral, located at the highest point of the old town, boasts the world's largest church organ. The castle, Veste Oberhaus, was built in the 13th century to control commerce on the rivers and now houses a museum. A modern art gallery is located in a house on the bank of the Danube and a museum within Hotel Wilder Mann displays over 30,000 items of Bohemian glass.

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Munich

Munich is the home of BMW, Bayern Munich soccer club, the October beer festival and a world renowned Opera house, a vibrant modern city that has not lost its traditional Bavarian soul. It's the capital of Bavaria and Germany's most popular city for visitors. The church of Our Lady, with its unusual onion domes, is a landmark in the city center and nearby is the Hofbräuhaus, the most famous beer hall. The city's museums have a vast collection of antiquities from Greek and Roman times and modern art and sculpture and are clustered together in the Art Quarter. The BMW Museum, next to the BMW Tower, displays every type of car and motorcycle that the company has ever produced. The Erdinger Weissbrräu brewery tours are popular with beer enthusiasts. Munich's streets are a delight for anyone on a shopping spree. Maximilianstrasse is the place to look for top-dollar designer clothing from the likes of Gucci, Armani and Yves St Laurent.

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Durnstein

Durnstein is set in some of Austria's most breathtaking scenery within the Wachau Valley, on the banks of the Danube river. The village is overlooked by the ruins of Kuenringer Castle, where the English King Richard the Lionheart is said to have been held prisoner for a time. A climb up the hill is rewarded with spectacular views along the river valley. The Wacau area is one of Austria's most important wine producing regions and Durnstein has numerous small-scale wineries and taverns where you can taste the local product. The village is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has numerous well-preserved medieval and Baroque houses. The streets are so narrow that motor vehicles can't get down them so a stroll is undisturbed by noise and fumes. Durnstein Monastery is built on a rock that protects it when the river floods. Its distinctive blue and white tower in Baroque style is a riverside landmark, close to where the river boats tie up. The interior is decorated with beautiful frescoes and fine paintings.

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Vienna

Vienna has been a city of style, music, art and romance for centuries. Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Strauss all lived here, the Museum of Fine Art houses priceless works of art;  even some of the city's subway stations are listed for their ornamental styling. Vienna is steeped in history but has all the amenities of a modern international capital city. In the center is the magnificent St Stephen's cathedral, built in Gothic style but with a very large roof and a narrow tower. Nearby is the Blutgasse district of medieval houses and quaint courtyards. The Vienna Opera House, built in the 1860s, is more Italian Renaissance in style. In Linke Wiezeile there are two remarkable houses in art deco style. The new public library is a piece of modern architecture and its roof terrace is one of the best vantage points for views across the city. Spare some time to sit at one of Vienna's famous sidewalk cafés for a coffee and a pastry - it's a tradition and  daily ritual.

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Melk

Melk is a quaint riverside town where the Danube and Melk rivers meet, and is best known for its huge Benedictine monastery, which sits on the site of a castle of past rulers of Austria. The main buildings are set around seven courtyards, and the complex includes a high school and a restaurant. The Baroque-style abbey church is the most prominent structure and richly decorated with frescoes. The monastery is vast and has a park and garden pavilion open to the public. The history of the monastery is told in a museum occupying a series of rooms, the greatest of which is the Marble Hall. The Imperial Corridor and Rooms give the feel of a royal palace more than a monastery. While walking around the streets below, you may spot fragments of the old town walls. On the riverbank, the shipping master's house bears the high tide marks indicating the level of disastrous river floods. The old post office is now a local museum. Just outside the town is Schloss Schallaburg, a castle in Renaissance style with a two-storey arcaded courtyard.

