Danube River

Danube River

The Danube is the most important and the second largest river in Europe /after Volga River/ which flows through more countries than any other river in the world – Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Moldova. The Danube River links the countries of the Balkan Peninsula to each other and to the rest of Europe. On its way from the Black Forest (Germany) to its mouth in the Black Sea (Romania and Ukraine), the Danube River passes by or through ten riparian states, which makes it the most international river in the world. The major tributaries of the Danube river are: the Drava, Sava and Drina in the west, the Morava in the south, the Tisza, Tamiš, Moriš and Timok rivers in the north and east were the most important lines of communications. The Danube region is home to over 2,000 plant species and over 5,000 animal species. It hosts over half of the European populations of bears, wolves and lynx as well as important bird sanctuaries for species like Dalmatian pelican.

The Danube River is called as Ister on its lower course according to the name given by the Southern Danube Thracians /ancient Serbs/and taken by the Greeks, while the other name is especially attributed to its upper and middle flow. The Byzantine author also proposes a naive etymology for Danubius: “the Thracians called so, because the air in the neighborhood of the Northern mountains and the wind of Northeast is almost always loaded with clouds because of the excessive dampness and they consider it as the reason for the continuous rainfalls”. Thracians name Danubius the cloud-bringer in their fatherly language, as it flows near Thracia and changes its name for those inhabitants and becomes Danubius. The Lower Danube between the Iron Gates and the Pontes has been regarded in the Roman Empire as the pre-eminently natural border which separates “the Roman soil” (Romanum solum) and “the Barbarian soil” (Barbaricum solum). In the terms of the Roman official ideology, the Danube limes strictly limits the grounds of civilization and of barbarity. The Danube was, during the High Empire, the northern frontier of the Roman world. Of course the tribes were controlled indirectly. It had not always been like that; it was only during the reign of the emperor Claudius that the legions were transferred to the Danube, one of the measures belonging to the Claudian army reforms. To the north of the Danube, the people were no longer Roman, but Germanic or Scythian. A large building program was started along the Roman limes on the Danube during the reigns of Emperors Diocletian and Constantine, as a response to the Gothic invasions. From the Singidunum – Belgrade to the Danube mouths was thus completed a chain of around 160 large and small fortifications, in the provinces Moesia Prima, Dacia Ripensis, Moesia Secunda and Scythia. Emperor Justinian made the Ister River the strongest possible line of first defense before enemies and before the whole of Europe. He fortified the whole interior of Illyricum by distributing numerous forts along the bank of the Ister river, and he placed garrisons of troops everywhere along the shore, in order to put the most rigid check upon the crossing of the barbarians there. The approximate 2000 km long section of the Danube Limes from Eining in Bavaria to the river delta in Romania runs through eight modern countries: Germany (Bavaria), Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. It formed the northern borderline of the Roman empire from the time of the Emperor Augustus to the 6th century AD. The Danube Limes was one of the most important frontier sections of the Roman empire which is proved by the strong military power concentrated along the line. There are hundreds of Roman military installations along the Danube in various states of survival. But there are still sites on this borderline where the exact location and size of the Limes monuments is neither known nor recorded.  The Ada Kale -Ada Kaleh – was the river island on the Danube, 4 km downstream from Tekije, on the spot where the Danube River suddenly winds direction Kladovo, almost along right angle, which went into the history by this name. In the antiquity this island was called Saan, while it was known as the Ducepratum during the Roman rule. The island was 1750 long and only 500 meters wide and for centuries was the strategic point where many invaders fought, with the aim to control navigation along the lower course of the Danube River. In the middle ages there were constant fights for taking over this part of the Danube course, so here were settled Hungarians, Turks, Mongols, Bulgarians… In one moment, as the vassal of the Hungarian Empire, the despot Stefan Lazarevic ruled the Ada Kale island. Prince Eugen of Savoy conquered the island in 1717 when they started construction of the Karolina Fortress, which was called on the Serbian side of the Danube River as the “Fort Elizabet“, after the Austrian Empress Elisabeth, wife of the Hungarian Emperor Carol VI. Ottomans fought for the island all the time, and eventually succeeded to invade it in 1738. Thanks to excellent position, population of the Ada Kale Island maintained close merchandise, intelligence and smuggling relationship with both shores of the Danube River, so every reign provided special custom and tax benefits. The ratluk – rahatluk – Turkish delight was exported, and visitors used to come here to enjoy various sweets, as the alva – halva, rose and fig jam, nargilla…  In 1963 the Ada Kale Island on the Danube was submerged when the Djerdap Hydro-Power plant was constructed. The Kale fort was destroyed, stone by stone, and transferred to the nearby Simijan Island, 18 km downstream, where it has been reconstructed, as well as the graveyard. Other structures on the islans were demolished, in order not to obstruct navigation along the Danube. Population emigrated to Turkey, Yugoslavia and Romania….

