THE MOST RECENTLY FORMED DELTA IN EUROPE
If at the seaside you can watch the most beautiful sunrise, “the most beautiful sunset can only be admired on the Danube,” as the poet Mircea Dinescu always says, as a passionate aficionado of the Danubian places in Romania.
And the most charming sunset is at Baziaş, at the entrance of the Danube on Romanian soil, located at a distance of 1075 km, measured on the river, to the place marked as the kilometre “zero” from Sulina, at the confluence with the Black Sea.
The Danube has three conventional sectors in its course:
• The Upper Danube or the Alpine sector, from the Black Forest Mountains to Bratislava;
• The Middle Danube or the Pannonia Sector, between Bratislava and Baziaş;
• The Lower Danube or the Pontic sector, from Baziaş to the Black Sea, with its most spectacular strait, the Danube Gorge.
The essence of the magnificence of the views of the Danube Gorge is constituted by the very presence of the Danube. The Romanian-Serbian dam at the Iron Gates, 55.5 m high and 441 m long, between Mouth Valley and Şip, formed a large storage lake that stretches to the spilling of the Timis River in the Danube, not far from Belgrade.
While on the Lower Shore the hydropower and navigation system Iron Gates, inaugurated oficially on May 6th 1972, sank the Ada Kaleh island in the waters of the lake, the Orșova Veche town sector and the other nearby villages, which experienced the tragedy of displacement, in the Upper Gorge, near Baziaş, the Danube formed at Nera’s mouth the newest delta in Europe: The Nera’s Microdelta on the Danube.
The mirror of the lake now offers a unique place of calm, soothing beauty, where we urge you to come “from Oraviţa to the valley”, as the lines of a Caras song says. The first place you reach is Racasdia, where you can visit one of the most beautiful village museums in Mountainous Banat, which through the “soul of objects” reflects the passion and well-being of the Banat peasants.
At the exit from Răcăşdia, you will cross the first railway line from Romania, Oraviţa-Baziaş, now in operation only until Iam, a village on the border with Serbia.
After climbing the hill of Nicolint, the route goes down to Naidas Customs, a border crossing point between Romania and Serbia. From here to Belgrade there are only 130 km. After another 2 km you reach the bridge over Nera, a 500 m long viaduct, west of Naidas.
Do not cross the bridge, but go right along Nera, on the county road DJ 571C, passing through Lescovita, Zlatita, Parneaura, Campia and Socol, where you can shortly see the Danube and the Nera bay or the “Nera Pond” as locals call it.
Theme Park no. 9. THE NATURE’S SPECTACLE:
The Nera’s Microdelta on the Danube
BIODIVERSITY AND THE PLEASURE OF BIRSWATCHING
The Nera’s Microdelta on the Danube, once known, will become one of the most spectacular touristic destinations in the Danube Gorge. It is a miniature copy of the Danube Delta, very popular as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
With the care of the Nera-Oraviţa Ecological Collaboration Group (GEC Nera), led by Cornel Sturza Popovici, where volunteers from the area defend the delta from people’s carelessness, The Nera Microdelta on the Danube will get the biosphere reservation status. Now it is part of the Iron Gates Natural Park, which since 2000 is a cross-border park on the border between Romania and Serbia.
“The waters have their route. The clear springs turn into streams, the streams into rivers, and they finally flow into the sea. The routes of the Banat’s waters all end in the Danube. The Banat rivers flow into the river, either directly, like Timis, Caras, Nera and Cerna, or through Tisa, such as Bega. The other smaller waters on the Danube Gorge, which have their springs in the Locva Mountains and Almăj Mountains, reach almost all of them to the Danube. ” [Meila M., 2012].
Timis is the first river in Banat to flow directly into the Danube. Starting from the Semenic Mountains, it crosses the counties of Caraş-Severin and Timiş, and then continues its journey through the province of Vojvodina in Serbia and, after 339 km from its origin, flows into the Danube at Pancevo.
The second river of Banat, the Caras, with its springs in the Anina Mountains, flows into the Danube on the Serbian territory, after a 128 km flow, the mouth of the river being at 4 km from the river’s entrance to Romania, at Bazias.
Nera is the third river of Mountainous Banat that flows into the Danube at its entrance to Romania, in the Nera bay, right on the Romanian-Serbian border, after it passes 130 km from the springs of Nera from the Mount Semenic.
Cerna carries its waters and the Iovan Iorgovan legend along 84 km and flows into the Danube, in Cerna bay, near Orșova. Also in this place, in the Danube Gorge, in the Fly Hole Cave, where the last head of the defeated dragon sheltered, ends the legend as well.
