When you think about visiting Romania you should think about diversity. This is because different regions of the country have different types of natural treasures, from lakes and the Black Sea, to mountains covered in snow and forever green forests and more. Even if power stations do not usually make it on tourists’ bucket lists, Romania has a few power stations and damns which are worth seeing, because of their importance, size and the beautiful flora which grows around them. The Iron Gates are a gorge on the Danube River and they represent the border between Romania and Serbia. The Iron Gates are Hydroelectric Power Stations and there are two different one which differ in the amount of electric power they produce.
Iron Gate 1
Its construction began in 1964 and they started to work in 1972. It is a 60 m tall construction and it measures 1, 278 m in length. Iron Gate 1 creates a reservoir of 2, 1 km³ and it produces 5.4 TWh/year for Romania and 5, 65 TWh for Serbia. It is the largest damn on the Danube and one of the largest hydro power plants in Europe.
Iron Gate 2
Its construction was started in 1977 by Romania and Yugoslavia and the power resulted from it was shared between the two countries. It is located between Mehedinti, Romania and Mihajlovac, Serbia. It is 35m tall and 412m long and it generates 1, 3 TWh/year to Romania and 1, 31 TWh for Serbia.
The Danube Boilers
There are two boilers: a large one and a small one. They are named this way because of the narowness of the Danube Canyon in this spots. They are located in the Western Region of the country, Banat and here, the Danube forms a natural border between Romania and Serbia. It creates a spectacular view because while driving on the Romanian side of the road you can see Serbia very well and it is unbelieveble that a different country is just across the river. The Large Boilers have a lenght of 5 km and they are locate between the massiff Ciucaru Mare (Romania) and Velifi Strabac (Serbia).The Small Boilers are 4 km long, having Ciucaru Mare massiff on one side and Mali Strbac on the other side.
Transport: by boat on the river or by car on the national road DN 57.
What to see:
Mraconia Monastery. It is not known precisely the date of when it was constructed. Some sources say it was built at 1523, other sources say it was built at 1453. Across the years it suffered a lot of damage, especially during wars. But it was rebuilt and it has a beautiful message on one of the windows: “Born and killed several times, this Holly monastery is here today, from beyond death, as a certitude of faith, hope, revival and love”
Statue of Decebal. It is a 40 meters tall rock statue of Decebal’s face, the king of Dacia (ancient country, on the territory where Romania is today) who fought for the independence of his country with the roman emperors Domitian and Trajan in the Roman wars. The statue is carved in the mountain just above the Danube, at the Iron Gates. It was carved between 1994 and 2004, and it is the tallest rock sculpture in Europe.
Tabula Traiana. It is 4 meters wide and 1, 75 meters high. It commemorates the successful construction of Trajan’s military road. It was moved from its original places when the Iron Gate 1 was build.
Ponicova Cave. It is the largest underground cavity in the Danube gorge. It is part of the Iron Gates National Park, to protect the species from this area. The cave has numerous shapes of concretions: stalactites, stalagmites, domes, columns, curtains, cave pearls and white calcite floors. It has different rooms, named after their main characteristics: Ogas Gallery, Bat Gallery, Gallery of Concretions, Clay’s Gallery, and Column Hall. It is accessible by land and boat and it is open for tourists but only with an authorized guide.
Veterani Cave: It can be found in the Ciucaru Mare Massif, five meters above the Danube. It used to be a strategic point for Dacians, Romans, and Austrians. It is named after the Austrian commander Veterani, who fortified the cave.
Accomodation: In Romania, the canyon goes through Mehedinti County and villages: Eselnita and Dubova but the spectacular reaches more villages, including Berzeasca. Like other villages in the area, it is located just on the shore of the river, just on the border. It is a peaceful village and the best thing to do around here are boat tours on the Danube, admire the view and relax. We stayed at Pensiunea Ecaterina, where we woke up every morning to a breathtaking view. The infinity pool seemed to end in the Danube, and it gives you a beautiful look over the river and the mountins.
Things to take into consideration: if you come by boat make sure you check the hours they offer transportation and be there on time. If you come by car, plan on going anywhere around here on daylight, even if the road itself is pretty good, it is narrow and next to it there is the mountain from which rocks may fall occasionally.