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Neckar near Heidelberg.jpg
Neckar river near Heidelberg.
Origin Black Forest
Mouth Rhine
49°30′43″N 8°26′14″E / 49.51194°N 8.43722°E / 49.51194; 8.43722Coordinates: 49°30′43″N 8°26′14″E / 49.51194°N 8.43722°E / 49.51194; 8.43722
Basin countries Germany
Length 367 km (228 mi)
Source elevation 706 m (2,320 ft)
Avg. discharge 145 m3/s (5,100 cu ft/s)
Basin area 14,000 km2 (5,400 sq mi)

The Neckar is a 367 km (228 mi) long river, mainly flowing through the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, but also a short section through Hesse in Germany. The Neckar is a major right tributary of the River Rhine. Rising in the Black Forest near Villingen-Schwenningen in the conservation area Schwenninger Moos at a height of 706 m (2,320 ft) above sea level, it passes through Rottweil, Rottenburg am Neckar, Kilchberg, Tübingen, Nürtingen, Plochingen, Esslingen, Stuttgart, Ludwigsburg, Marbach, Heilbronn and Heidelberg, before discharging into the Rhine at Mannheim (at 95 m (310 ft) above sea level).

From Plochingen to Stuttgart, the Neckar valley is densely populated and covered with industrial areas, including several well-known companies, e.g. Daimler AG, the maker of Mercedes Benz cars, and Mahle GmbH. Between Stuttgart and Lauffen, the Neckar cuts a scenic meandering and in many places steep-sided valley into fossiliferous Triassic limestones and Pleistocene travertine. Along the Neckar's valley in the Odenwald hills, many castles can be found, like Burg Hornberg and Burg Guttenberg in Haßmersheim, but also the closed Obrigheim Nuclear Power Plant and the active Neckarwestheim Nuclear Power Plant. After passing Heidelberg, the Neckar discharges on average 145 m3/s (5,100 cu ft/s) of water into the Rhine, which makes the Neckar its 4th largest tributary, and the 10th largest river in Germany.

The name Neckar was derived from Nicarus and Neccarus from Celtic Nikros, meaning wild water or wild fellow. Since about 1100, Black Forest wood was transported by timber rafting, e.g. to Holland for the use in shipyards.

During the 19th century, traditional horse-drawn boats were replaced by steam boats that used a 155 km (96 mi) long chain in the river to pull themselves upstream. The railway made it possible to transport timber to the port of Heilbronn, limiting timber rafting to the lower part of the Neckar after 1899. Thanks to the construction of 11 locks, ships up to 1500t could travel to Heilbronn in 1935.

The Neckar river in southwest Germany, flows from south to north, emptying to the Rhine at Mannheim.
Houses in Tübingen reflected in the Neckar
The Neckar river in Stuttgart

By 1968, the last of 27 locks, at Deizisau, was completed, making the Neckar navigable for cargo ships about 200 km upstream from Mannheim up to the river port of Plochingen, where the Fils joins, and where the Neckar bends, taking a Northwestern instead of a Northeastern direction. Other important ports include Stuttgart, Heilbronn and Mannheim.

The river's course provides a popular route for cyclists, especially during the summer months. Its steep valley sides are used as vineyards, to cultivate mainly Trollinger.


Towns along the Neckar

From its source to its confluence with the Rhine:

Main tributaries


External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

NECKAR, a river of Germany, and a right-bank tributary of the Rhine, rises between the Black Forest and the Swabian Alb, near Schwenningen, in Wurttemberg, at an altitude of 2287 ft. As far as Rottweil only a mountain stream, it here attains the volume of a river, flows N. as far as Horb, thence in a north-easterly direction, and with rapid current it passes Rottenburg and the university town of Tubingen, taking then a generally northerly course. From Esslingen the Neckar becomes broader and deeper and its valley very picturesque, and after passing Cannstatt, from which point it is navigable for small craft, it flows through vine-clad hills by the pleasant village of Marbach, Schiller's birthplace, receives at Besigheim the waters of its most considerable tributary, the Enz, swirls down by Lauffen, and enters the beautiful vale of Heilbronn. Hence, between hills crowned by frequent feudal castles, it runs by Wimpfen and by Hornberg, where Gdtz von Berlichingen lived, to Eberbach, where it enters the sandstone formation of the Odenwald. It now takes a tortuous westerly course, and the scenery on its banks becomes more romantic. Winding down by Neckarsteinach and Neckargemund between lofty wooded heights, it sweeps beneath the Kanigsstuhl (1900 ft.), washes the walls of Heidelberg, and now quitting the valley enters the plain of the Rhine and falls into that river from the right at Mannheim. Its length is 247 m., and its drainage area 479 0 sq. m. Its more important tributaries are the Enz, Eschach and Glatt (left), and the Fils, Rems, Kocher and Jagst (right). It is navigable for small steamboats up to Heilbronn, for boats up to Cannstatt, and for rafts from Rottweil. It is the principal waterway of Wurttemberg, and is greatly used for floating down timber. From Rottenburg downwards its banks are almost everywhere planted with vineyards. Up to Frankfort it has been deepened and the channel otherwise improved. A committee, chiefly promoted by the Wurttemberg government and the Stuttgart chamber of commerce, reported in 1901 that it was both desirable and practicable to dredge the river and to canalize it, from Esslingen down to Mannheim, and that the cost would probably be between 2 and 22 millions sterling.

See T. Eckart, Bilder aus dem Neckartal (1893).

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Simple English

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The Neckar (German: Neckar) is a 367 km long river in the South-West of Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Rising in the Black Forest, it flows through a steep valley in the Odenwald hills and passes through the cities of Tübingen (University), Nürtingen, Esslingen, Stuttgart (capitol of Baden-Württemberg, and Heidelberg (University). In Mannheim the Neckar joins the river Rhine.


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