�ERDAP


�ERDAP � national park

A blend of time and nature on land and water, the largest national park in Serbia, Djerdap National Park, is located in north-eastern Serbia, on the border with Romania. Spanning 637.99 square kilometers along 100 km of the Danube�s right bank, from Golubac to Karata� near Kladovo, the National Park comprises zones with various protection regimes for natural objects, cultural monuments, fauna and relict plant species, which illustrate the development of vegetation series from times immemorial until the present day. The first level of protection comprises 8.83% ie. 56.33 km2 territory of the Park, the second degree comprises 21.03% ie. 134.15 km2, and finally, the third level comprises 70.14% ie. 447.51 km2. Djerdap National Park is often called river national park because the Danube makes up a significant portion of the Park. The miraculous Iron Gate, the largest and longest water breakthrough in Europe, is also a natural botanical garden and the biggest European archeological open-air museum.

HYDROELECTRIC POWER PLANT �ERDAP

The plant was finished in 1972, being fourth-largest in the world at the time (according to the staff at the power plant). It was a big collaboration project between�Yugoslavia�and�Romania. The power plant employs a large number of the residents of the nearby town of�Kladovo. The �erdap power plant record power production was in 1980 of over 7�terawatt-hours�(TW�h) electric power. With the building of the second power plant �erdap II, the original power plant became better known as �erdap I.�

TRAJAN�S TABLET

Emperor Trajan�s tablet (Tabula Traiana) is part of an assemblage of Roman monuments on the Roman Road through Djerdap, raised to commemorate the completion of works on two huge construction projects in the gorge, namely a road through Djerdap and a Roman canal near the present day Djerdap 1 hydroelectric power plant. The rectangular tablet is carved into the rock, with an engraved inscription in Latin devoted to Roman Emperor Trajan.
It was originally placed 1.5 meters above the Roman road along the Danube. The inscription suggests that a portion of the Djerdap route in the Lower Gorge was built by Emperor Trajan as part of preparations for the war on Dacians; more precisely, it reveals that in the year 100 AD this final and most difficult section of the road was completed. The Roman road and a number of strongholds indicate the importance of the Djerdap Gorge for the Roman Empire, until the final conquest of Dacia in the early 2nd century. The construction of the road, which stretched right along the river, was prompted by the need for faster and safer navigation.

The inscription on the tablet is in six lines, but only three are still legible. It used to be rich in relief decorations, however the only remaining adornment is a frieze depicting an eagle and figures of winged genies. Below the inscription is a kneeling figure, probably depicting Danubius (a river divinity), with a tympanum above and coffered ceiling.

The Roman road was flooded after the construction of the Djerdap hydroelectric power plant (1963�1972). Trajan�s Tablet was cut from the rock, moved 50 meters higher and is now visible from the river.

LEPENSKI VIR

One of the most important archeological sites in Serbia is located on a terrace by the Danube, in the Djerdap Gorge. Archeological excavations in the 1960s uncovered valuable findings, sacred architecture and monumental sculptures from 7000 to 6000 BC which changed the global notion of the beginnings of civilization.
Beneath layers of settlements of early farmers and cattle breeders from the period 5300�4800 BC, seven layers of successive settlements of hunters, fishermen and gatherers were discovered, built upon one another.

Recovered artifacts, including a number of dwellings, graves depicting unusual burial rituals, various tools and jewelry made of stone, horns and bones, monumental sandstone sculptures and tablets etched with symbols resembling letters, suggest that early tribes of hunter-gatherers inhabiting the terrace next to Lepenski Vir managed to establish complex social relations, produce a specific architectural style and create monumental sculpture from huge pebbles and smaller boulders.

On all located settelements, archeological excavations uncovered 136 dwellings built on a base in the form of a section of a circle, with an outward angle of 60 degrees. The settlements were all built according a specific plan and their harmonious form and functionality suggest a developed sense of architecture. With its ingenious architectural solutions and monumental sculpture, Lepenski Vir stands out as a special and very early stage of prehistoric European culture.

DIANA

One of the largest and best preserved castra (forts) on the Danube, Diana was built of ashlar, most likely between 100 and 101 AD, during the reign of Emperor Trajan, at the same time when a canal was constructed ensuring safer navigation on the Danube. At the time, Diana was the key fortification on the Upper Moeasian limes. Located on a strategic spot, it had a standing military troop tasked with guarding the border and securing the downstream entrance to the canal.

Diana is a rectangular castrum, 100 by 200 meters, with recessed towers in the ramparts. Its final form was accomplished in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries with the addition of a rampart with protruding towers stretching towards the Danube, closing off and protecting a section of the bank. In mid-5th century the Roman castrum was ravaged by the Huns, and later rebuilt by Emperor Justinian around 530 AD.

