The Danube passes through 10 different countries during its long path to the Black Sea, more than any other river on the planet. It may only be Europe’s second longest river, but it's certainly the most inspiring one - there are artworks, poems, and compositions created around it. On its path through Serbia, Danube leaves remarkable traces of history, culture and wild nature. In the northeast of Serbia, it becomes the natural border between Serbia and Romania and a protected place of wonderful nature - National Park Djerdap.
The part where the river firmly cuts through the Carpathian Mountains is popularly called “The Iron Gates.” At this place, national park Djerdap leaves Serbia and becomes the Parcul Natural Porțile de Fier, the nature park of southwestern Romania. The Djerdap gorge is gripping in size, around 100 km long, and represents a compound river valley, consisting of four smaller river gorges, separated by ravines.
One of the natural remedies of the park is river Blederija, born in a mineral spring of constant 17 C. It rushes downwards, creating a refreshing Blederija Waterfall. It is 8 meters tall, and locals may swear that the wood fairies bath in it.
The nature reserves of Veliki Strbac and Mali Strbac are the places of utmost protection within the park. It is the golden wilderness of Serbia, which is possible to visit only with a professional guide and in a specific setting. Just to illustrate the importance of this highly protected nature reserve: all the plant species that grow here are the same ones which grew on this land before the last ice age. Pretty amazing, right?
Due to a lot of running water and limestone, the area of Djerdap National Park hides several caves. Rajko’s Cave being one of the biggest in Serbia and spectacular in the shapes and crystal-like cave jewelry in form of white stalactites.
One of the oldest civilizations in the Balkan countries left its marks near the Djerdap gorge. The place is known as an important archaeological site of Lepenski Vir, and the findings date back to 9.500 BC. The place is remarkable for the numerous fish-like sculptures and peculiar architecture of an unique prehistoric civilization.
For the Roman history fans, you could conduct a whole Roman heritage-themed tour, visiting some of the most notable ancient Roman sites in this area: the remains of military fortress Diana, Trajan's bridge and Tabula Traiana. Their younger cousin, the majestic Golubac Fortress is also a must for those interested in history (or epic fantasy in this case.)
It’s true that the Danube marks Serbia on so many levels: geographically, culturally and naturally. But Serbia also leaves its mark on the magnificent flow of Europe’s second longest river. Djerdap National Park is the place where Danube reaches the widest, the narrowest and the deepest points in its flow. Therefore it’s a must visit for those who want to experience the most and the best of the (not-so-blue) Danube.
Photos by Ljiljana Doroslovac
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