Podersdorf Lighthouse | Accidentally Wes Anderson

Podersdorf Lighthouse

Podersdorf am See, Austria | C.1998

Photo Credit: Thomas Lenz

Just a stone’s throw away from the small town of Podersdorf am See is the expansive Lake Neusiedl, home to abundant wildlife and a thriving ecosystem. The Podersdorf Lighthouse is a relatively new addition to this enchanting environment, which has been at the center of a tug of war between industrialists and environmentalists for centuries.

People have dwelled in the region since 9 AD. Archival records exist that reveal deforestation of oak woods by its earliest inhabitants. The area was also often exposed to raids by nomadic peoples—the Huns, Magyars, Avars—who swept through on horseback. This territorial turnover continued into the 20th century, when the town was enveloped by Austria after World War I.

Like Podersdorf am See, the history of Lake Neusiedl is an unsteady one. The massive body of water has endured fluctuating levels and has dried up at least 100 times since its formation—though today, it measures in at a massive 122 square miles. During the early half of the 20th century, there were talks to construct dams and divide the lake bed to use parts for agriculture, but the plans never went through.

By 1971, plans to build a bridge across part of the Lake were announced, but a group of environmentalists put a halt to it. That same year, the international Ramsar Convention on Wetlands placed the Lake under its protection. Ever since, the Lake has thrived, offering dense surrounding reeds as a temporary habitat for migratory birds or humans seeking housing material.

One of the three lighthouses in all of landlocked Austria, it sits at the end of a jetty and keeps watch over boaters on the Lake. Surrounded by a lido, or bathing area, the Lighthouse welcomes all to relax in the aquatic oasis of Lake Neusiedl, while offering a tumultuous region a hopeful symbol of permanence.

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