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Road Trip in Romania: Part 3 – Drobeta, Orșova and Danube’s Cauldrons

After visiting everything we have planned in Curtea de Argeș, we got back on the road towards the Danube, our first destination being Drobeta Turnu Severin, where we were hoping to see the Medieval Fortress of Severin and a pillar from Traian’s Bridge.

The drive took about 4 hours, on a very beautiful route, along the Southern Carpathian mountains, passing through Râmnicu Vâlcea – Horezu – Târgu Jiu – Motru. There were many places where we would have liked to stop and take a look, but the time was too short, so we put them on the list for the next time.

The Medieval Fortress of Severin

This grand and strong shelter of history was built in the Middle Ages, by the Hungarian king Ladislau. Its walls keep the memories of hundreds of years of fierce battles among those who wanted to capture it over time. Walking along the thick walls which are still standing after being attacked by people and bad weather, you can imagine the life inside the stronghold during harsh times.

The construction was recently renovated with EU funding and it is now a touristical sight. In the back there is another building which probably hosts the administrative offices, the ticket point and the toilets. When we have arrived, that place was closed. We have asked a lady who was walking with her niece where can we find a toilet and, after a slight hesitation, she pointed us to an “ecological” toilet, about which we really don’t want to give you any other details… But this is a general problem in Romania: in most cities you can walk for miles and not find any decent public toilet.

The general impression that we got at this fortress was a good one, it was a nice visit and we were glad that such an important monument is now renovated and open for tourists.

The Pillar of Traian’s Bridge

After finishing with the citadel, our next objective was emperor Traian’s Bridge, built almost 2000 years ago by the famous Apollodorus of Damascus for the roman legions that crossed the river to conquer the ancient kingdom of Dacia.

Right next to the fortress there is a sign that mentions this other monument, but it does not give clear indications about where it can be found.

We asked a local about this, who was resting near the high traffic road, on a gas pipe. He told us that we have to go on a country road, cross the railway, walk through the woods and then we will find a construction site…

We followed his instructions and walked for about 20 minutes, on the wonderful trail you can see bellow. We were starting to doubt there is something there, but we have finally arrived at a construction yard.

On the fence there was a sign that said “no trespassing”. It was supposed to stop us, but it had a big hole in it, perfect for those who want to explore the surroundings.

 

So we went it. Inside, there were some fishermen catching their dinner in the Danube, a few couples taking selfies with the sunset (including us) and some tourists who were looking incredulously at this “great monument”, not believing that this is what they came to see.

This is a perfect example of very bad management, it is a very important historical artefact that could be repaired and could attract thousands of visitors, but instead it is left to decay. We walked back to the car in sadness, on the same dirty road, and continued or journey to Orșova.

Orșova

It was almost night when we reached the city. We checked in at our pension, close to the Danube, and the owner told us that there is a big festival in the center, recommending to visit it. Being curious, we went there to see the fair. From the pension to downtown, we walked on the shore of the river, guiding ourselves by the barbecue smoke.

When we arrived, we were surprised: there was a huge number of people there, from the city and the surrounding towns, tens of stands with food (all kinds of barbecue, fried anchovies, french potatoes, pickles and lots of beer), random stuff for sale (plates, earthenware, cheap Chinese stuff, furs, leather jackets, shoes and more) and a mobile amusement park.

 

We have not seen so many people, stalls and entertainment options not even at festivals in Cluj or other big cities. We enjoyed the celebration, ate some pleshkavitza (traditional Serbian burger) and headed back to the pension, on the promenade.

Danube’s Defile

Next morning, we went on a boat trip, which we booked a long time in advance. It price was 50 lei for each of us and the trip lasted about two hours. We strongly recommend this experience – the scenery is breathtaking, you can feel the sun, the water droplets and wind on your face, while the guide is telling you about the history of those places.

The boat makes quick stops at the important objectives (Decebal’s Face carved in stone, Tabula Traiana – a marking in the rock from the roman era, the Mraconia monastery, the Veterani cave and the mysterious island Ada Kaleh, now submerged), for pictures and stories about each one.

The stop near the cave is longer, because you can also visit it inside. There is a pontoon there and steps carved in stone, on which you can go in. The tax is low and the local guide tells you all about the history of this place.

It was an extraordinary experience to sail on this narrow path of the Danube, where the water is deep and there are cliffs and forests on both shores. After this, we visited the city park, which was located on a peninsula surrounded by the Danube.

After staring our day so nicely, we got back into the car and went further in our August trip, towards Băile Herculane. More about that in our next article. 🙂

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