After the afternoon visit in the Schaffhausen museum it was time for us to head to Germany. I decided to ignore the recommendations of the Michelin Green Guide (which I seldom do) and visit one objective that the guide was not giving even one star, but which was deep entrenched in my memory since childhood. As a good pupil in the Romanian schools I had heard that many times that the greatest river in Europe which ends its path in the Delta of the Danube in Romanian territory has its springs some place, in the Black Forest in Germany. I had been as a student at the very end of the path, at Sulina, where the Danube waters flow into the Black Sea. Time had come to see where the path starts.

Driving from Schaffhausen into Germany was as event-less as the majority of the European borders nowadays. No border control, no customs, barely a sign on the road. Still a strange experience for somebody who lived for 31 years without a passport and without the freedom to travel, and now lives in a country where the borders are severely guarded, in some parts neighboring hostile countries.

solar-pannelled stables

The landscape though changes immediately one crosses the German border North of Schaffhausen. The spectacular mountains of Switzerland open to broader plains, there is more farming, and what is striking is the number of solar panels on the buildings – in some cases the full surface of the roofs being covered with solar panels. I just took note and wondered why this extensive use of solar energy in an area that does not get that much sun is not replicated in Israel, where sunshine is a fact of life and weather for the majority of the days of the year.

springs of the Danube

There are some geographical and historical controversies about where the springs of Danube really are. Two small rivers the Breg and the Brigach join in the small city of Donaueschingen. The tourist objective identified with the springs is actually the springs of the Breg, near palace of the princes of Furstenberg. The tourists arriving by their own should be careful to ask for directions when entering the city, as there are no clear signs, despite the popularity of the place. Parking may also be a problem in pick season, we got relatively late on a Saturday afternoon, so we did not encounter any special problems.

Donauequelle Fountain

I can understand why the Michelin is not enthusiastic about the place. It is not spectacular, and it is the emotional significance of the place that prevails. The springs are actually a round fountain, from where water flows with timidity out to start the 2850 kilometers path across the old continent. A marble fountain represents a mother with a child – symbolizes the Baar area around lovingly embracing the baby river.

Romanian inscription at the springs of the Danube

Most if not all nations that the Danube crosses in its way to the Black Sea put memorial inscriptions on the wall near the fountain. Here is the Romanian one.

the church in Donaueschingen

The fountain neighbors the park and the palace of the princes of Furstenberg which can be visited in prearranged tours. We had not arranged anything, and it was anyway quite late in the afternoon, so we just entered the beautiful St. Johann church that is located on the other side of the fountain.

inside the church in Donaueschingen

The building dates from the first half of the 18th century and is built in late Gothic style. It has been recently decorated and its beautiful interior radiates light and tranquility.