Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Area Attractions

Cruises and road trips

croaziereCruises in Danube Caldrons with visiting many points ofinterests: Bustrul Decebal, Veterani and Ponicova Caves, Tabula Traiana, Mraconia Monastery .

Hike to the Ciucaru Mare (320m altitude offers unique panoramic places.

Trip to Ponicova waterfall.

Hiking the slope Ciucaru Mic.

Saint Ana Monastery

sfanta-anaSt Ana Monastery - is a monastery of nuns having a parish life, in Orsova, Mehedinti County, which has Saint Ana as a patron, celebrated on July 25. It is located on Mosului Hill (mean. "old man's hill"), a place that offers a unique landscape.

The monastery was founded by the journalist Pamfil Seicaru, fighting here as a lieutenant in the First World War; he wanted to express his gratitude to God because he survived after having been buried here by a bomb explosion. As soon as he raised enough finances he started the construction of the monastery in 1936 and finished it in 1939. He named the place St. Ana after his mother, Ana. The construction was built in traditional wooden churches style, the church was in the center of the monastery and the complex of cells for the nuns built on the sides. The consecration of the monastery took place on the 2nd of December 1990, and was carried by the bishop Damaschin Severineanu. The interior paintings were erased during the communist period, keeping only the paintings of the tower. During the communist regime, St. Ana Monastery served as a sanatorium for patients suffering from tuberculosis and as a camp for children, the church being transformed for a while in a bar then in a motel reception. Nearby was built a restaurant, building which passed in management of the monastery in 1993. After the fall of the communist regime, in 1990 the place went back serving its initial purpose. Later on a belfry and a summer altar were also built as well as the museum building, Pamfil Seicaru Memorial Museum, opened in 1995. Between 1993-1997 extensive restoration works were carried out, the iconostasis and wall paintings being restored and then consecrated by Metropolitan Nestor Vornicescu in 1999.

Pamfil Seicaru (born 1894, Buzau, died 1980, Munchen/Germany) was an eminent romanian journalist, director of "Curentul" (the current) newspaper, the most militant newspaper in inter-war period. Seicaru was Licentiate in Law, fought as an officer in World War I and held the position of deputy to the Romanian Parliament in 1928, 1931 and 1933. He was considered a talented and intuitive journalist.

Tabula Traiana

tabula-traianaTabula Traiana - a monument rised by Roman emperor Trajan, the enemy of king Decebalus, to mark the triumphant march of the Roman troops to Dacia as well as to commemorate the victories of the Roman empire against Dacian kingdom in 105 A.D. "Tabula" is almost 2000 years old and it is located on the Serbian side of the river at the end of the Small Caldrons, not far from Decebalus' head. There used to be 10 plaques of this kind along Danube gorge, but only Tabula Traiana is preserved, other 4 are represented in drawings and stamps from the 18th and 19th century. Tabula Traiana contains richly decorated Latin text carved with ornaments of dolphins and an eagle with its wings spread, in the stone of dimensions 4 m x 1.75 m, with the following text: "Emperor Caesar son of the divine Nerva, Nerva Trajan, the Augustus, Germanicus, Pontifex Maximus, invested for the fourth time as Tribune, Father of the Fatherland, Consul for the third time, excavating mountain rocks and using wood beams has made this road". The plaque was originally 30 meters lower, but it was lifted above the waterline with the construction of the hydroelectric power station.

Statue of Decebalus

chipul-lui-decebalThe statue of Dacian king Decebalus is the most popular tourist attraction in the Danube Caldrons area. It is located within Big Caldrons, in the valley of Mraconia, at the junction of Mraconia and Danube, between Eselnita and Dubova villages, at about 18 km distance from Orsova.

It is the highest rock sculpture in Europe, measuring 40 meters in height and 25 meters in width, only 6 meters shorter than the Statue of Liberty and 10 meters higher than the legendary Colossus of Rhodes. The idea belonged to Romanian businessman and historian Iosif Constantin Dragan and it took 10 years (1994 - 2004) for twelve sculptors led by Florin Cotarcea to finish it, at a cost of over one million dollars. Under the face of Decebalus there is a Latin inscription "DECEBALUS REX DRAGAN FECIT" (meaning King Decebalus - made by Dragan).

Mraconia Monastery

mraconiaPlaced in the Danube defile in the Caldrons area on the valley of Mracuna (meaning "hidden place" or "dark water") where an old monastery used to exist until 1967. While building the Iron Gates I hydro-electric power plant, the old monastery was sacrificed as the reservoir flooded the ruins of the place swallowing it entirely, so that it was named by the natives "the underwater monastery". When the level of water goes down the cross-shaped ruins of the old monastery can be seen with the naked eye. Through the ages, it was also known as The Monastery in the Danube Valley or The Monastery of Ogradena Veche, a village in Mehedinti county which was also flooded by the waters of the Danube reservoir.

Documents attest the Mracunia Monastery in the year 1453, when the priest and historian Nicolae Stoica from Hateg, archpriest of Mehadia, wrote in 1829 that "fearing Ottoman Turks, after the defeat at Varna and the occupation of Constantinople in 1453, Mracunia monks found refuge at Orsova". In the year 1523, the place protected by Saint Prophet Ilie was placed under the jurisdiction of Varset Episcopate.
Although the establishment was damaged over time, in 1788 it was still inhabited. Later, it was destroyed in Russo-Austro-Turkish war between 1787 and 1792, as it was actually caught in the middle of the fight. In 1823, among ruins the engraved seal of the old convent was found (ÑPeceat manastirea Lubostinie Hram Uspenia Persvistaia Bogaraditi Leto 1735ì) and in 1853 an icon of Virgin Mary.
In 1931 the rebuilding of the monastery started and, due to the intense activity of the monah Alexe Udrea, in 1947 it was covered with shingle, only to be destroyed again in 1967 by the waters of Danube as the Iron Gates were rising. In 1993, the Metropolitan Nestor Vorniceanu started the second reconstruction of the monastery patronized by St. Archangels Mihail and Gavriil and The Holy Trinity. The works were completed in 1999-2000. The church is built in the shape of a cross and it's divided into the altar, the nave, the pro-nave and an open porch. The structure of the building is of brick walls.

