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The Iron Gates
Iron Gates
(Romanian: Porțile de Fier, Serbian: Đerdapska klisura, Bulgarian: Железни врата, German: Eisernes Tor, Hungarian: Vaskapu) is a gorge on the river Danube. It forms part of the boundary between Serbia
Serbia
(to the south) and Romania
Romania
(north). In the broad sense it encompasses a route of 134 km (83 mi); in the narrow sense it only encompasses the last barrier on this route, just beyond the Romanian city of Orșova, that contains two hydroelectric dams, with two power stations, Iron Gate I Hydroelectric Power Station and Iron Gate II Hydroelectric Power Station. At this point in the Danube, the river separates the southern Carpathian Mountains
Carpathian Mountains
from the northwestern foothills of the Balkan Mountains. The Romanian side of the gorge constitutes the Iron Gates natural park, whereas the Serbian part constitutes the Đerdap national park. Archaeologists have named the Iron Gates mesolithic
Iron Gates mesolithic
culture, of the central Danube
Danube
region circa 13,000 to 5,000 years ago, after the gorge.

Contents

1 Toponymy 2 Natural physical features

2.1 Gorges 2.2 Navigation and channels 2.3 Dams

3 History

3.1 Prehistoric and Roman era 3.2 Ada Kaleh 3.3 19th century

4 Cultural references to the Iron Gates

4.1 Literature 4.2 Film 4.3 Music

5 Gallery 6 See also 7 References 8 Further reading 9 External links

Toponymy[edit]

Kazan gorge at its narrowest point

In English, the gorge is known as Iron Gates
Iron Gates
or Iron Gate. An 1853 article about the Danube
Danube
in The Times of London referred to it as "the Iron Gate, or the Gate of Trajan."[1] In languages of the region including Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak, Czech, German and Bulgarian, names literally meaning "Iron Gates" are used to name the entire range of gorges. These names are Romanian: Porțile de Fier (pronounced [ˈport͡sile de ˈfjer], Hungarian: Vaskapu, Slovak: Železné vráta, Polish: Żelazne Wrota, German: Eisernes Tor, and Bulgarian: Железни врата Železni vrata"). An alternative Romanian name for the last part of the route is Defileul Dunării, literally " Danube
Danube
Gorge". In Serbian, the gorge is known as Đerdap (Ђердап; [d͡ʑě̞rdaːp]), with the last part named Đerdapska klisura (Ђердапска клисура; [d͡ʑě̞rdaːpskaː klǐsura]) from the Byzantine Greek
Byzantine Greek
Κλεισούρα (kleisoura), "enclosure" or "pass." Natural physical features[edit] Gorges[edit]

The Roman plaque "Tabula Traiana", Serbia

The first narrowing of the Danube
Danube
lies beyond the Romanian isle of Moldova Veche
Moldova Veche
and is known as the Golubac
Golubac
gorge. It is 14.5 km long and 230 m (755 ft) wide at the narrowest point. At its head, there is a medieval fort at Golubac, on the Serbian bank. Through the valley of Ljupovska lies the second gorge, Gospodjin Vir, which is 15 km long and narrows to 220 m (722 ft). The cliffs scale to 500 m and are the most difficult to reach here from land. The broader Donji Milanovac forms the connection with the Great and the Small Kazan gorge, which have a combined length of 19 km (12 mi). The Orșova
Orșova
valley is the last broad section before the river reaches the plains of Wallachia
Wallachia
at the last gorge, the Sip gorge.

The Great Kazan (kazan meaning "cauldron" or "reservoir") is the most famous and the most narrow gorge of the whole route: the river here narrows to 150 m and reaches a depth of up to 53 m (174 ft). Navigation and channels[edit]

The riverbed rocks and the associated rapids made the gorge valley an infamous passage for shipping, even for the most seasoned boatmen. During the period of the Ottoman rule, the ships were guided through by the local navigators, familiar with the routes, called kalauz (from Turkish kalavuz, meaning guide, travel leader). During the rule of prince Miloš Obrenović, local Serbs gradually took over from the Ottomans, being officially appointed by the prince. In order not to aggravate the Ottomans further, the prince named Serbian navigators by a Turkish name, dumendžibaša, from dümen (rudder) and baş (head, chief, master). The navigation fee was divided among dumendžibaša, loc (river pilots) and regional municipalities.[2] In German, the passage is still known as the Kataraktenstrecke, even though the cataracts are gone. Near the actual "Iron Gates" strait the Prigrada rock was the most important obstacle (until 1896): the river widened considerably here and the water level was consequently low. Upstream, the Greben rock near the "Kazan" gorge was notorious.[citation needed] Some of the channels created included:[3]

