The longest river in the European Union, the Danube River is the second-longest river in Europe after Russia’s Volga. It begins in the Black Forest region of Germany and runs through 10 countries (Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine) on its way to the Black Sea. Much older than the Rhine, its basin is thought to have been the site of some of the earliest human cultures, and it remains one of Europe’s most important and historic waterways and a popular river cruise destination.
Even before the expansion of the Roman Empire, the river was an important way to move cargo, like salt, furs and other goods, and passengers though the region. Centuries of use as a trade route prepared the way for today’s Danube River cruise. Today, in addition to navigation and transport, the Danube provides drinking water for about 10 million people. Danube cruise travelers will see not only a beautiful river but a working one as well.
One-third of the Danube’s total length is in Hungary; Hungary’s capital, Budapest, is often called “the Queen of the Danube.” From the water on a cruise, the city is particularly spectacular at night, with lights illuminating Budapest’s Chain Bridge, Parliament Building and other famous structures.
The waterway is also a major artery in Austria, with ports at Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Melk and Vienna. The river is quite scenic, featuring the Iron Gate, where it flows through a gorge that forms part of the boundary between Serbia and Romania, and the picturesque Wachau wine valley near Melk, Austria. The Wachau Valley is renowned not only for its natural beauty but also for its widely praised Riesling and Veltiner wines. Though ruggedly beautiful, the Iron Gate is naturally a very dangerous section of the Danube River to navigate. Its powerful rapids prevented Greek sailors in the seventh century B.C. from progressing further when sailing up from the Black Sea. The Iron Gate was made safe for a Danube River cruise with technologies such as a lock and dam system and barrage walls, but it is still gloriously scenic – vikingrivercruises
Helicopter flight starting from the Everest Summit Lodge in Monjo, through the Himalayas, past Mount Everest (with view of the basecamp) and back to the airport in Lukla.
The Danube River and the Iron Gates
This rock sculpture is of Decebalus, the last kind of Dacia. It is located along the Danube river along the border with Serbia.
In the heart of Rome stands a 38m tall column built in the 2 nd century A.D. Carved in low relief spiralling around the monument are over 2600 figures, representing the combatants of wars fought in a distant land. The column is known as Trajan’s Column, and its subject is the Dacian Wars. One of the most important figures on the column is Decebalus, the leader of the Dacians, otherwise known as King Decebal.
In one scene, he is shown committing suicide after being defeated by the Romans, preferring death over subjugation. Decebalus’ defeat and suicide marked the end of the Second Dacian War, and the absorption of Dacia into the Roman Empire. The spirit of Decebalus, however, did not die, and has been revived in recent years in Romania, which was once part of the Dacian Kingdom. This is most ostentatiously seen, perhaps, in the colossal rock sculpture of Decebalus’ head.
The project of sculpting the colossal head of Decebalus was the brainchild of a wealthy Romanian businessman, Iosif Constantin Drăgan. In 1985, Drăgan chose the rock to be sculpted, an outcrop 128m in height located in the area of Iron Gorge. Perhaps one of the reasons Drăgan chose this site was due to the fact that the Tabula Traiana, a memorial to the Roman conquest of Dacia, was located on the opposite side of the river.
The sculpture of Decebalus’ head is not merely a work of art by an ambitious businessman. There was another reason for Drăgan to commission this piece of work. Drăgan was an ardent proponent of the protochronism movement, a nationalistic ideology which viewed Romania as the cradle of civilization. Advocates of the protochronism movement believe that from Romania, civilization “reached as far as the Sumerian Lands, Egypt, Turkey and Greece, to the North it reached Scandinavia and to the west moved as far as the ancient regions of Germany and Britannia.” Thus, Decebalus is portrayed as a national hero and whose ancestors were the initiators of human civilisation. Naturally, supporters of the protochronism movement belief that present day Romanians are heir to this great legacy.