Când se coboară de pe Piatra Albă (546 m) a Munţilor Locvei pe serpentinele dispuse atât de simetric pe cei 14 km dintre Podul Naidăş de peste Nera şi Podul Radimna, drum nou ce traversează munţii prin mijlocul pădurilor de brad, fag şi stejar, se ajunge în Culmea Pojejenei, de unde se vede pentru prima dată Dunărea.
Este primul loc de unde Dunărea vă va surprinde prin culoarea galben-verzuie a apelor sale, pe care numai scriitorul Jules Verne a intuit-o în romanul său postum cu titlul original „ Le beau Danube jaune”, în limba română „Frumoasa Dunăre galbenă”.
Dacă la Viena, Dunărea este albastră, în Clisura Dunării ea poartă „unde blonde” cu irizaţii verzui şi argintii, care te duc cu gândul la „truda” fluviului de a străpunge calcarele jurasice şi cretacice ale Carpaţilor, la începutul perioadei cuaternare. „În acele vremuri, Carpaţii se legau cu munţii de peste Dunăre, din Serbia, într-un şir continuu„[Birou V., 1982].
Aşa s-a născut Dunărea, deschizând „chei” ale Porţilor de Fier întinse de la Baziaş (70 m altitudine) la Gura Văii (45 m altitudine) şi formând Clisura Dunării cu cataracte, praguri şi stânci izolate, defileu şerpuitor şi sălbatic care a legat Lacul Panonic aflat la vest şi Lacul Getic de la est, lac ce se întindea pe actualul teritoriu al Bărăganului până în Marea Neagră.
„Cine au fost cei dintâi navigatori pe Dunăre nu se ştie. Legenda clasică povesteşte că argonauţii s-au încumetat şi pe aci în căutarea lânei de aur. Romanii, ca să o poată stăpâni, au croit drum pe malul drept de-a lungul ei, în multe locuri deasupra apei, atârnat pe grinzi înfipte în peretele de stâncă. Tot ei sapă şi primul canal navigabil la Porţile de Fier (pe vremea lui Traian, în dreptul localităţii sârbe Sip). Turcii au ridicat bastioane ca să aibă sprijin împotriva cetăţilor de pe malul stâng. În secolul al XVIII–lea, istoria se schimbă, austriecii fortifică ţărmul pe malul stâng împotriva turcilor. Încă un secol şi se taie drumul grandios de pe malul stâng între Baziaş şi Orşova (1834-1837). Iar la sfârşitul secolului, guvernul maghiar, cu bani nemţeşti şi cu muncă românească, execută regularea albiei până la Turnu Severin. (…) Pentru ca vaporul să poată trece cu siguranţa de azi, s-au explodat câteva sute de mii de metri cubi de stâncă de pe fund şi de pe margini, s-au construit în apă baraje uriaşe şi s-au tăiat canale kilometrice, unde apa nu avea adâncimea necesară navigaţiei.”[Birou V., 1982].
Al doilea canal navigabil de la Porţile de Fier a fost inaugurat în 15/27 septembrie 1896, după ce lucrările la canal începute în 1891 s-au terminat în 1885.
Canalul prevăzut cu două diguri de piatră a avut lungimea de 2200 m şi lăţimea de 80 m. Adâncimea canalului a fost calculată să fie de minim 2 m pentru a permite navigaţia şi atunci când apele scădeau.
La ceremonia de inaugurare au participat împăratul Austro-Ungariei, Franz Iosef, regele Carol I al României şi regele Alexandru I la Serbiei. Evenimentul a fost marcat printr-o medalie jubiliară care pe o faţă îi prezintă pe cei trei suverani, iar pe reversul medaliei se află scrisă data întâlnirii.
De sute de ani acest ţinut bănăţean plin de farmec natural, dar şi de istorie i se spune „Clisura Dunării”. Ca zonă turistică, Clisura Dunării se întinde de la Baziaş până la Orşova. Este spaţiu dunărean dintre gura de vărsare a Nerei (km 1075 fluvial) şi gura de vărsare a Cernei (km 955 fluvial) pe o distanţă pe 120 km.
Etimologic, cuvântul „clisură” provine din cuvântul „clis” care înseamnă cheie pe greceşte, aşa cum afirmă unul dintre cei mai apropiaţi cercetători ai Clisurii Dunării, prof. Alexandru Moisi.[Moisi A., 1934]. Denumirea metaforică este una potrivită, întrucât se poate spune că, dintotdeauna, defileul Dunării a fost cheia Apusului faţă de Orient. Mai mult, „numirea este nimerită, întrucât atât la intrare, cât şi la ieşire din strâmtoare, valea are o asemănare perfectă a unei chei grandioase.” [Moisi A., 1934].
