Saale zäl´ə [key], 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.
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