Djerdap National Park
Nature Protection Institute of Serbia
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The Djerdap National Park embraces part of the area of the Djerdap Canyon known as the Iron Gates in the central part of the Danube river course,and is divided by the international border running along the middle of the river into the southern - Yugoslav and the northern - Rumanian part. The total area of the National Park is 63.600 ha and the protection zone consists of another 93.968 ha.The morphological characteristics of the region which are the main source of attraction and constitute a natural phenomenon are determined by the 100 km. long Djerdap canyon forged by the Danube - the second largest river in Europe which flows through or forms the natural frontier of eight states. The morphological variety of the region is enhanced by the existence of a large number of gorge-like valleys formed by the Danube's tributaries, karst reliefs on limestone plateaus and other phenomena. The geological history of this region is complex and interesting. There are locations where the succession of various geological periods over a span of tens of millions of years can clearly be traced.The Djerdap Canyon is the longest fissure in Europe and a rare natural phenomenon. There are sections where the vertical cliffs rise 300m above the level of the Danube and the measured depth of the so-called "cauldrons" goes up to 82 m. Thanks to the sheltered position of the Iron Gates more than 60 forest and shrub communities heve been preserved many of which are relics of previous, tertiary forest communities. Numerous plant varieties can be found including tertiary relicts and species whose range in Europe has been significantly reduced. More than 1000 plant varieties have been re~ stered in the Djerdap region which confirms its enormous significance in the taxonomic and ecological sense. It is important to note the presence of Corylus colurna, Acer intermedium, Celtis australis, Ilex aquifolium, ceterach officinarum, etc. Rare animal and bind species can also be found in the National Park including bear, lynx, wolf, jackal, gray eagle, short-eored owl, black stork etc. Testifyins to the importance of the Iron Gates section of the Danube in the past are traces of mants presence and the development of his material and spiritual culture from earliest times to the present. The three oldest archaeological localities i.e. Vlasac, Padina and, certainly the most significant internationally, Lepenski Vir, were formed and developed from 7000 - 5000 B.C. Lepenski Vir was the permanent abode of hunters and the religious and artistic centre to which the "first monumental works of art of Central and South-Eastern Europe can be traced as well as the oldest forms of organized social, economic and religious life in the Danube river basin". The discovery of this site marked a new chapter in the study of European pre-history. Lepenski Vir is an impressive illustration of the link between man and nature, of the role and significance of the natural environment for husbandry and the organization of life and culture in general. The Roman Emperors Tiberios, Claudius, Domitian and Trajan cut a strategic road through the Djerdap Canyon and built bridges and fortifications along it in the period of 1st-2nd century A.D. remains of which still stand. The medieval fortresses which defended the entrance into and passage through the Canyon, the most important of which are Golubac and Fetislam from the Turkish period, also testify to constant clashes of various cultures and civilizations in these parts.In the early Middle Ages this region belonged to Byzantium ,then came Slav settlers, it was conquered by Bulgarian tribes and it changed hands repeatedly between the Hungars, Serbs and Turks. In spite of such a turbulent history, picturesque folk customs and traditional village life have been preserved as evidence of uninterrupted life in this region from pagan times to the present day.