În sens restrâns, Clisura Dunării este valea îngustă a Dunării de la Babacai până la Tabula Traiana, împărţindu-se în două părţi: Clisura de Sus, de la Babacai până la hotarul dintre judeţele Caraş-Severin şi Mehedinţi, în apropierea cataractei Greben, şi Clisura de Jos, de la Greben la Tabula Traiana.
După intervenţia „omului” dornic de mărire, prin construcţia barajului Porţile de Fier, natura şi-a reluat în mâini stăpânirea sălbatică asupra Clisurii Dunării.
„Dunărea se scurge fără întoarcere asemenea nisipului prin clepsidra timpului. Mereu alte ape trec prin faţa noastră în irepetabile clipe, creând senzaţia stranie că timpul a devenit material, întruchipându-se în unde.” [Meilă M., 1912].
Fluviul Dunărea este mereu viu ca o fiinţă uriaşă fluidă plămădită din apă. Uneori poate fi blândă şi liniştită ca adierea unui vând de primăvară. Alteori însă se agită mânată parcă de zbuciumul oamenilor din aceste locuri.
Frumuseţea sălbatică, fără seamăn a priveliştilor clisurene este dată şi de scurgerea apelor Dunării prin cele 5 chei ale Clisurii, care se închid şi se deschid printr-o alternanţă de îngustări şi depresiuni:
- Îngustarea Baziaş – Divici (8 km), urmată de o depresiune largă la Moldova Veche (27 km);
- Îngustarea Coronini – Alibeg (6,2 km) şi depresiunea Sicheviţa (Gornea)- Liubcova (17 km);
- Îngustarea Berzasca – Greben (18 km) şi lărgirea lungă Greben-Plavişeviţa (25 km);
- Cazanele Mari (3,8 km) cu Golful Dubova (1,4 km);
- Cazanele Mici (3,6 km) cu depresiunea Ogradena-Orşova (10 km)
When you come to the Gorge for the first time, it will be hard to believe that such a beauty exist, unique in the whole Europe. Delightful places are all along, that you will later remember as a journey through a „Banat Arcade.” [Meila M., 1912]. Once you see this land, you will never forget it, and you will always have the nostalgia for the joy of the past.
As every trip to Mountainous Banat is a small adventure, we offer you a last touristic route, a cruise on the Danube where, for 8-10 hours, you will experience total relaxation through a dreamlike state that the river bestows to those who come to see it flowing quietly
„with the smoothness of a mirror.”
The Touristic Route no. 10: Cruise on the Danube
For a cruise on the Danube Gorge, it is necessary to reach the town of New Moldova, in the southern part of it, passing through the urban area called the New Town. Then you enter the „Old Moldova ” harbour built on the location of the old Dacian Mudava settlement. Here, during the Romans’ times, a camp was built, and in the Middle Ages a fortress. The first territory occupied by the Romans and the last one left by them was the Gorge.
Moldova Noua or New Moldova was founded in the seventeenth century by forest cutters and miners coming from Oltenia, who built their homes along the Boşneagului Valley, until the exit of the Danube in the meadows. But no further, for the arable land commenced here, being in the property of the mining exploitation’s owners, who were the following along the time: first the Emperor of Vienna, then the StEG Company and later the UDR. Until 1989, New Moldova was an important non-ferrous mining centre, and today it is a harbour town on the Danube.
You can reach the harbour of Old Moldova from Pojejena Hill descending from Pojejena, where the newest Touristic Compound on the Gorge was opened. From here, through Măceşti, you can reach Old Moldova, a village with a Mediterranean landscape, with narrow streets and houses with the front to the street, built close to each other and with the grapevine growing on the walls of the houses, without the need to bury it in during winter. At Old Moldova there is the most famous wine from the Gorge, called by locals „Linden Leaf” and “The Golden Cauldron” Festival is organized here every year.
The Golden Cauldron
It is a culinary-cultural-sporting event, the first edition of which dates back to 2002. It is organized in early August by the Serbs from the Danube Gorge in Moldova Veche, financed by the Serbian Union of Romania.
The manifestation has three moments:
1. The competition of sports fishing in the Danube, completed by other sports games as well, such as: soccer, chess, table tennis, etc.
2. The culinary moment, when you can see the craftsmanship of all the competitors, when preparing the fish soup in large cauldrons, according to their own recipes. All the tourists are offered a bowl of fish soup, a plate of fried fish and a glass of red wine.
3. The cultural moment concludes the event and contains a folklore show of the cultural and artistic groups of the Banat and Serbian ethnic groups, a Miss Danube Gorge contest and a tombola whose main prize is a big fish of 10 kg.
