Geographical midpoint of Europe
The location of the geographical centre of Europe depends on the definition of the borders of Europe, mainly whether remote islands are included to define the extreme points of Europe, and on the method of calculating the final result. Thus, several places claim to host this hypothetical centre.
Locations currently vying for the distinction of being the centre of Europe include:
- the town of Suchowola, north of Białystok, in northeast Poland;
- the village of Kremnické Bane or the neighbouring village Krahule, near Kremnica, in central Slovakia;
- the small town of Rakhiv, or the village of Dilove near Rakhiv, in western Ukraine;
- the village of Bernotai, or Purnuškės, near Vilnius, in Lithuania;
- a point on the island of Saaremaa in Estonia;
- a point near Polotsk, or in Vitebsk, or near Babruysk, or near lake Sho in Belarus;
- a point near town of Tállya, in north-eastern Hungary;
As noted below, Guinness World Records recognises Bernotai, 26 km. north of Vilnius, Lithuania, as the official geographical midpoint of Europe. But that does not preclude other centres, depending on the methodology used in making the determination.
- The first official declaration of the Centre or Europe was made in 1775 by the Polish royal astronomer and cartographer Szymon Antoni Sobiekrajski, and calculated to be in the town Suchowola near Białystok in nowadays north-eastern Poland. The method used was that of calculating equal distances from the extreme points of Europe: in Portugal (W) vs. Central Ural (E), in Norway (N) vs. Southern Greece (S), (islands were not taken into consideration). There is a monument commemorating that fact in Suchowola .
- Modern day Slovakia. About 1815 there was a declaration that the centre of Europe is located in the village of Kremnické Bane, near the mining town of Kremnica, on a hill that forms water division between the basins of Baltic Sea and Black Sea, near St. John Baptist Church. The method used for calculating it is unknown, but from the description given on the commemorative plaque located near the church , is seems that it has been the centre of the smallest circle circumscribed on Europe (yet the limits of Europe taken into consideration are not known). The title of the "Centre of Europe" is also claimed by the neighbouring village Krahule (ancient Blaufuß), which used to belong to the same parish, now a famous centre for winter sports, with a hotel and recreation centre called "Stred Európy" ("Centre of Europe").
- Transcarpathia, modern day Ukraine: In 1887, geographers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire set up a historical marker and a large stone in what is today a part of Ukraine, believed to mark the geographic centre of Europe. The interpretation of the worn Latin inscription on the monument is debated, with some claiming that the marker is merely one of a number of fixed triangulation points for surveying purposes established around the territory of the former Empire. The external borders of Europe taken into account during the calculations are not known. According to the description, the methodology used for the calculation is that of the geometrical middle point of the extreme latitudes and longitudes of Europe, so the stone was located at . However, the actual location of the monument seems rather and not the coordinates to which they relate. This is near the village of Dilove located on the Tisza river, close to the Romanian border, in the county of Rakhiv in the Transcarpathian region.
- Modern day Czech Republic/Bavaria: Austrian geographers also marked the 939 metre high Tillenberg (Dyleň) near the Bohemian city of Eger/Cheb with a copper plate as the centre of Europe. As the border to Germany/Bavaria runs 100m west of the mountaintop, the German village of Neualbenreuth uses this for promotional purposes. Bayerischer Rundfunk journalists asked the Institut für Geographie of the University of Munich to verify the claims. The institute concluded that the centre lies further to the south, in Hildweinsreuth near Flossenbürg.
Measurements done after World War II by Soviet scientists again proclaimed Rakhiv and Dilove (in Russian: Rakhov and Dyelovoye) to be the geographical centre of Europe. The old marker in the small town was renewed, and a major campaign to convince everyone of its validity was undertaken.
After a re-estimation of the boundaries of the continent of Europe in 1989, Jean-George Affholder, a scientist at the Institut Géographique National (French National Geographic Institute) determined that the Geographic Centre of Europe is located at . The method used for calculating this point was that of the centre of gravity of the geometrical figure of Europe. This point is located in Lithuania, specifically 26 kilometres (16 mi) north of its capital city, Vilnius, near the village of Purnuškės. A monument, composed by the sculptor Gediminas Jokūbonis and consisting of a column of white granite surmounted by a crown of stars, was erected at the location in 2004. An area of woods and fields surrounding the geographic centre point and including Lake Girija, Bernotai Hill, and an old burial ground, was set aside as a reserve in 1992. The State Tourism Department at the Ministry of Economy of Lithuania has classified the Geographic Centre monument and its reserve as a tourist attraction. This location is the only one listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the geographical centre of Europe. 17 km away lies Europos Parkas, Open Air Museum of the Centre of Europe, a sculpture park containing the world's largest sculpture made of TV sets.
It is claimed that a 1992 survey found that the geometric centre of Europe is in the village of Tállya, Hungary . In 2000, a sculpture was erected in the village, with a table on it declaring the place the "Geometric Centre of Europe".
If all the islands of Europe, from Azores to the Franz Joseph Land and from Crete to Iceland, are taken into consideration, it is claimed that the centre of Europe lies on the island of Saaremaa in western Estonia, in Mõnnuste village, at . Again, no author and no method of calculation was disclosed. The local Kärla Parish is looking to verify the location and turn it into a tourist location.