Stenka, 1,900 m (6,200 ft) long, with 10 navigational signals (originally, the balloons were used) Izlaz-Tahatlija, 2,351 m (7,713 ft), with 7 signals Svinița, 1,200 m (3,900 ft), with 4 signals Juc, 1,260 m (4,130 ft), with 5 signals Sip, 4,375 m (14,354 ft) Mali Đerdap, 1,050 m (3,440 ft), as an extension of Sip Channel

In total, 15,465 m (50,738 ft) of navigable channels was created.[3] They were flooded when the artificial Lake Đerdap was created (early 1970s). The results of these efforts were slightly disappointing. The currents in the Sip Channel were so strong at 15kts (8 m/s) that (until 1973), ships had to be dragged upstream along the canal by locomotive. The Iron Gates
Iron Gates
thus remained an obstacle of note.[citation needed] Dams[edit]

Iron Gate I dam

Hydropower site Iron Gates
Iron Gates
(1970)

The construction of the joint Romanian-Yugoslavian mega project commenced in 1964. In 1972 the Iron Gate I Dam
Dam
was opened, followed by Iron Gate II Dam, in 1984, along with two hydroelectric power stations, two sluices and navigation locks for shipping. The construction of these dams gave the valley of the Danube
Danube
below Belgrade
Belgrade
the nature of a reservoir, and additionally caused a 35 m rise in the water level of the river near the dam. The old Orșova, the Danube
Danube
island of Ada Kaleh
Ada Kaleh
(below) and at least five other villages, totaling a population of 17,000, had to make way. People were relocated and the settlements have been lost forever to the Danube. The dam's construction had a major impact on the local fauna and flora as well—for example, the spawning routes of several species of sturgeon were permanently interrupted. The flora and fauna, as well as the geomorphological, archaeological and cultural historical artifacts of the Iron Gates
Iron Gates
have been under protection of both nations since the construction of the dam. In Serbia
Serbia
this was done with the Đerdap National Park (since 1974, 636.08 km2 (245.59 sq mi)) and in Romania
Romania
by the Porțile de Fier National Park (since 2001, 1,156.55 km2 (446.55 sq mi)). History[edit] Prehistoric and Roman era[edit] Sandstone
Sandstone
statues dated to the early neolithic era indicate that the area has been inhabited for a very long time. Even more significant are the Iron Gates mesolithic
Iron Gates mesolithic
(c. 13,000 to 5,000 BP) sites – in particular, the gorge of Gospodjin Vir, which contains the major archaeological site of Lepenski Vir
Lepenski Vir
(unearthed in the 1960s). Lepenski Vir is often regarded as the most important mesolithic site in south-east Europe. East of the Great Kazan the Roman emperor Trajan
Trajan
built the legendary bridge erected by Apollodorus of Damascus. Construction of the bridge ran from 103 through 105, preceding Trajan's final conquest of Dacia. (On the right (Serbian) bank a Roman plaque commemorates him. On the Romanian bank, at the Small Kazan, a likeness of Decebalus, Trajan's Dacian opponent was carved in rock in 1994–2004.) Ada Kaleh[edit] Main article: Ada Kaleh

Ada Kaleh
Ada Kaleh
in the 19th century

Perhaps the most evocative consequence of the Đerdap dam's construction was the flooding of an islet named Ada Kaleh. A former Turkish exclave, it had a mosque and a thousand twisting alleys, and was known as a free port and smuggler's nest. Many other ethnic groups lived there beside Turks. The island was about 3 km (1.9 mi) downstream from Orșova and measured 1.7 by 0.4-0.5 km. It was walled; the Austrians built a fort there in 1669 to defend it from the Turks, and that fort would remain a bone of contention for the two empires. In 1699 the island came under Turkish control, from 1716 to 1718 it was Austrian, after a four-month siege in 1738 it was Turkish again, followed by the Austrians reconquering it in 1789, only to have to yield it to the Turks in the following peace treaty.

