Man has always attempted to make skilful things whose grandeur and spectacularity could equal the natural beauty of the Danube Gorge. This is how a great idea was born, belonging to the famous university professor and thracologist Iosif Constantin Dragan, born in Banat at Lugoj, namely to carve in the rock of the Cauldron the statue of Decebal, the Dacian king during the two Dacian-Roman wars.    

Decebalus’s statue is the largest stone sculpture from Europe, 40.45 m high and 25 m wide. At the same time, it is the sixth statue in the world regarding its height, after the Statue of the Buddha in Japan (120 m), the Statue of Guanyn from China (108 m), the Rodina Statue in Ukraine (102 m), the statue of Peter the Great in Russia (98 m) and the Statue of Liberty in USA (93 m).

The idea was suggested by the giant sculptures of the four American presidents carved in the Rushmore Mountains (USA). From the ship or from the Gorge’s road, the Statue of Decebalus impresses with the dimensions of the work. It is 8 m taller than the statue of Jesus of Rio de Janeiro and 10 m larger than the Colossus of Rhodes, the legendary Greek monument and one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. The image of King Decebalus resembles to that presented in the scene nr. XXIV  from the Column of Rome. Only the nose of the statue is almost 7 m long and 4 m wide.

If you make a calculation between the length and the height of the statue, you will discover the “secret” of its carving, given by the divine number φ = 1.618, through which the “golden section” is obtained in the great sculptures of the world.


12 sculptor-climbers, led by Romanian sculptor Florin Cotarcea, a native of Orşova, worked on Decebalus’s statue; he brought some changes to the statue of the Italian sculptor Mareo Galeotii di Pietrasanta. The stone sculpture was completed in ten years, between 1994 and 2004. In the beginning, the area was deforested and the rock was prepared, then the materials were transported by boat to the bottom of the rock, and from there they were carried in backpack on ropes. The stone was hard to process, requiring much physical effort, and especially intelligent minds. That’s what happened when an 8-tons plate of rock cracked and it was in danger of collapsing. Then it was decided the dynamiting of the “nose” and remodelling it on a reinforced iron- concrete armature.

The Decebalus’ Statue in the Mraconia Bay, in the Small Cauldrons of the Danube is a replica of Tabula Traiana, located a few hundred meters downstream, on the Serbian side.

Decebalus, the son of Scorillo, was destined to be king of the Dacians in the period 87-106 AD, when the Dacian state was threatened by the Roman danger. The territory over which Decebalus reigned was less extended than that of the state governed by Burebista, but it largely covered the limits of today’s Romania. He led the Dacians in the battles against the Roman legions in the years 88-89, 101-102, 105-106 AD. Regarding the qualities of the Dacian King, we have the testimony of the historian Dio Cassius, who wrote:    

He was very skilled in the war plans and skilful in their accomplishment, knowing to choose the opportunity to attack the enemy and to withdraw in time. He was a very astute strategist, valiant fighter and he was able to use the success, but also to get out well from a defeat. For this reason, he was a feared foe for the Romans for a long time.” [Meilă M., 2012].

The Dacians had a real cult of the Danube. Before they started fighting, “they used to drink water from Danubius with a certain ritual as in a primitive sacrament. The communion with the waters of the river gave them confidence and power.[Meila M., 2012].

Despite the bravery of the mighty Dacians, after the Second War (105-106 AD) the Romans were victorious over them. Defeated by Traian, Decebalus committed suicide in order to avoid being captures alive by his enemies. Thus, his followers, the Roman riders led by Tiberius Claudius Maximus, arrived too late and could not capture him.  Then they cut off Decebalus’s head and his right arm and took them to Ranisstorium, where Traian was. By command of the Emperor, Decebalus’s head was sent to Rome to confirm to the inhabitants the victory of the Romans over the mighty King.

After more than 1,900 years, Decebalus’s head was immortalized on the rock at the edge of the country, facing Tabula Traiana, reminding of his Roman rival, the Emperor Traian.         

At the base of the statue there is the inscription reminding of the work and its founder:

                                              DECEBALUS REX.            King Decebalus
                                              DRAGAN FECIT.               Erected by Dragan.      

The work cost $ 1 million, supported by the Dragan Foundation.  

But it was not a vain expense, because the Statue of Decebalus cut in the rock from Mraconia is today the most famous and most sought-after touristic destination along the Danube Gorge.


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