With its 2.857 kilometers from its source in Schwarz-wald to the delta in the Black Sea via the Danube Delta on 5500 sq km in Romania and Ukraine, Danube is the second largest river of Europe, ranked by its length as the 33rd in the world. The Danube flow of 2.488 kilometers are navigable and connect 10 neighbor countries. The Danube enters Serbia in the middle of its course at the junction of the borders of Hungary, Croatia and Serbia. The Danube course consists of three parts : the upper – Alpine part, the middle – Pannonian part and the Lower Danube basin – the Vlach Danube while enjoying immense natural beauties. Total length of the Danube River in Serbia is 588 km and its passes towns of Novi Sad and Belgrade, among other smaller settlements. Attractive cycling trail has been established along the shores of the Danube River which welcomes numerous bicyclers from Serbia and abroad keen to explore this most beautiful course of the river.

The Danube region is a grape-growing area with unique geographic and cultural features that influence a wine’s taste and quality. Viticulture in the Danube Region is over two thousand years old. The wines produced in the region were among the best in Europe in the 19th century. Vineyards accompany visitors all along the way on the Danube Wine Route and wine tastings are offered in perfectly restored and modernized wineries. Many of them boast hundreds of years of grape growing tradition. Celebration of international Danube day is a part of Blue Week festival. Blue & Wine Expo takes place in a lovely Bulgarian city of Ruse, where local wine makers from the Danube region present their wines at Ruse’s fabulous Dohodno zdanie building. The festival continues with parallel events in Serbia and Romania. While in Belgrade visitors and locals enjoy the river from the kayaks during Blue Rowing event, Serbia’s Kladovo and Romania’s Drobeta-Turnu Severin unite in Bike Fest organization followed by new cycling trail opening.
The landscape and nature along the Danube course in Serbia change from flat land to hills and wild canyons, creating the most magnificent part of the huge river. Danube’s most spectacular part is the Djerdap Gorge, known also as the Iron Gate where one can learn its uniqueness just observing the scenery. Forests, fields and river water-fronts are living space for diversified animals and plants. Nature and ecosystems in the Danube area provide invaluable environmental goods and services. Danube and its surroundings and hinterland were settlements of almost all prehistorical civilizations that left numerous evidences on one of the most brilliant culture of European prehistory which has dominated on the Middle and the Southeastern Europe. The origin of the first European civilizations existed here 10000 years ago and as their followers, many different cultures left behind their traces of incomparable historical values still offering a quick glance into the past /Donja Branjevina, Vinca, Starcevo, Vlasac, Lepenski Vir cultures../. For visitors, the Danube-area in Serbia offers large amount of opportunities to experience an extensive Nature and outstanding Culture closely.

We are proud to be among founders of the European Cultural Routes project of the DCC Danube Emperors and Wines along the Danube, which provides visitors various opportunities to discover the rich Roman heritage along the Danube River, in tour packages including Roman sites of Serbia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria /or their combination/, while cruising along the Danube on the beautiful ship and enjoying the tastes and flavors of special wines of the Danube. “Wines from the Danube Region” Masterclass – Explore and expand your knowledge of varieties, styles and wine regions along the Danube, during intimate wine education session, while cruising on the river. A member of our team will guide you through a tasting of carefully selected wines which best express the traditions and characteristics of wine regions, grapes or winemakers along the Danube River. Danube Competence Center (DCC) is an association of tourism actors for sustainable and competitive Destination Danube. DCC contributes to the development of sustainable tourism in the Danube region through advocacy at regional, national and European level, initiating and implementing relevant tourism development activities, marketing tourism services and products of high-quality and promoting the mutual interests of the members.