The Danube Gorge, also known as The Iron Gates is a gorge on the Danube River that forms part of the border between Romania and Serbia, for more than 130 km. At this point, the river separates the southern Carpathian Mountains from the north-western foothills of the Balkan Mountains. The Romanian side of the gorge became the Iron Gates natural park, while the Serbian part is now the Djerdap national park.
The first narrowing of the Danube lies beyond the Romanian isle of Moldova Veche and is known as the Golubac gorge. It is 14.5 km long and 230 m wide at the narrowest point. At its head, there is a medieval fort at Golubac, on the Serbian bank. Through the valley of Ljupovska lies the second gorge, Gospodin Vir, which is 15 km long and narrows to 220 m. The cliffs scale to 500 m and are the most difficult to reach here from land. The broader Donji Milanovac forms the connection with the Great and Small Kazan gorge, which have a combined length of 19 km. The Orsova valley is the last broad section before the river reaches the plains of Wallachia at the last gorge, the Sip gorge. The Great Kazan (kazan meaning “boiler”) is the most famous and the narrowest gorge of the route: the river here become 150 m wide and reaches a depth of up to 53 m. East of this site the Roman emperor Trajan had the legendary bridge erected by Apollodorus of Damascus. Construction of the bridge ran between 103 and 105 A.D., preceding Trajan’s conquest of Dacia. On the right bank a Roman plaque commemorates him. On the Romanian bank, at the Small Kazan, the face of Trajan’sDacian opponent, king Decebal, was carved in rock from 1994 through 2004.
Significantly older treasures have been discovered in the geographically less spectacular gorge of Gospodin Vir: in the 1960s the archaeological survey Lepenski Vir was revealed, among the most significant one in southeastern Europe. The sandstone statues from the early Neolithic are particularly splendid. Along with the other surveys that can be found in the Iron Gates, it indicates that the region has been inhabited for a very long time.