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The Rhine

The Rhine has always played an important role in the economic development of the regions alongside it. Navigable over more than 800 kilometres, between its mouth and the Swiss town of Basel, the large European river acts as an economic route on which millions of tonnes of goods are transported each year. In 2011, this figure rose to 187 million tonnes. One of the largest economic centres in Europe is located on the edge of the River Rhine: the immense industrial complex of the Ruhr, made up by the conglomeration of around ten German towns, has some 5.2 million inhabitants. From the end of the 18th century, the hydraulic power of the River Rhine was converted into electricity, through a series of hydroelectric works built along the waterway.Some of these structures can be visited, like in Kembs, in the Haut-Rhin department.

  • Passerelle des Deux Rives

    In conjunction with the first cross-border garden show in 2004, Kehl and Strasbourg linked the French and German banks of the Rhine with a "passerelle" - a bridge for the sole use of pedestrians and cyclists. © Peter Heck

  • Fish ladder in Gambsheim

    Weirs, locks and a fish ladder at Gambsheim. To meet shipping, agricultural and power generation requirements, weirs and hydraulic plants have been built on the River Rhine. These often create obstacles difficult for migrating fish to overcome on their way to their spawning ground. To enable them to reach the Rhine basin, Germany and France signed an agreement in 1997 to construct fish ladders at the hydro-electric plants in Iffezheim and Gambsheim. The Gambsheim fish ladder, opened in 2006, is the largest in Europe. An observation room enables visitors to watch the salmon, eels, trout and river herrings on their way upstream.

  • The Rhine Falls

    Only a few hundred metres downstream from Schaffhausen is one of Europe's most powerful and impressive waterfalls. 150 metres wide and 23 metres high water flows over the falls at an average of 750 m3 per second. The wild spectacle of the Rhine hurtling over the rocks attracts hundres of thousands of sightseers every year. Boat rides enable visitors to get even closer to the falls.

  • The port of Rotterdam

    The second largest city in the Netherlands after Amsterdam, Rotterdam, is the industrial heart of the country. Located at the mouth of the Rhine and the Meuse, its strategic position provides an economic outlet for western Germany and makes the region one of the most dynamic in Europe. Its facilities stretch over 28 kilometres making it the fourth largest port in the world and the largest in Europe. Alongside Le Havre in France, Rotterdam's deep water "Europoort" is the only port in Europe capable of accommodating supertankers and their cargo of 400,000 tons of fuel. Refineries and petrochemical plants abound in the region.

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