European inland waters

The history of seafaring, shipping, and shipyards at the Lake Balaton




inland waterways, European Landscape Convention, Lake Balaton, Festetics family, Sio Canal, European waterway


Maritime history and development of waterways is often perceived as a mostly marine issue including activities linked directly to the oceans and seas and their coastal zones. However, inland waters and waterways constitute an important landscape-forming factor in terms of transport, wetland formation, watercourse regulations and flood prevention, agriculture, forestry, fishery, settlement structures, tourism and a number of related services. Lake Balaton in western Hungary is a unique environment regarding its geology, biodiversity, water resources (including springs and thermal waters) and rich cultural heritage. Inland navigation has greatly contributed to the development of settlement structures and trades in the region already from Roman times, but only with the appearance of steamboats and the internationally renowned shipyards the shipping of goods and personal transport reached a larger volume. Since Lake Balaton is a shallow lake, producing ships (both sailing boats and larger vessels) was a technical challenge. The largest shipyard around the lake was in the town of Balatonfüred with some ancillary facilities in Siófok. With the continuous development of railway traffic first on the southern and later on the northern shore successively replaced the goods transport on the lake and changed the system of its water level control through the Sió-channel. In this study, we analyse the development of inland navigation on lake Balaton and its influence on trade and settlement structures and cultural heritage in the region, the connections to international inland waterways through the Sió canal and the River Danube and the changes of ship building industry during history. The article is based on a number of studies on the history of Lake Balaton and a specific focus is put on the industrial era and how international influences have been instrumental in this development.


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How to Cite

Lagerqvist, B., Bornmalm, L., & Nemethy, S. (2021). European inland waters: The history of seafaring, shipping, and shipyards at the Lake Balaton. Ecocycles, 7(1), 73–87.