All those whose who happen to visit Eastern Serbia have an opportunity to marvel at the magnificent Djerdap Gorge, Europe’s longest and highest gorge, stretching for 100 whole kilometres of the Danube’s course along the border with neighbouring Romania.The gorge is entered through the Iron-Gorge, situated where the Danube begins to meander after passing through the Serbian plains, as if gathering strength to break through the mountain ranges and reach its goal.
The best way to take in the sheer beauty and imposing nature of Djerdap is to climb to one of its picture-perfect viewpoints and enjoy it from the vantage point of the rare bird species, like the golden eagle, the short-toed snake eagle, the white-tailed eagle, the black stork and the grey heron, that all make their home here.
Veliki Štrbac is a viewpoint under first-degree protection, with stunning views of the surreally narrow section of the Danube known as Mali Kazan.
If you’re not in the mood for a long hike, you can drop by the Ploče viewpoint, situated en route to Veliki Štrbac which is sufficiently high to offer magnificent views of Mali Kazan. And if you would like to enjoy a view of the gorge, a slightly lower viewpoint called Mali Štrbac lies two kilometres off Veliki Štrbac.
Although Kovilovo viewpoint is the lowest natural vantage point, it is nevertheless frequented by many visitors keen to spot achillea clypeolata, an endangered plant species found only in this area, and to take in the views of the submerged Porečko island, which emerges from the Danube during low water.
You will be hard pressed to pick the best way to take a tour of Djerdap National Park. To make sure you don’t miss anything, we suggest that you try all three of them: become one with the river by sailing on the Danube, use the main regional road to access the national park by car or simply walk into it on foot and observe the surreal nature of Djerdap at close range.
Passing through the Djerdap Gorge is also the EuroVelo 6 cycling route, also known as the Danube Cycling Route, which connects the Atlantic coast with the Black Sea and follows the course of this large European river, from Tuttlingen in Germany all the way to its confluence.
Hiking trails vary in length and level of difficulty, so choose carefully, according to your shape and physical ability. All trails are marked by mountaineering signage with information boards. The best-known among them, the Gold Lake trail, is designed to be easily conquerable by everyone, regardless of their age and shape.
You can also tour Djerdap National Park in a vehicle rented from the park’s administration.
Djerdap is an area of immense historical importance, both for Serbia and the entire world - it is the area of the Lepenski Vir archaeological site, where the remains of a Neolithic civilisation and the oldest urban settlement on European soil have been unearthed.
No less important monuments of the past are Tabula Traiana and the remains of Trajan’s Bridge. The latter is a monumental river crossing built in the 2nd Century CE on the orders of Roman Emperor Trajan, whose sentiment, “Magnum est stare in Danubii ripa” (it is magnificent to stand on the bank of the Danube), still rings true to this day, just as it did when the Roman army heroically marched through here on their conquest of Dacia.
Archaeological exploration is still carried out at the mild elevation above the bank of the Danube known as Kartaš, among the ruins of ancient Roman military fortresses Diana and Pontes.
Standing proudly at the very entrance to the Djerdap Gorge is the Golubac Fortress, built in the 14th Century. It changed hands many times over the centuries as conquerors succeeded one another, until Serbian Prince Mihailo Obrenović finally took hold of it in the 19th Century.
Info: Djerdap National Park