Ada Kaleh
Ada Kaleh
in 1912

Thereafter, the island lost its military importance. The 1878 Congress of Berlin forced the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
to retreat far into the south, but the island remained the property of the Turkish sultan, allegedly because the treaty neglected to mention it. The inhabitants enjoyed exemption from taxes and customs and were not conscripted. In 1923, when the Ottoman monarchy had disappeared, the island was given to Romania
Romania
in the Treaty of Lausanne The Ada Kaleh
Ada Kaleh
mosque dated from 1903 and was built on the site of an earlier Franciscan
Franciscan
monastery. The mosque's carpet, a gift from the Turkish sultan Abdülhamid II, has been located in the Constanța mosque since 1965. Most Ada Kaleh
Ada Kaleh
inhabitants emigrated to Turkey
Turkey
after the evacuation of the island. A smaller part went to Northern Dobruja, another Romanian territory with a Turkish minority. 19th century[edit] By the early 19th century, freedom of navigation on the Danube
Danube
was regarded as important by many different states in the region and beyond. Allowing passage through the Iron Gates
Iron Gates
by larger vessels had become a priority. By 1831 a plan had been drafted to make the passage navigable, at the initiative of Hungarian politician István Széchenyi. Finally Gábor Baross, Hungary's "Iron Minister", succeeded in financing this project.[citation needed] Not being satisfied with the solutions compiled by the Austrio-Hungarian government and the Austro-Turkish commission, the government of Hungary formed its own commission for the organization of the navigation through the Iron Gates. The project was finished in 1883. Works on the gorge section were done by the Hungarian Technical Administration, over 11 years from 1889. The works were divided in two sectors, the upper and the lower Iron Gates. The channels in the upper section, at the town of Orșova
Orșova
(the tripoint between Austria-Hungary, Romania
Romania
and Serbia
Serbia
at the time) were up to 60 m (197 ft) wide and 2 m (7 ft) deep, at the zero water level in Orșova. In the southern section, the channels were 60 m (197 ft) wide and 3 m (10 ft) deep, except for the Sip Channel, which was 73 m (240 ft) wide.[3] In 1890, near Orșova, the last border town of Hungary, rocks were cleared by explosion over a 2 km (1.2 mi) stretch in order to create channels. A spur of the Greben Mountains was removed across a length of over 2 km (1.2 mi). Here, a depth of 2 m (7 ft) sufficed. On 17 September 1896, the Sip Channel thus created (named after the Serbian Sip village on the right bank) was inaugurated by the Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph, the Romanian king Carol I, and the Serbian king Alexander Obrenovich.[citation needed] Cultural references to the Iron Gates[edit] Literature[edit]

Two novels – The Valley of Horses
The Valley of Horses
(1982) and The Plains of Passage (1990) – in Jean M. Auel's series Earth's Children focus on the difficulties of prehistoric people traveling through or around the Iron Gates
Iron Gates
in both during scene sequences detailing travel adventures whilst the protagonists navigate between the upper and lower Danube valleys. The 1986 book Between the Woods and the Water, by travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor, describes a night on the now submerged island Ada Kaleh
Ada Kaleh
and a trip by ferry through the Iron Gates, in August, 1934.

Film[edit]

The 2003 film Donau, Duna, Dunaj, Dunav, Dunarea contains several minutes of film of the Iron Gates.

Music[edit]

The Iron Gates
Iron Gates
are mentioned in the second verse of the Zvonko Bogdan song Rastao sam pored Dunava. The folk song Jugoslavijo by Milutin Popović, commonly called Od Vardara pa do Triglava, includes a mention of the Iron Gates
Iron Gates
in the beginning.

Gallery[edit]

Ponicova cave

Mraconia Monastery

Iron Gates
Iron Gates
Museum

See also[edit]

Commissions of the Danube
Danube
River Danube
Danube
River Conference of 1948 Defile (geography) Energy in Romania

References[edit]

^ "The Seat of War on the Danube," The Times, December 29, page 8 ^ "Да ли знате: Како су некада звали спроводнике лађа на Ђердапу?" [Do you know: how the Đerdap navigators were used to be called?]. Politika
Politika
(in Serbian). 31 January 2018. p. 32.  ^ a b c "Da li znate? - Kada je regulisana plovidba kroz đerdapski sektor?" [Do you know? - When was the navigation through the Iron Gates sector regulated?], Politika
Politika
(in Serbian), p. 30, 8 October 2017 

Further reading[edit]

