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Saale(zäl`ə), river, c.265 mi (430 km) long, rising in the Fichtelgebirge, central Germany, and flowing generally N through E central Germany, past Jena, Naumberg (the head of navigation), and Halle, to the Elbe River SE of Magdeburg. The Weisser Elster, Ilm, and Unstrut are the chief tributaries. The Saale's picturesque course is flanked by numerous medieval castles. Wheat, barley, and sugar beets are grown in the fertile lower valley. On the upper part of the river are two large reservoirs, which bring tourism and support hydroelectric power plants. It is also called the Sächsische (Saxonian) or Thüringer Saale to distinguish it from the Fränkische (Franconian) Saale, which flows 84 mi (135 km) SW from the Thüringer Wald, through W Germany, to the Main River. The river has become heavily polluted, largely from chemical plants in industrialized regions such as Halle.
a river in the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany (the upper reaches), a left tributary of the Elbe. Length, 427 km; basin area, about 24,000 sq km. It rises in the spurs of the Fichtel Gebirge and flows in a deep forested valley along the Thuringian Plain and, below Naumburg, along the lowlands. Average discharge at Naumburg is 60 cu m per sec, and at the mouth, 100 cu m per sec. The high water levels are in winter and spring. It is navigable 175 km upstream from Naumburg. A system of canals (approximately 20 sluices) begins at Halle. There are a number of hydroelectric stations (at Hohenwarte, Bleiloch, and elsewhere). The cities of Saalfeld, Rudolstadt, Jena, Naumburg, Halle, Bernburg, and Kalbe are situated on the Saale (the GDR).