Apart from the ruins of the rampart with its gates and towers, the interior of the fortress revealed military barracks and other facilities, while beyond the rampart, remains of a smaller settlement were unearthed, along with a shrine and a necropolis. Marble and bronze sculptures and various everyday items discovered in Diana indicate that in addition to being a crucial Roman fortification, the castle was also a major economic centre and port.

GOLUBAC FORTRESS

The Golubac Fort lies on the Danube�s right bank, at the very entrance to the Iron Gates. It was built on a rocky outcrop of a smaller hill, a branch of the Homolje Mountains. City walls follow the natural form of the terrain. Nine massive towers 25 meters in height are connected by a rampart and distributed in a manner that enabled the residents to defend the town from both land and water. The town was reached over a bridge leading across a water-filled moat.

The year of its construction has not been ascertained, but the first written record of the town dates back to 1335. The history of Golubac is a tumultuous one: the town was owned by the Hungarians, followed by the Ottoman Turks, who held it until 1868. All towers are square, except for the donjon tower, which has a polygonal lower section and a cylindrical upper part, which is why it is often referred to as the �Hat Tower�. The shape of the towers indicates that the town was constructed in the pre-firearms era. With the invention of firearms, towers along the west wall were reinforced by polygonal or cylindrical massive enforcements up to two meters thick. Inner towers retained their square shape. At the same time, a polygonal Turkish tower was added to the bastion, with shafts and galleries for cannons, deployed on two levels. It is still unknown how old the fort actually is and who first began its construction. The only thing that has been established for certain is that the first fortification in Golubac on the Danube was built by the Romans in the first century AD. Roman Emperor Diocletian resided in the fort around 299 AD. The town was later destroyed by the Huns, only to be rebuilt by Emperor Justinian. The earliest reference to the town in written historical records dates back to 1335, while somewhat later it was also mentioned by Constantine of Kostenets, a medieval writer and chronicler. Following the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, Golubac fell into the hands of the Ottomans and for centuries it remained a bone of contention between the Hungarians and Turks. It was freed in 1867, and was one of the last towns in Serbia to be liberated. Austrian traveler and naturalist Felix Kanitz recorded in 1895 that the settlement in Golubac comprised 293 houses and had 1,533 residents, as well as a church dedicated to St Nicholas, built in 1843. Archeological research revealed over a hundred ceramic artifacts, iron tools, axes, scraping irons, pickaxes, door latches and spears, which are proof of the rich past of the Golubac fortress.

Legend has it that the town was named Golubac (pigeon-town) because of Byzantine Princess Jelena, who was imprisoned in the main keep (the Hat Tower) overlooking the rest of the town. In order to alleviate her suffering and solitude, the Princess began to keep pigeons, hence the name of the town. According to another legend, a beautiful maiden named Golubana lived in the town long ago. Tales of her beauty reached a Turkish Pasha, who started wooing her, bringing her gifts of silk and pearls, trying to persuade her to marry him. Beautiful Golubana refused Pasha�s gifts and endearments, so he ordered her to be punished by strapping her to a rock above the Danube. She was tortured and left to the birds who mutilated her body. There are also stories claiming that the town was thus named because of the shape of its towers, which resemble pigeons perched on a rock. There are still others who claim that wild pigeons settled on the cliffs and that the town was named after them.

VIMINACIUM

Viminacium, today Kostolac near Po�arevac, where the Mlava flows into the Danube, we find one of the most important Roman towns and military encampments from the period from the 1st to the 6th century. The civilian settlement next to the encampment during the rule of Hadrian (117-138) gained the status of a municipium, a town with a high degree of autonomy. During the reign of Gordian III (239) the town was accorded the status of a Roman citizen colony and the right to mint local currency. Such a status was the highest that could be attained by a town in the Roman Empire. Viminacium was often chosen as a mustering point for troops and a starting point in many a military campaign.

The economy of Viminacium developed quickly thanks to its location on the Danube. The exceptional finds made in the necropoles around the town (more than 14,000 graves have been found so far) confirm the belief that its citizens were very wealthy, and frescoes found in the crypts represent the peak of late classical period art. The town was devastated on several occasions, in invasions by the Goths, Huns and finally the Avars. In and around the town there have been discoveries of an amphitheatre, monumental buildings, lavish thermae (baths) and the remains of a highly-developed infrastructure, first and foremost streets, aqueducts and a sewage system. The discoveries made so far have very much affirmed the special significance of Viminacium as the leading Roman Metropolis on this part of the Danube Limes.