At the event, the tourists are able to get to know the people, the traditional folk costumes and the folklore of the Danube Gorge, to taste the fish dishes specific to the area and even to participate directly, as contestants, in the organized competitions.
At almost 3 km from Old Moldova, on the Great Valley, you can visit a new reservation from the Iron Gate Natural Park: the Great Valley Nature Reserve.
It is a botanical and forest reserve with ash, oak and beech forests mixed with hornbeam. It is sheltered from the cold air mass; being an oasis of Mediterranean vegetation and the only place in Romania where the white ivy (Daphne laureola) grows outdoors, in bushes up to one meter, with hard and big leaves.
Characteristic of the white ivy are also its fat leaves covered by a layer of wax, arranged in bouquets on branches, which remain green also in the winter time. It makes fruits in the form of black „pearls”. Besides the white ivy, there are also other rare plants in the reservation, such as: the globe thistle, the manna ash, the sycamore, smoke tree, the wild lilac, the silver linden, the Oriental hornbeam and the garden peony.
Once you arrive at the harbour of Old Moldova (km 1048 fluvial), you will hear the most beautiful folk creation of the Serbian villages, Dunave, Dunave (Oh, ye Danube, Danube), as an imaginary dialogue with the river of the Gorge:
Oh, Danube, Danube,
The boat starts its journey through the Danube Gorge, by passing the emerald island called “the Danube Island” from the middle of the river, loaded abundantly with willows, but attended like a suspended garden. It is the natural reserve where the last specimen of the „European beaver” lived, a kind of animal akin to the common beaver, but with a wide, strong tail and sharp, prominent teeth. These animals lived in shelters of branches built in the riverbed.
Right in the middle of the island you can see a hill (a „hunca„) that rises 50 m above the Danube level and from the top of which unforgettable views open both up and down on the river. Upwards, to the north-west, you can see the entrance of the Danube into the country, and downwards, to the southeast, the Danube Gorge arises, with the two fortresses face to face, as watchmen, the Golubać fortress, on the Serbian bank, and St. Ladislau fortress, on the Romanian bank.
Here the Danube has a width of 5 km, the largest on the strait, and also here, near Varad, the winds blow the hardest. The wind farms on the nearby hills stand as evidence. Only the nearby „tailing dust” sometimes pollutes the area.
Several hundred meters further down the valley, on the left bank, lies the Coronini village, which in 1965-1995 was called Pescari, meaning fishermen in Romanian, after the main occupation of the inhabitants, fishing, by which the Danube fishes arrived as gifts on the table of the rich. The village developed a lot during the „embargo”, but after the glory of the 1990s, the locals were forced to return to their traditional occupation to earn their living: cultivating the land and fishing.
The name of the settlement reminds of the Count of Coronini-Cronberg, the former governor of Banat Timiş and Serbian Vojvodina, between 1851-1859.
Past Coronini, at km 1040 fluvial, the Babacaia Rock rises from the Danube with its “beauty of stone” and its legends.
The Babacaia Rock – before the construction of the Iron Gate – was a „sent envoy” of the numerous cliffs that from here, downstream, were tearing the quiet canvas of the Danube into thousands of waves, whose foamy and laced ridges frightened you. Here, all the ships crossing through the strait were customs cleared, and here, when the Coşava wind is blowing hard, a weeping sound is heard, being the cry of the beautiful girl held by the Christian prince, sculpted by nature in the „rock of the father”. On both sides of the Danube two fortresses can be seen, on the Romanian bank there are the ruins of St. Ladislau citadel, with its tower called the Coronini Cula, and the Serbian Golubac Fortress (the Pigeon Fortress), whose laced profile rises slimly on the top of the limestone rock. Today the pigeon has become the symbol of the Serbian town Golubać near the fortress. The legends of the place and the so beautiful Danube sights around Babacaia inspire not only artists and writers but also travellers to feel and live like the Banat writer, Mircea Cavadia, always „with the Danube in the heart”. Even in the misty days, when the Babacaia Rock appears and disappears among the clouds driven by the wind along the Danube, you will feel that everything seems to be surrounded by an unearthly atmosphere.
And in the middle of summer, in cloudless nights, you can see the UEM Resita House of Tourism, you can watch the stars falling from the sky vault down to their twin sister mirrored in the water, like some „broken wings” in the memory of the youngsters who have lost their lives on the Danube Gorge when they tried to flee the country in search of freedom. According to the traditional belief of the inhabitants from the Gorge, when a star falls, a man dies. That’s why, when the moon appears, look at the magical path of light laying on the water’s shiny surface until bellow the night’s star. You will see that the light descended from the sky is twinned with that reflected by the waters, and in the silent night it will be light as the day. It is the moment you will look for the answer to the question:
Why do stars fall when people die,
and why falling stars appear, so that people die?