Recently a new claim has been made that Vitebsk in northeastern Belarus, or alternatively Babruysk in the western part of the province of Mahilyow of the eastern Belarus, is the centre of Europe.
Scientists from Russian Central Research Institute of Geodesy, Aerial Survey and Cartography (Russian: ЦНИИГАиК) confirmed calculations of Belarusian geodesists that the geographical centre of Europe is located in Polotsk . A small monument to the Geographical Centre of Europe was set up in Polotsk on May 31, 2008.
Possibly mistaken claims
Certain people might mistakenly take two notions: "geographical centre of Europe" and "geographical centre of a country lying (approximately) in the centre of Europe" to be synonymous. Such seems the genesis of the claims that the centre of Europe lies in the following places.
- Číhošť near Ledeč nad Sázavou, Czech Republic - place of the geometrical centre of the Czech Republic. Although the Czech Republic considers itself a "country in the heart of Europe", this point does not claim to be a centre of the whole Europe.
- Piątek in the centre of Poland.
- Braunau am Inn in Austria, in the province of Upper Austria (Oberösterreich), on the border with Germany - was declared the centre of Europe supposedly by Napoleon Bonaparte himself—certainly not for purely geographical but for political reasons.
Based on distance calculations to the extreme points of Europe (Franz Josef Land in the Northeast, the border between the Russian Federation and the states of Georgia and Azerbaijan at the Caspian Sea in the Southeast, Crete in the South and the Azores in the Southwest) the centre of Europe will surprisingly be found in Southern Norway near in the Telemark region.
If only continental Europe is of interest and outlying islands like Iceland, Franz Josef Land and the Azores are being disregarded, thus having the extreme points in Northern Norway, Gibraltar and again in Crete and the Caucasus region, and again based on distances, the centre of Europe would actually be in Poland, somewhere near somewhat North of the city of Poznań.
Towards the beginning of the second decade of the twenty first century, additional falacious claims have been made concerning the geographical midpoint of Europe. Primary coined the Cezary Calculation, these series of mistakes generally place the centre of Europe in Poland, when Poland is in fact considered by geographers to be part of Eastern Europe.
Geographic centre of the European Union
Other locations have claimed the title of geographic centre of Europe on the basis of calculations taking into account only the territory of those states which are members of the European Union (or formerly - European Community).
As the European Union has been growing the last 50 years, the geographical centre shifted with each expansion.
The calculations of a geographical centre have been made by the French Institut Géographique National (IGN) since at least 1987. These calculations exclude non-Eupopean territories of the European Union, such as French Guiana.
- 12 members: In 1987 the centre of the European Community of the 12 members was declared to be in the middle of France, in the village of Saint-André-le-Coq (63310), département of Puy-de-Dôme (63), région of Auvergne, and next was shifted after the reunification of Germany in 1990 some 25 km north-eastward, to the place called Noireterre in the village of Saint-Clément (03250), département of Allier (03), the same région of Auvergne. A small monument commemorating the latter discovery still exists in Saint Clément.
- 15 members: Using the same techniques, the IGN has identified the geographic centre of the 15-member Union (1995–2004) to be in Viroinval, Belgium, at coordinates , and a monument there records that finding.
- 25 members: The 25-member Union (2004–2007), has a centre calculated by the IGN to be situated at Kleinmaischeid, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. , in the village of
- 27 members: On January 1, 2007, with the inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria in the European Union, the geographic centre of the European Union changed, to a wheat field outside of the German town Gelnhausen, in Hesse, 115 km east of the previous marker, at .
The geographical midpoint of the European Union is not free from disputes, either. If some different extreme points of the European Union, like some Atlantic Ocean islands, are taken into consideration this point is calculated in different locations. Most of them are located now in Germany.
The original centre of the Eurozone is located in France, and in various places for various periods. At some point of time it was near the village of Liernais. This location also changes with the accession of new countries into Eurozone (e.g. Slovakia 2009).
- Gardner, N (November 2005). "Pivotal points: defining Europe's centre". Hidden Europe (5): 20–21. Retrieved 2007-01-11. Useful short English language article that considers the claims of various localities to be the geographical centre of Europe.
A film about the "Center of Europe"
- Jan S. Krogh. "Other Places of Interest: Central Europe".
- "Europos Parkas: Open Air Museum of the Centre of Europe". EU PHARE 2001 Co-operation in the Baltic Sea Region Programme.
- "Tállya Online: Európa Mértani Közepe, Tállya". Archived from the original on 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
- Cristea, George (2001). Jakten på Europas mittpunkt (in Swedish). Stockholm: Carlsson. ISBN 91-7203-435-1.
- "Tállya nevezetességei/Közterületi szobrok/Európa mértani középpontja/DSCF6249". Retrieved 2008-07-01.
- "Kärla vald tahab Euroopa keskpunkti külalistele avada" (in Estonian).
- ".". Belarus Magazine.
- Российские геодезисты подтвердили нахождение центра Европы в Полоцке - Главные новости - БЕЛТА - новости, события, факты, комментарии[dead link]
- "Stránky Miroslava Červeného".
- "Piątek (województwo łódzkie)" (in Polish). Wikipedia.
- Frey, George (2007-01-05). "5 January 2007". Signonsandiego.com. Retrieved 2011-01-03.
- "The Center (Die Mitte)". strandfilm.
Media related to Geographical midpoint of Europe at Wikimedia Commons
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of 30 April 2008 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.