Cazanele Dunarii, the unique place where Danube embraces rock
An exquisite travel destination in Romania, bound up with the country’s largest milenary river, the Danube.
Cazanele Dunarii/ Danube’s Depressions represent an exquisite nine-kilometer sector of the Danube Gorge, located near Carpathian Mountains’ pass in southern Banat. Danube is narrowing here amid rocky upright cliffs, making navigation difficult, and yet crossing the most sublime area of narrow pass. There are two depressions in fact, ‘Cazanele Mari’ and ‘Cazanele Mici’, both sharing the natural beauty of the landscape. Close by Cazanele Mici, the Danube has the largest width – 120 meters.
Cazanele Dunarii, Ciucaru Mare and Ciucaru Mic massifs belong to the Iron Gates Natural Park where the tripper can find unique sights such as 2,000 year-old Tabula Traiana memorial plague, ruins of Tricule citadel, Ponicova and Veterani caves and the statue of the last Dacian king Decebal, carved inside the massive rocks.
Having 55 meters in height and 25 meters in width, the famous rock-hewed face of the Dacian iconic forerunner imposingly stands among mountains as if defying time and keeping a close look-out for potential invaders.
The idea of this monumental sculpture belonged to the late businessman Iosif Constantin Dragan who financed the works that lasted for ten years, during 1994-2004. Twelve climber-sculptors have been toiling at the huge sculpture whose cost exceeded USD 1 M. The statue is inspired by the famous sculptures on Rushmore Mountain in USA and it is six meters smaller than the Liberty Statue but eight meters higher than Rio de Janeiro’s Jesus Christ. With its impressive size, Decebal statue is the most visited sight in the region.
Near the giant carving, on the Serbian shore of the Danube River, one can find the far-famed Tabula Traiana, the memorial erected by Roman emperor Traian 2,000 years ago to mark the imperial Roman troops’ march to Dacia. Tabula is fixed on a stone platform bearing the sculptures of two dolphins swimming and an eagle flying up in the sky.
Up to the calcareous cliffs of the Ciucaru Mare Mountain several cave entrances are opening to the sight. One of them, Ponicova cave should not be missed. 1.6 kilometers long, the cave is the widest in the Danube Gorge. Time and water have carved here impressive domes and pillars, stalactites and stalagmites of various shapes and sizes, as well as curtains and a white calcium floor, just like in a fairytale crystal palace.
Veterani cave is also extremely unique, as you can reach it only by water. It is one of the oldest cave in Romania, being dwelled 4,000 years ago. The primitive human being used it for shelter, Dacians used to worship Zamolxis god here, while the Turks and Austrians disposed of it for military purposes. Today tourists are searching for rare souvenirs inside the cave and others are looking for legendary alleged treasures of Maria Teresa or Serbian tsar Obrenovici.
Tragic incidents are related to this cave, unfortunately. Romanian-born Karol, established in Australia for 20 years, was a treasure hunter who died in the cave’s neighborhood in 1994, while digging to find secret treasures.