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Bratislava

The city's location on the banks of the Danube made it a crossroads of trading routes for centuries and the result is a rich mix of cultural influences. Bratislava was an important city of the Austro-Hungarian empire and today it is Europe's youngest modern capital city following the split of Czechoslovakia into two countries in 1993 and Slovakia's entry into the European Union in 2004. The city is developing rapidly but retains its unique charm and elegance. The Old Town is full of buildings with distinctive red roofs. The Bishops' Palace houses a large collection of English tapestries woven in London in the 17th century. The city's historic center has been renovated while new buildings have sprung up including a new National Theatre on the Danube waterfront and a state-of-the-art National Tennis Center which is a venue for international tournaments, including the Davis Cup. Bratislava is also a city of music - Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven worked here - and Opera and orchestra concerts are a major part of the modern cultural scene.

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The Danube Bend

A striking feature of the Danube is a section in Hungary where its course changes abruptly from flowing east to a southerly direction. It's a very scenic part of the country with a cluster of picturesque little towns rising from the river bank up the green hillsides and valleys, each with winding cobbled streets, market squares and brightly colored houses. Szentendre is a favourite place for painters and sculptors to live and work and the town has numerous galleries and workshops displaying their work. The citadel above the sleepy town of Visegrad offers a commanding view of the river and surrounding landscape. Directly across the river on the north bank is the pretty village of Nagymaros. Vác is an attractive small town built in Baroque style. Esztergom is perhaps Hungary's most historically important city and was entirely rebuilt after being destroyed by the forces of the Turkish Ottoman empire.

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Esztergom, Hungary

The original capital city of Hungary, it was here that the first king of Hungary, St Stephen, was crowned in AD 1000. It is still the seat of the Catholic church in Hungary. The basilica is the largest church in Hungary and you get a great view the city from its panorama terrace. The Bakócz Chapel is a fine example of Hungarian Renaissance artwork. A museum in the Primate's Palace in the Watertown district has a huge collection of church art treasures, including Italian, Dutch and Austrian paintings, tapestries, Orthodox icons and decorative sculptures. The city's main square has been renovated to show off the Baroque facades of the buildings to best effect. The Maria Valeria Bridge links the city with Sturovo across the river and border in Slovakia. The original bridge was destroyed in the Second World War and rebuilt with European Union funding in 2001.

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Budapest

Two cities in one, Buda on the hillside and Pest on the flat land across the Danube, this is the city of mineral spas and Turkish baths fed by natural spring water from the surrounding hills. The biggest and most elaborate is the Gellért which now also has a modern outdoor waterpark of recreational pools in the grounds. The Rudas and the Lukács Baths are more traditional and sunshine streams in through holes in domed roofs above the thermal pools. On the riverbank sits the Parliament building, a vast ornate Gothic masterpiece which dominates the waterfront. On the hill opposite is the Castle district with its citadel, royal palace and Cathedral, and beneath is a warren of natural caves and tunnels. Margaret Island in the middle of the river is a favourite spot for relaxation and a picnic, a haven of peace away from the bustling city streets of the modern city.

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Mohacs

This pretty town on the Danube river bank has an ethnically mixed population and a variety of folk traditions as a result, so you can enjoy lots of music and dancing. Pottery in a distinctive charcoal grey color is made in Mohacs using an unusual firing process that makes the clay carbonise. In the summer old clay pots are used to make spicy bean soup on wood fires outdoors, and there's a lot of competition to find who can make the best soup. In the spring time the locals take part in a strange folk festival dressed in animal skins and masks. Mohacs is best known to Hungarians as the site of a battle in 1526 in the forces of the Turkish Ottoman empire triumphed - a key event in the country's history, marked by memorial park on the edge of town.

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Novi Sad, Serbia

Novi Sad is traditionally Serbia's cultural city and home to the National Theater and the national ballet company. More recently it has become well-known for Exit, a massive modern music festival staged each summer in Petrovaradin Fortress, located on a rocky promontory where the Danube river - known locally as the Dunav - takes a tight bend. The Exit festival grew out of a drive by young people to make music at a time when the city had been battered by the conflict that led to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1999. The city has recovered and grown in confidence since then. It's also an important university town and has a renowned art academy. The city center has been renovated and restored as a place for shopping and social life. Near a sleek suspension bridge the riverbank has been transformed into a waterside park, The Beach. Across the river is Fruska Gora mountain, a rocky ridge that stands above the surrounding flat lands of the Pannonian Plain. Here you'll find numerous Orthodox monasteries renowned for creating hand-painted icons.

