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.

It is known in science that the Biblical name of the Danube was Fison. In antiquity the Danube River was 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 river course. The Illyrians, Romans and Ripians /population of the present Banat county whose name comes from the name of the Roman Province of Dacia Ripensis/ called this river Danubius, while the Goths called it Dunabis. 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 Djerdap Iron Gates and the Pontes Euxinus has been regarded in the Roman Empire as the preeminently 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 River 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 – present 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.

Syrmus of Syrmos, also Syrmios was a king of the west Thracian Triballi tribe during 330 BC, mentioned by Arrian, Strabo and Plutarch. After the death of Phillip, Alexander the Great passed through the lands of the Odryssians in 335-334 BC, crossing the Heamus ranges and after three encounters including the Battle of Heamus, had defeated and drove out the Triballians to the junction of the Lyginus at the Danube. Around 3000 Triballi were killed, the rest fled. Syrmos and his people took refuge on the Danube island of Peuke where the most of the remnants of the defeated Thracians were exiled. Thracian tribes sent tribute to Alexander seeking peace. Alexander was satisfied with his victories and accepted peace so he could focus on the battles ahead in Asia.

The approximate 2000 km long section of the Danube Limes from Eining in Bavaria to the Danube 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 island 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 Dunav-Tisa-Dunav /Danube-Tisa-Danube/ channel system is 960 km long, of which some 550 km is navigable. The Dunav-Tisa-Dunav /Danube-Tisa-Danube/ is unique channel network which connects courses of the Danube and the Tisa rivers and makes the hydro-technical system for irrigation, water supply, drainage and protection from floods, navigation, nautical tourism, fishing and forest planting. Until the 18th century when the first channels had been constructed, Vojvodina was marshy area that was constantly flooded, so it was rarely populated. For example, in south of the Backa area there were in the 17th century only 2-3 inhabitants per square kilometer. In 1718 started excavations for the artificial channel of 70 km in the Banat area from Timisoara to Klek which was the most endangered area by flooding.  There were two channels constructed in Backa, the first one in 1785 between Kula and Vrbas, and the second channel between Sivac and Vrbas, constructed in 1787. The Large Backa Channel constructed from 1793 till 1801 according to plans of brothers Joszef and Gabor Kish is considered the direct forerunner of the Danube-Tisa-Danube channel system. By its length of 114 km, the Large Backa Channel was in that time the largest water management project in the Danube region and the southeast Europe. The author of the idea of the modern DTD Hydro-system was engineer Nikola Mirkov who presented his project development in 1947. Prior to construction works, there were only 170 km channels. Design elaboration of the DTD Hydro-system lasted for a whole decade, while construction works were carried out from 1957 until 1977. The year of 1977 when the Dam on the Tisa river was finished is considered the end of construction of the Danube-Tisa-Danube hydro system of channels.

During project development and construction works of the DTD Hydro-system it was one of the largest investments in Yugoslavia. Its size can be determined by the fact that such a complex hydro system demanded digging of 130 million cubic meters of earth, while for the construction of the Panama Canal which connects the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean was excavated 179 million cubic meters of earth. The project development lasted 2 decades and engaged 400 engineers, with 1300 research studies written and over 35000 graphic drawings completed. There was a half of million cubic meters of concrete placed into the DTD channels Hydro-system. Unfortunately the DTD Hydro-system benefits are today used only in small size…. For example, the aim of the DTD channel project was irrigation of more than half a million hectares of agriculture land, but today only tenth of that surface is irrigated. The DTD Channel Hydro-system is used for navigation and transport of goods, given that planned potential was transportation of 7 million tons of goods which was never achieved. Due to poor maintenance, today ships carrying more than 1500 tons can not navigate. The DTD hydro system of channels is rich in fish, but in some parts is used as location for industrial waste water emission that unfortunately happens in the Danube River…..

“Danube River had always inspired artists and creative people among whom was Jovan Ivanović or Iosif Ivanovici /1845-1902/, Romanian composer of the Serb origin, often regarded as the King of waltz. His talent for music brought him status of one of the best musician in the military orchestra. Jovan Ivanovic used in his compositions scenes primarily connected with Transylvania from where he originated – Timisoara, he was immeasurably proud of. Ivanović was one of the best conductors of his time, he composed music for piano accompaniment, with the Danube Waves Waltz that made him highly popular and respected in the world. He left rich music repertoire of some 350 compositions among some are widely famous and often performed in the world“. Rasen, Marija Đorđević

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.

“Veliki Bački kanal” – the Large Backa Channel, also Kis’s or Franz’s or king Peter’s channel, is part of the channel system Dunav-Tisa-Dunav /Danube-Tisa-Danube/. The “Veliki Bački kanal” – Large Backa Channel is 118 km long and connects the Danube river at Bezdan and the Tisa river by Bečej. The channel bottom is 17-25 meters wide, with the average depth of 3 meters. Construction of the part of the channel from Bezdan till Sivac started on 6 May 1793 and was performed by hands. There were some 3000 workers engaged in construction and digging of the Large Backa Channel, mostly the French prisoners.  The Large Backa Channel started its function in 1802.

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.