Towards dawn, dew pearls appear on the leaves of grass from the water’s edge, symbolizing the tears of the ending night and of the mothers who miss their children departed in the wide world.
„Downstream Coronini, to the right and to the left, the mountains crowd together more and more over the Danube, forcing it to narrow its bed, and when the rains or thaws swell its waves, the river rushes over the rocky shore, to dig it and to break it down always and forever.” [Bizera M., 1971].
It is the narrowing of the Coronini–Alibeg, where the banks of the Danube come closer to less than 500 m, the walls are steep and tall over 100 m high, made of Jurassic and Cretaceous limestone, and the depth of water is more than 35 m above the marshes from the bottom.
On the right bank of the Danube, the Serbian road follows the old Roman road, fact proved by the riverside quarry. On the left bank of the Danube, the Moldova Noua – Orşova new road overlaps basically the „Széchenyi” road between Orşova and Baziaş, being commenced at Orşova in 1834, and finished in 1837 at the Cauldrons; after another two years (1839) it arrived at Coronini-Alibeg and ended up at Bazias in 1848. Next to the road we can see even today a plate fixed during the time of Emperor Franz Josef, evoking the road of Stefan Széchenyi and Gabor Baross. Until recently, the road on the Romanian side looked differently. It slithered along the Danube below the high limestone walls in tight and dangerous curves. In the bent hairpin curves, the carriages and then the cars were seen only in a mirror, and the railing was made of small successive arches that separated the road from the steep bank. Photographs with people in carriages, strolling through these charming places stand as testimony even in the present.
In the limestone rocks many caves open. One of the most picturesque and easily accessible is the „Fly Hole” Cave near the road, 20 m above the spring at km 1039 fluvial. Legend has it that this was the shelter for the swarms of flies called „musca golumbaca”, emerged from the head of the dragon killed by Iovan Iorgovan in the Cerna Valley, head that rolled up until here, close to the Strait of Alibeg-Coronini. The cave has a length of 254 m and the entrance is illuminated by a large natural window facing the Danube.
Also nearby, 3 km downstream of the ” Fly Hole” Cave, on the Danube slope, 80 m above the water, there lies the „Chindiei Hole” Cave, declared an archaeological reserve, where 425 prehistoric cave drawings have been discovered , but also traces of Dacian inhabitancy. On the walls of the rock, unknown artists painted birds, flowers and other signs, using natural pigments and collared clays from the surroundings.
The red coloured „Clay sun” is one of the oldest drawings, being completed 6500 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. It is the proof of a primitive aesthetic beginning, in a certain ritual where most paintings are on the eastern and northern walls of the cave, which are illuminated by the last rays of the sun before sunset, at chindie ( dusk) as they say in idiom, hence the name of the cave.
The „Faces of the Danube” is another natural reserve in the strait, where on the limestone slope you can see rich clusters of bellflowers bushes (Campanula crassipes), a true delight for the eyes grace to the blue-violet colour of their flowers.
Coming out from the limestone „strap” from the „Stenca Cataract„, the Danube widens and the first „cauldron” appears, where the water canvas takes a round shape and the waves rotate and give the feeling that they boil just like the water in a cauldron.
The cruise continues, and from the boat, on the Romanian shore, you can see the „Şumita” guesthouse at Liborajdea, and on the Serbian bank you can see the locality of Brnijica. Flowing almost parallel to the Liborajdea River, one kilometre downstream you reach the Crusovita River which flows into the Danube. You reach the Sicheviţa – Liubcova Depression, where you can see the traces of the 3rd century roman Villa Rusticae tot the right, next to „Căuniţa” Guesthouse. In the right of the Pazariste bridge you can see the county road DJ 571A branching out from the national road DN57, passing through the village of Gornea, where you can visit the „Ion Dragomir” Archaeology and Ethnography Village Museum, with unique pieces, and through Sicheviţa commune, formed of 19 villages renowned for the Compound of watermills with buckets and buttons. Then the road continues on Cameniţei Valley towards Gârnic and Padina Matei.
Looking in the distance from the boat you can see the border that separates the Locva Mountains from Almăj Mountains, along the Camenita river, that measures 13 km from the springs till the mouth of the Danube, at the Păzărişte bridge.
Passing next to the villages of Liubcova to the left and Dobra to the right, you pass through the village of Berzasca, located at km 1018 fluvial, where the newest Lacustrine Village on the Danube Gorge is going to be built. Downstream from Berzasca, on a distance of 18 km to Greben, the Danube forms a new narrowing. At Drencova, at km 1015, the ruins of the Drencova fortress can be seen rising from the river’s waters, after which the „Cozla Cataract” appears. From the border of Caraş-Severin County with Mehedinţi County, the Lower Danube Gorge begins.