A boat trip on the channels and ponds of Nera’s Microdelta on the Danube is a unique opportunity to encounter another face of the Danube Gorge.
The landscape that surrounds Nera’s confluence with the river is truly deltaic. Channels filled with rushes and hot greenish puddles with rustling reed girdle make up the stunning “wetland” with a unique biodiversity. The shores are full of poplar, alder and willow species, bending their branches over the water, delighted as if their face is mirrored by a standing water stream. Look and try to answer the question: which is more beautiful, the white willow (salix alba) or the red willow (salix purpurea), which is taller, the white poplar (populus alba) or the black alder (alnus glutinosa), which will bring more luck, the four–leaf clover (quadrifolia marching) or the floating fern (salvinia natas), which pleases you more, the yellow pond iris (pseudacorus) or the pond lily ( butomus umbellatus).
It is the place where you discover the pleasure of bird watching, either with the naked eye or through a binocular or telescope. The water fauna of Nera’s Microdelta is rich in rare bird species, one more charming than the other: the little egret (egretta garzetta), the little bittern (ixobrychus minutus), the little cormorant (phalocrocorax pygmeus), the great bittern (botaurus stellaris), the barn owl (tyto alba) or the blue gull (alcedo atthis). But you cannot go studying birds if you do not know what species live in the area, how to distinguish them and what their habits are. Many times, birds do not look exactly how you expect them to. The light, the visibility, the wind and the light of the water can create optical illusions and you need to learn the art of observing birds and its tricks. It is known that the best periods of the year for bird watching are in the spring and autumn months when migration takes place. And the bird watching has to start as early as possible, at dawn, because the birds are active in the morning, especially on the hot days. Successful “bird watching” is brought about by the necessity to have at your disposal a modern equipment (very expensive, true!) of watching, recording, filming and photography to immortalize scenes of rare beauty such as the jumping of a bird when fishing, the float of the wild raccoon and geese, flock of migratory birds in winter landscape, or a blue gull’s flight. And then … to die for the love for the birds of Nera.
The Nera’s Microdelta on the Danube is also a “small paradise” of fishes, from the Danube “lords” ( zander, catfish, pike, carp and goldfish) to the rare, even predatory species, such as: the electric eel, the Balcan loach, the European mudminnow, the asp.
While the birds are flying through the air, looking for food through the school of fish and the delicate grasses of the delta, the graceful dragonflies are flying above the reed, with their transparent, green or bright blue collared wings.
In the evening, the pond frogs begin the night show like some “old blowers” of Banat brass bands, while on their music, a water snake is dancing in the pond, swimming elegantly and writing a “V” on the water-table. Sometimes it stands still, holding its head high above the water, like a periscope observing everything around. Only the European pond turtles and the ground squirrel retreat to bed, while mosquito clouds are invading the place, tingling and stinging everything they encounter alive.
“When a smooth breeze slips from the river, the face of the ponds wrinkles and the tumbling leaves of the willows whisper a secret advice. The reed trembles in low waves, squealing harshly the swords of the elongated leaves. Its rustling reminds of the noise of a crowd. Evening darkens the world, only a sense of light edges the Serbian hills across the Danube. Over the ponds ‘world the night falls, like a dark curtain. Thus ends one day in the Nera’s delta on the Danube. “[Meila M., 2012].
In order to catch the sunset at Bazias, we leave the free world of the delta with the thought that, in the vicinity, before 1989, the world’s greatest gymnast, Nadia Comăneci attemted to cross the border in search of her freedom.
You will not stop at the “Apus de soare / Sunset” Guesthouse in Baziaş. The place and name of the guesthouse are not accidental. Here, the sunset will cure you of stress. The contemplation of the sun reflected in the water is a unique way of relaxation, which you can experience only at Bazias. It is the perfect place to capture the “3D skyline” of the sun’s disappearance from the sky. The Danube, at the entrance to Romanian land, comes from the west from Serbia, and from Baziaş bends smoothly to the south.
“The wide view of the river joining the sky to the west is hard to forget. The space seems to be larger in size comparatively with the rest of the surroundings. The apparent three-dimensional growth makes the horizon seem more distant, the sky higher and the Danube wider. “[Meila M., 2012].
This impression is real, because the width of the Danube is almost 2 km.