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Belgrade, Serbia

The capital city of Serbia and the former federal state of Yugoslavia sits where the Danube and the Sava rivers meet. It's one of the oldest cities in Europe after Athens, and is now a bustling modern urban centre. It has a colourful history of conflict down the ages, with Turkish invaders in past centuries and more recently when the city and the country were taken up with conflict and economic sanctions in the 1990s prior to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. The area closest to the river is dominated by Kalemegdan fortress which has an extensive park where the locals like to stroll. The land across the river has been redeveloped with modern buildings and is known as New Belgrade. Here you will find the Sava Center, a complex of concert venues, conference halls, shopping malls and exhibition space. The old part of Belgrade has wide boulevards and squares, the most impressive Republic Square. Around the city streets coffee shops give Belgrade a touch of Viennese café culture.

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Iron Gate Gorge

As the Danube approaches the Romanian border, the landscape changes from flat land and the river enters a dramatic gorge in the Carpathian mountains, known as the Iron Gate or Derdap in Serbian. At its narrowest point the river is only 160 yards wide. You can see the  ruins of an ancient fort that was built in the 13th century in what was once the fortified town of Golubac. There are also remnants of a Roman bridge that was built by the Emperor Trajan. The Iron Gate Dam is a powerful source of hydro-electricity for the region and navigation is maintained by a series of locks.

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Orsova, Romania

A wide basin extending into a gap in the rocky landscape has given this small Romanian town a role as a river port in the mountains. Mineral water from mountain springs have attracted people here for spa treatments since Roman times. Hercules Spa is the modern equivalent, and takes its name from a legend that bathing in the local thermal spring waters made Hercules stronger and stronger. The legions of Emperor Trajan would have been familiar with the Roman baths, and you can the ruins in various locations around the town. An archaeological museum displays a collection of artefacts from sites in the area and shows that this remote spot has been occupied by human beings for many centuries.

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Oltenita, Romania

This port town once had a thriving ship-building industry, but sadly no more. The yards were closed down after the 1989 revolution and now lay derelict. The port is the stopping place for river boats and cruise ships to enable their passengers to visit the Romanian capital, Bucharest an hour's drive away.

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Bucharest

Bucharest is Romania's largest and most developed city. The old part of the city is undergoing restoration, though much of the historic heart of the city has been lost through war, earthquakes and Communist clearance programs.  Romania's lively capital with its wide tree-lined boulevards and Belle Epoch style buildings was once known as Paris of the East. It even has its own Arc de Triomphe. The Parliament building - the People's Palace - is impressive, the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon. The Royal Palace is now the national art museum. The square in front was the scene of riots that led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship in 1989. Bucharest has a thriving cultural scene with 37 museums, 18 art galleries, numerous theatres and concert halls and jazz clubs. In the northern suburbs a large park has been converted into the Village Museum, a collection of houses and mills from down the ages. A Botanical Garden has been established in a former private park of the royal family. In University Square a monument marks Kilometre Zero, the point from which distances are referenced in Romania.

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Tulcea, Romania

Tulcea sits at the entrance to the Danube delta, where the wetlands are rich in bird life. The area is a protected wildlife park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over 300 species of birds can be spotted. You can find out a lot about the Danube Delta in the Natural History Museum.

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Russe, Bulgaria

Russe is located on the high right bank of the Danube River and is the largest Bulgarian city on the Danube. It stands opposite the Romanian city of Giurgiu, linked by the Friendship Bridge. About 200 buildings in Russe are listed in the architectural and historical heritage of Bulgaria.

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