Sailing Through The Iron Gates
Going up the Danube River from the Black Sea the river passes through some of its most remarkable scenery. The Iron Gates of the Danube River refers to narrow gorges with high granite walls that divide Romania and Serbia. The term “Iron Gate” was first coined by The Times of London in 1853.
The Roman Emperor Trajan had this marker erected to commemorate the construction of the road to Dacia through the gorge more than 2000 years ago. Archeological surveys of Trajan’s road indicate that large bore holes were drilled into the rock face of the cliffs and timbers were inserted to allow sections of the road to literally run across sheer walls.
This stretch of the Danube separates the southern Carpathian Mountains from the northwestern foothills of the Balkan Mountain range.
This section of the Danube was always a treacherous transit famous for sections of rapids and large whirlpools. In the 1960’s, governments built a massive lock and dam system to help control the river and make it safer transit. After the dam project, the river flowing through the Iron Gates was raised 130 feet that calmed the water and a hydro-electric power plant was built. The system includes two locks some 50 miles apart.
Archaeologists working on a number of sites in the gorge have named what they have found the Iron Gates mesolithic culture. It indicates actual settlements from 15,000 to 7,800 years old. One of these sites is the most important archaeological site in Serbia and maybe all of Europe. It’s Lepenski Vir, the oldest planned settlement in Europe, located on the banks of the Danube in the Iron Gates gorge. The archaeologists’s discoveries have pushed back the dating of European organized culture by a few thousand years in Europe. A number of burial sites have been uncovered bearing woven clothes decorated with shells, bits of rock and pieces of antler. The site has also produced carved stone images, stone tools and pottery shards.