One of Europe
's natural wonders, the Iron Gate is a narrow gorge
on the Danube river
at the base of the Carpathian mountains
on the Yugoslavian
border. 2 miles long and 550 feet wide, the Iron Gate was the deepest gorge in Europe, with cliffs rising over 800 feet above the former rapids.
When Roman Emperor Trajan completed the Romanian road in the 1st century A.D. and finally gained control of what would become modern Romania, Trajan's Tablet was carved into the rock of the Iron Gate to commemorate the event, a billboard to the many travelers along the river.
Until recently, it was the most dangerous section of the Danube. If the rapids and the whirlpools didn't get you, the toll collectors that set up shop in the strategic narrows would. In the late 1800s, work began to remove obstructions
from the gorge. In 1896, the Sip canal opened, allowing large ships to bypass the rapids.
In 1971, the first Iron Gate dam was built in the gorge, drowning the rapids and turning the Iron Gate into a reservoir. In 1985, a second dam was commissioned, the two largest dams on the Danube.