Bonsall, Clive; Lennon, Rosemary; McSweeney, Kathleen; Stewart, Catriona; Harkness, Douglas; Boronean, Vasile; Bartosiewicz, László; Payton, Robert; Chapman, John (1997). "Mesolithic and Early Neolithic in the Iron Gates: A Paiaeodietary Perspective". Journal of European Archaeology. 5 (1): 50–92. doi:10.1179/096576697800703575. Archived from the original on 2013-01-26.  Bonsall, C; Cook, G T; Hedges, R E M; Higham, T F G; Pickard, C; Radovanović, I (2004). "Radiocarbon and stable isotope evidence of dietary change from the Mesolithic to the Middle Ages in the iron gates: New results from Lepenski Vir". Radiocarbon. 46 (1): 293–300.  Teodoru, Cristian; Wehrli, Bernhard (2005). "Retention of Sediments and Nutrients in the Iron Gate I Reservoir on the Danube
Danube
River". Biogeochemistry. 76 (3): 539–65. doi:10.1007/s10533-005-0230-6.  Micić, Vesna; Kruge, Michael; Körner, Petra; Bujalski, Nicole; Hofmann, Thilo (2010). "Organic geochemistry of Danube
Danube
River sediments from Pančevo (Serbia) to the Iron Gate dam (Serbia–Romania)". Organic Geochemistry. 41 (9): 971–4. doi:10.1016/j.orggeochem.2010.05.008.  Roksandic, Mirjana; Djurić, Marija; Rakočević, Zoran; Seguin, Kimberly (2006). "Interpersonal violence at Lepenski Vir Mesolithic/Neolithic complex of the Iron Gates
Iron Gates
Gorge (Serbia-Romania)". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 129 (3): 339–48. doi:10.1002/ajpa.20286. PMID 16323188.  Boric, Dusan; Miracle, Preston (2004). "Mesolithic and Neolithic (Dis)Continuities in the Danube
Danube
Gorges: New Ams Dates from Padina and Hajducka Vodenica (Serbia)". Oxford Journal of Archaeology. 23 (4): 341–71. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0092.2004.00215.x.  Bonsall, Clive (2008). "The Mesolithic of the Iron Gates". In Bailey, Geoff; Spikins, Penny. Mesolithic Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 238–79. ISBN 978-0-521-85503-7. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Iron Gate (Danube).

(in Romanian) Porțile de Fier National Park (in Serbian) Iron Gates
Iron Gates
in 1965 on YouTube (in Serbian) Lepenski Vir (in German) Ada Kaleh, die Inselfestung, also the source of the Ada Kaleh section in this article

Coordinates: 44°40′16″N 22°31′47″E / 44.67111°N 22.52972°E / 44.67111; 22.52972

v t e

National parks of Serbia

Đerdap Fruška Gora Kopaonik Šar Mountains Tara

v t e

Protected areas of Romania

Biosphere reserves

Danube
Danube
Delta Retezat Rodna

National parks

Buila-Vânturarița Călimani Ceahlău Cheile Bicazului-Hășmaș Cheile Nerei-Beușnița Cozia Defileul Jiului Domogled-Valea Cernei Măcin Mountains Piatra Craiului Mountains Rodna Semenic-Cheile Carașului

Nature parks

Apuseni Balta Mică a Brăilei Bucegi Cefa Cindrel Comana Defileul Mureșului Superior Dumbrava Sibiului Grădiștea Muncelului-Cioclovina Hateg Country Dinosaur Geopark Iron Gates Lunca Joasă a Prutului Inferior Lunca Mureșului Maramureș Mountains Mehedinți Plateau Geopark Putna-Vrancea Vânători-Neamț

Nature reserves

Bicaz Canyon Cehei Pond Cheile Turzii Izvorul Bigăr Lapiș Forest Letea Forest Mount Stogu Ostrovul Ciocănești Repedea Hill Fossil Site Mount Tâmpa

Bridges of the Danube

Upstream Smederevo Bridge Iron Gates Downstream Trajan's Bridge

v t e

Seven Wonders of Serbia

Seven Serbian Wonders of Construction

Belgrade
Belgrade
Fortress Šargan Eight Studenica Monastery Gamzigrad Visoki Dečani Cathedral of Saint Sava Subotica Town Hall

Seven Serbian Wonders of Nature

Drina
Drina
with spring Uvac Đavolja Varoš Tara National Park Iron Gates
Iron Gates
(Đerdap) Vratna Gates Fruška Gora

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 243006181 LCCN: sh85068192 GND: 4092445-2 SUDOC: 027849562 BNF:

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