WORLD HERITAGE AND EXPERIENCE LANDSCAPE
Lake Neusiedl is one of the few steppe lakes in Europe, and it lies in the territory of both Austria and Hungary. That alone makes this body of water fascinating. Its considerably larger Austrian portion makes it Austria’s largest body of water. The lakes lying entirely on Austrian territory, for instance in the Salzkammergut, are a bit smaller and Austria’s portion of the larger Lake Constance is rather small.
The lake itself is defined by its incomparable reed belt, its shallow depth and its mild but windy climate. Incidentally, the reeds from Lake Neusiedl are still used for thatching the typical Pannonian roofs. Its unique fauna and flora have not only made it the destination of researchers and experts for decades, but it also became protected by reason of the creation of both the Lake Neusiedl-Seewinkel and Fertő-Hanság National Parks and its designation as a UNESCO-World Heritage site with the title “Culturelandschaft Fertő/Lake Neusiedl”.
The surface of the lake, depending on the water level, amounts on average to 285 km², of which 220 km² lie in Austria and 65 km² in Hungary. The Austrian portion thus forms the largest lake surface in Austria. The catchment area of the lake amounts to 1120 km². The main axis north-south is 34 kilometres, the width (from east to west) between 4.5 and 8 kilometres. The extent of the earth’s curvature between Neusiedl am See and Mörbisch amounts to 9.60 metres. Thus at ground level one cannot see from one end to the other.
The reed belt almost completely surrounding the lake offers a habitat for a unique range of animals and is, after the Danube Delta, the largest continuous area of reeds in Europe. Because of the prevailing north-westerly air flow, significantly fewer reeds grow on the eastern shore than on the western shore. By Donnerskirchen the reed belt is up to five kilometres wide. In contrast, Podersdorf lies on the only reed-free stretch of beach, which is two kilometres long. The reed belt naturally increased greatly between 1909 and 1965, and now covers an area on Austrian territory alone of approaching 100 km².
The lake itself lies in the Little Hungarian Plain, which represents the western foothills of the Hungarian Plain. It is bordered in the north-west by the last foothills of the Alps, the Leitha Hills, and in the north by the Parndorf Plateau. The Seewinkel is to the east, the downland of the Ruster Hügelland to the south-west and the Waasen, also called Hanság in Hungarian, to the south and south-east.
The shallow lake is fed overwhelmingly by precipitation and dewatered by evaporation. Thus the water level is subject to the weather conditions and naturally fluctuates considerably. The water table is on average at about 115.45 m, and the maximum depth is only 1.8 metres. The annual fluctuation margin is around 60 to 80 centimetres. The lowest water level is normally measured in August.
The water of the shallow lake quickly takes on the temperature of the air. Thus on particularly hot days, water temperatures of up to 30 °C are easily reached; though the lake quickly cools down again if a storm front passes through. In summer an average of 22 to 23 °C is recorded.
Bathing and harbour facilities on Lake Neusiedl
Bathing and harbour facilities round Lake Neusiedl in the Neusiedl am See District are at the resorts of Illmitz, Podersdorf, Weiden, Neusiedl am See and Jois, and in the Eisenstadt-Umgebung District, Bridingbrunn am Neusiedlersee, Purbach am Neusiedlersee, Oggau, Freistadt Rust and Mörbisch am See in Austria and Fertőrákos in Hungary.