Sailing the Iron Gates, Danube River

You might think of the The Blue Danube waltz when you consider this river, but it’s rarely blue and never as light and airy as Strauss’s music. The Danube is a heavy-duty working waterway – historic and haunting. This is the Iron Gates, an 83-mile span through a deep gorge on the border of Romania and Serbia.  

The banks rise vertically in this narrowest part of the river’s 1,800-mile journey from Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea. The powerful Romans tangled with the Danube here. The second century carving (above) commemorates the completion of Emperor Trajan’s military road beside the river. It reads: Tabula Traiana (Trajan’s Relief).

Trajan’s Bridge Across the Danube (artistic reconstruction)

During Trajan’s war with Dacia (now Romania), the Romans also built a bridge at this spot on the Danube. Although it was destroyed less than 200 years later, for more than a thousand years it remained the longest arch bridge ever built.

This face is Decebalus, last king of Dacia, who fought unsuccessfully against Trajan. At 42.9 m x 31.6 m, it’s Europe’s largest rock carving, finished in 2004. Funded by a wealthy Romanian businessman, it took 12 sculptors 10 years to create.

The scenery is stunning in the Iron Gates, which separate the southern Carpathian Mountains from the foothills of the Balkans. Mist flows down from the protected forests lining the cliffs on both sides of the river. Sailing this part of the Danube is a gift.

For #AtoZChallenge: Letter D

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