Iron Gate, Romania Cruise Port

Even though the name may suggest something that might not immediately make you think "vacation," taking a cruise through the Iron Gates of Romania is an absolute delight. Creating a partial boundary between Serbia and Romania, this 83-mile-long gorge within the Danube River is highlighted by a breathtaking backdrop of mountains and forests. In its past, the gorge had some issues creating safe passage for ships, thanks to riverbed rocks and rapids. Although a plan was drafted as early as 1831 to fix this problem, there were only varying degrees of success; as late as 1973, ships were dragged upstream via locomotive. Eventual construction of dams created a reservoir, but also had a negative impact on the wildlife. As a result, flora and fauna are now under the protection of Romania and Yugoslavia. Here are a handful of our favorite experiences while cruising through the Iron Gates, Romania:
 
  • The largest natural park in Romania, the Iron Gates National Park or Portile de Fier supports more than almost 2,000 species of plants and over 5,000 species of animals. Because of the climate, there are also pockets of humidity where protected birds thrive. Archaeology buffs will enjoy the settlements from Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic eras.
     
  • Near Drobeta-Turnu Severin and the Great Kazan are the remains of Trajan's Bridge, built by Apollodorus of Damascus and named for the legendary Roman emperor. This ancient bridge was constructed from 103-105 and later dismantled by Hadrian as protection from invasion. Only the entrance pillars remain, along with a carving on the Romanian bank: a likeness of Trajan's famous opponent Decebalus.
     
  • The rich history of the area is housed within the Iron Gates Museum, which includes exhibits featuring flora and fauna, documents, archeological items, and costumes. You'll also find modern Romanian fine arts, featuring works by Luchian, Pallady, and Ressu.
     
  • The largest dam on the Danube, the Iron Gates Dam is also one of the largest hydro power plants in Europe. Begun in 1964 by both Romania and Yugoslavia, it was not without controversy: a small inhabited island called Ada Kaleh ended up submerged during its construction.
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