The historic Iron Gates of the Danube River between Serbia and Romania

  • 01 of 12

    Tabula Traiana - Roman Monument at the Iron Gates of the Danube River

    Tabula Traiana - Roman Monument at the Iron Gates of the Danube River
    Iron Gate of the Danube (c) Linda Garrison

    The Iron Gates of the Danube River originally consisted of four narrow gorges and three wide basins spread over several miles of the river dividing Romania and Serbia. The term "Iron Gate" was first used by The Times of London in 1853 and while some consider the entire 83-mile stretch of the river to be the Iron Gates, most define it as only the section with the four narrow gorges. 

    In the 1960's the government built a massive lock and dam to help control the speed of the river and make navigation safer. Before the Danube River was dammed, commercial boats transferring goods dreaded navigating the rapids of the narrow Iron Gates section of the river. After completion of the dam project, the river flowing through the Iron Gates calmed and the water rose 130 feet higher than before the dam and power station were built. The two locks, spread more than 50 miles apart, anchor each end of the Iron Gates and the impact of the dam can be felt for over 100 miles; over 23,000 residents living along the river needed to be resettled after the dam was completed.

    Danube River cruises in eastern Europe sail through the Iron Gates in daytime, and the scenery is spectacular, though not as dramatic as it was over 50 years ago. Most river cruise travelers consider the Iron Gates area and the Wachau Valley in Austria as the most scenic parts of the Danube River.

    Eastern European river cruises on the Danube typically run between Budapest and Bucharest or the Black Sea. Those wishing to cross Europe from the Black Sea to the North Sea at Amsterdam can combine an eastern Europe Danube River cruise with a "Grand European" river cruise between Budapest and Amsterdam.

    In the photo above, the Roman emperor Trajan laid a marker to commemorate the construction of the road to Dacia nearly 2000 years ago.

    Continue to 2 of 12 below.
  • 02 of 12

    Iron Gate of the Danube River between Serbia and Romania

    Iron Gate of the Danube River between Serbia and Romania
    Iron Gate of the Danube (c) Linda Garrison

    The Tabula Traiana marker laid by the Roman emperor Trajan over 2000 years ago can be seen on the left side. It's on the Serbian side of the Danube and was moved to its current location in 1972 when the dam and hydroelectric station on the river caused the water to rise.

    Continue to 3 of 12 below.
  • 03 of 12

    Dacian Chief Decebalus Carved into the Iron Gates

    Dacian Chief Decebalus Carved into the Rock Cliff of the Iron Gates of the Danube
    Iron Gate of the Danube (c) Linda Garrison

    This huge face carved into the Romanian side of the Danube River celebrates the Romanian hero Decebalus, who fought many battles with the Romans.

    Continue to 4 of 12 below.
  • 04 of 12

    Decebalus Carved into the Rock Cliff of the Iron Gates

    Dacian Chief Decebalus Carved into the Rock Cliff of the Iron Gates of the Danube
    Iron Gate of the Danube (c) Linda Garrison

    Decebalus led his army into battle with the Romans many times. He took his own life after the Roman emperor Trajan conquered Dacia.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    High Cliffs Line the Iron Gate of the Danube River

    Iron Gate of the Danube River between Romania and Serbia
    Iron Gate of the Danube (c) Linda Garrison

    The towering cliffs make this section of the eastern Danube River one of the region's most scenic locations.

    Continue to 6 of 12 below.
  • 06 of 12

    Tiny Chapel at the Iron Gate of the Danube River

    Iron Gate of the Danube River between Romania and Serbia
    Iron Gate of the Danube (c) Linda Garrison

    The tiny chapel sits on the edge of the Danube River at the Iron Gates.

    Continue to 7 of 12 below.
  • 07 of 12

    A close-up of the Chapel at Iron Gate of the Danube River

    Iron Gate of the Danube River between Romania and Serbia
    Iron Gate of the Danube (c) Linda Garrison

     A closer view of the architectural style and construction of the Chapel. 

    Continue to 8 of 12 below.
  • 08 of 12

    Cross on Cliff Overlooking the Danube River

    Iron Gate of the Danube River between Romania and Serbia
    Iron Gate of the Danube (c) Linda Garrison

    This cross is far larger than it appears in the image as the cliff overlooking the Danube River is very high.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Iron Gate of the Danube River between Romania and Serbia

    Iron Gate of the Danube River between Romania and Serbia
    Iron Gate of the Danube (c) Linda Garrison

    More tall cliffs over the eastern Danube River.

    Continue to 10 of 12 below.
  • 10 of 12

    Iron Gate of the Danube River between Romania and Serbia

    Iron Gate of the Danube River between Romania and Serbia
    Iron Gate of the Danube (c) Linda Garrison

    Narrow gorges like this one on the eastern Danube River were filled with rapids before the river was dammed.

    Continue to 11 of 12 below.
  • 11 of 12

    Iron Gate of the Danube River between Romania and Serbia

    Iron Gate of the Danube River between Romania and Serbia
    Iron Gate of the Danube (c) Linda Garrison

    When cruising on a river, it's always interesting to see roads with tunnels or train tracks following the river.

    Continue to 12 of 12 below.
  • 12 of 12

    Cave in the Rock Wall of the Iron Gates of the Danube River

    Cave in the Rock Wall of the Iron Gates of the Danube River between Romania and Serbia
    Iron Gate of the Danube (c) Linda Garrison

    Numerous caves line the rock walls of the Iron Gates of the Danube River separating Romania and Serbia.