Veterani Cave

pestera-veteraniVeterani's Cave or Veterans Cave was named after Veterani, who was aide-de-camp to austrian commander Ianovici and who had fortified the cave at the end of the 17th century.

The cave is situated at the left side of the Big Caldrons, dug inside the Ciucaru Mare mountain, under Panza Curii stone wall, 500 meters downstream from Gura Ponicovei Cave. The cave has only one access way - by boat, at the base of the wall there's a little pontoon and a short steep path leads to the entrance. Archaeological research shows that the cave was known to man since ancient times. Dacians considered the cave one of Zalmoxis' sanctuaries. In the 13th century the cave was fortified for the first time by building stone walls, by then the cave was referred to as "Peth". At the end of the 17th century the cave was fortified again by austrian army, being used as a place of cantonment for 200 austrian soldiers. A.F. Marsigli, military engineer in Austrian army, is the first one to publish the fortification map and a description of the cave then known as "Piscabara" in 1692.

It is a medium sized fossil cave, 64 meters long with the paths inside it going slightly upwards. It is accessible through a short gallery and it's hall has a lenght of 37 meters, a width of 28 m and a height of 20 m, being naturally lightened through a window-like hole. At the gallery entry there is a fortification wall partially damaged and at the bottom of the hall there's a fountain, "Turkish Fountain". The cavern can be visited any time of the year, especially from May to October, safety equipment required: rubber boots, overall, helmet and a lantern.

Ponicova Cave

pestera-ponicovaPonicova Cave is the most important and large underground cavity in the Danube Gorges, taking birth in the wall of limestone which flanks Big Caldrons, Ciucaru Mare mountain. It is situated near the Dubova village, Mehedinti county, Oltenia. Its galleries, summing 1660 meters, cross Ciucaru Mare and exit in the Danube. It is partially flooded.

Ponicova cave has two entrances and its accessible both on land and on the Danube by boat or motorboat, sailing 500 meters under the wall of Ciucaru Mare. There is another entry near Ponicova brook, whose waters have carved a natural bridge of about 6 to 8 meters high and 25 m long and some gorges of a wild beauty.
The whole area is part of the Iron Gates Natural Park which was created in order to protect some sub mediterranean species as well as the the unique scenery. Here, one can admire numerous shapes and sizes of concretions: stalactites and stalagmites, white calcite floor, cave pearls, domes, columns, curtains.
There are several galleries, first Ogas Gallery, or entering through a narrow path there's the Bat's Gallery which is a 100 meters long, 60 meters wide and 30 meters high hall. On the ground one can see holes, concretions, even guano from the bats living here. From the Ogas Gallery there are two paths, one is leading to the Gallery of Concretions, the most beautiful part of the cave where anemolites cand be seen and to the Column Hall, and the other leads to Ladder's Gallery and Clay's Gallery. Ponicova Cave is declared spelaeological reservation, so it is not really designed for visitors, but can be explored by tourists, accompanied by an authorized guide and safety equipment and lights, because one tour takes 2 to 3 hours. Researchers have discovered in Ponicova cave bear bones, endemic species and an ancient piece of ceramics.

Trikkule Castle

trikuleTriKule Castle, meaning "three towers" ("kule" = tower, in Turkish), was built in the 15th century in order to stop Ottoman expansion towards west and it's ruins can be seen nowadays 5 km downstream of Svinita village.

TriKule Fortress, placed on the left bank of Danube used to have three towers triangularly disposed, each 10 m high tower at one top of the triangle, 20 meters away from each other at the base and 40 meters away from the one tower closer to the river. Now, only two towers can be seen above the water, the other tower being ruined and entirely sunk by the waters. At times, when the reservoir's level is low, the ruins of the third tower appears visible.

Danube Caldrons

cazanele-dunariiBig Caldrons and Small Caldrons nature reservation is a mixt reservation with a surface of 215 hectares located between Ogradena valley and Ogasul Turcului, in the territory of Dubova town.
In this area the Danube crosses the narrowest and most imposing part of its defile, the Danube Caldrons. The Danube Caldrons is the section of the defile that lays between the river mouths of Plavisevita and Ogradena, split by the Dubova water catchment into Big Caldrons and Small Caldrons. The Big Caldrons are situated between Dubova water catchment and Plavisevita, with a length of 3.8 km, edged by the steep walls of Ciucaru Mare mountain (318m) on the left romanian side and Veliki Strbac mountain (768m) on the right side, in Serbia. From Dubova water catchment to Ogradena, measuring 3,6 km in lenght, Small Caldrons can be found, edged by Ciucaru Mic mountain (313m) and Mali Strbac mountain (626m).
The flora in the area of the caldrons contains both submediterranean and central european elements. At the bottom of the steep stone one can find: beech tree, Carpinus orientalis, fraxinus, maple, turkish hazel. In sunny places Turkey oak, Downy oak, holm-oak and wild lilac can be found, whereas in shady places at no more than 120 m altitude a natural monument grows: the European yew (Taxus baccata). Other protected plants within the reservation are: Caldrons' tulip (or tulipa hungarica), balkan iris, Caldrons bellflower, cephalaria, common soapwort, Snow-in-Summer, feather grass. The fauna of the Caldrons area include Hermann's tortoise, horned viper, european green lizard, and bats inside the caves.

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