Every summer, the sun in the twilight gives the impression that it “is sinking” into the Danube, wrapped in curtains of colour. The sunset “adorns” the sky by reflecting its rays in the mirror of the river until the light decreases and the dusk comprises this corner of Banat. The celestial embers are slowly dying, and sooth the soul, leaving the ashes of the day that is passed. It is a total and divine relaxation for body and soul.
Every evening, the picture of the “Sunset” at Baziaş is different, but always so beautiful that you want to stop the time in order to admire the view as much as possible.
At Baziaş you can visit the three Serbian Orthodox monasteries, of which the nearest is the “Saint Sava” Serbian Orthodox Monastery in Baziaş with the spring “St. Sava the Healer” built in 1225. The legend says that Sava, the first patriarch of the Serbs, being at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in these lands, exclaimed, while the winds of Coşava was blowing fiercely, the words “Baş ziaş”, which in Serbian means “You are really yelling”, hence the name of the place and the celebration of the saint on January 27.
Next to the church lies the St. Sava “Serbian Cultural Centre” and the traces of the ancient harbour and the old train station. Baziaş was the end of the line of the first railway line built in Romania, put into operation on the 21st of August 1854 for the transport of coal and opened to passenger traffic on the 1st of November 1856. As it was a harbour on the Vienna-Baziaş River Route, the Danube locality was visited by great figures of history during their journey, like Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elizabeth, as well as King Charles the First of Romania. Everybody knows the adventure of King Charles the First who arrived at Bazias in 1866, travelling incognito under the name of Carol Hettingen from Thal, and heading to Odessa. After staying in the Baziaş harbour between 6th and 9th of May, he crossed the Danube to Romania at Drobeta Turnu Severin, where Ion Bratianu waited for him.
Also at Bazias you can see the ruins of the first casino on the Romanian land, the Bazias Casino, built during the Austrian Empire, where people came animated by the luck’s hope and often left burdened by the despair of losing their money and wealth. Here, in the first Romanian village on the bank of the Danube, was the famous novelist Petre Dumitriu born on May 8th 1924.
At Baziaş we encounter the second natural reservation of the Iron Gates Natural Park, where the garden peony (peonia officinalis) is growing, the jewel of the spontaneous flora from the gorge.
Below, the Danube gets narrower, passing through two rocky slopes, and at about 8 km downstream of Baziaş, at km 1067 fluvial, you can see the Calinova Island in the water, the third natural reserve famous for its white willow forest (salix alba).
Before entering the village of Divici, on the right side of the road, you can see a vertical clay wall with holes all over it. This unusual place is the Ravine of martins/swifts, the fourth natural reserve of the cross-border Park, from Nera’s confluence with the Danube. It is intended to protect the nests and colonies of the martins on the Danube Gorge. The martins are protected species, having the appearance similar to that of the swallows. These birds cannot be seen elsewhere, only in the Danube Gorge. The sand martin is less black in colour than the swallow and does not have such a long and forked tail. It has a white patch on its chest, but it does not have the red necklace on its neck. Just like the swallow, the sand martin flies quickly and feeds with insects. It is nesting in the steep slopes with “loess deposits,” dating from the Quaternary Age. With its beak and claws it digs the earth to form small shelters, where afterwards it builds its nest. With the coming of autumn, when the day is getting shorter and the insects in the air are getting fewer, they are among the first birds to start their journey to warm countries and especially with longer days. The following year, driven by a mysterious and indistinguishable instinct, they return to their old nests built in the walls of the ravine. As long as they were absent, the Divici Valley was poorer.
On the 25 km of the Danube Gorge from Baziaş to Pojejena, each village has something interesting and mysterious at the same time. After Divici, the next location Belobreşca, the village with the most prose writers and bilingual poets (Liubita Raichi, Slavomir Gvozdenovich, Borislav Krstici, Tzvetko Krstici and Cedomir Milenovici) who are writing both in Serbian and Romanian. Here, the Danube is wide and its depth is only 20 m. Across the water, the town of Veliko Gradişte can be seen on the Serbian bank. Downstream of the picturesque harbour of Veliko Gradişte, the Pek River, the largest tributary on the right side of the river (102 km in length), flows into the Danube Gorge.
On the Romanian bank the villages of Şuşca and Pojejena follow, between them, 2 km from the Danube is the village of Radimna, situated at the foot of the Locvei Mountains.
Pojejena is the locality in the shape of the letter “L”, and the curve at the right angle of the road to Baziaş delimits the two parts of the village, the Romanian and the Serbian one.
In Pojejena the road from Baziaş (DN57A) intersects with the one that comes from Oraviţa (DN57) over the Locvei Mountains and heads to New Moldova.