The Danube’s Hidden Treasures

The Danube is the second longest river in Europe, and its magnificent waters flow through ten of the most historical and influential countries in the world.

So, it’s no surprise that as it makes its way from its source high up in the German mountains, to its mouth in the Danube Delta, it flows past some spectacular hidden gems, some which are only accessible by boat.

So, join us on this adventure as we discuss some of the magnificent treasures that lie along the banks of the Danube.

Lajosmizse

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You don’t have to travel all the way to the Wild West to discover great plains.

That’s right, much closer to home lies the Hungarian Pustza – Hungary’s answer to one of America’s most notorious natural landscapes – and if you’re after a more traditional experience of Hungary, then we’d certainly recommend a visit.

The plains offer sights of glorious Hungarian countryside, including vistas of red paprika fields and thatched roof inns, and located amongst the scenery lies the small town of Lajosmizse.

Popular with tourists, many people visit Lajosmizse to see its famous traditional stud farm.

At the farm you can enjoy a tour of the grounds in a horse-drawn carriage, before watching a spectacular live Puszta horse show whilst you indulge in some delicious Hungarian delicacies.

So, if this sounds like it’s up your street, saddle up and visit Lajosmize!

Decebalus Head

Head sculpted in rock natural Parkshutterstock_1014118303

As you sail through the Iron Gates Gorge, which borders Serbia and Romania, you may get a strange sense as though you’re being watched…

…and that’s because, you are! Proudly watching over the waters of the Danube, stands the impressive Decebalus head. A 40-meter-high statue of the last king of Dacia, Decebalus.

Taking ten whole years to build, at first glimpse this structure seems truly ancient but in fact work only began on this impressive sculpture in 1994, and it was commissioned by Romanian business man losif Constantin Dragon.

Decebalus was one of the mightiest rulers of the ancient kingdom of Dacia and fought three wars against two Roman Emperors, before finally surrendering in 106CE.

So, it’s no wonder historian and businessman, Iosif, wanted a statue commissioned in homage to Decebalus. And surely there’s no better way to pay tribute to one of your historic heros, than by building the tallest rock sculpture in Europe in their honour.

A sight to see, it will take your breath away as you sail towards it.

Wachau Valley

Durnstein, Wachau valley. Austria. shutterstock_607840421.jpg

Physically formed by the Danube River itself, the Wachau Valley is an idyllic part of lower Austria.

Situated between the towns of Melk and Krems, it lends itself to a world of connoisseurs whom come to indulge in the regions delicious wines.

Recognised on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites back in the year 2000, this 40km long valley has more to offer than just fine wines, as it has been settled since prehistoric times.

Evidence of this was discovered in 1908, in the tiny village of Willendorf, when archaeologists found what turned out to be the oldest piece of art in Europe.

Dating back to almost 30,000 BCE it is a 4 inch high fertility statue depicting the body of a woman.

Another famous village set amongst the banks of the valley, is Dürnstein. The ruins of it’s castle we’re once home of Richard the Lionheart, but he wasn’t their on royal business.

Oh no, the English king was actually held prisoner here for 14 months, after his return from the third crusade was foiled by bad weather – fortunately he was eventually freed, but not until a huge ransom was paid out.

So if you’re a history buff, with a taste for fine wines, the Wachau Valley is for you.

Eisernes Tor (The iron Gates Gorge)

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Forming the boundary between Romania and Serbia, The Iron Gates Gorge, or Eisernes Tor as it is locally know, is quite possibly one of the most spectacular natural sights in the whole world.

The fjord like scenery stretches on for 83 miles, making it the longest string of gorges in Europe.

And not only will your breath be taken away by the natural wonders, as your cruise ship navigates the waters which are dominated by the Carpathian & Balkan mountains on either side, but you’ll also receive a history lesson like no other.

The area is literally steeped in history, with ancient ruins, artefacts and prehistoric settlements littering the river courses banks.

The famous Decebalus head is found here – at the Great Kazan Gorge, as well as the Tubula Traiana – a Roman carving commemorating the completion of Emporor Trajan’s military road in the 2nd century.

A sight that truly needs to be seen to be believed, there’s simply no other way to experience the Iron Gates Gorge than by river boat.

Melk

Melk - Famous Baroque Abbey (Stift Melk), Austria_25093107.jpg

Best know for it’s dominating Benedictine Abbey, the Austrian town of Melk sits proudly along the River Danube where the waters flow into the Wachau Valley.

The abbey itself is often the main reason many tourists come to this Austrian town and it’s not hard to see why. The impressive yellow structure looks more like a Renaissance palace than a monastery.

Originally founded in 1060 AD, the structure as we know it today was completed by architects Jakob Prandtauer and Joseph Munggenast, between the years of 1701 and 1736.

The most impressive aspect of this building is the library, which houses 16,000 volumes and is framed by it’s spectacular fresco.

But, the abbey is not all that Melk has to offer – it’s quaint old town is the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon stroll and a coffee after a busy day of exploring.

Esztergom

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46 kilometres northeast of Budapest, lies the Hungarian city of Esztergom.

Small in size, Esztergom is famous for being the seat of the Hungarian Catholic church, as well as Hungary’s first capital city, from the 10th until the 13th century.

St Stephen, the first Christian King, was also crowned here in AD 1000 at the site of the city’s basilica, the largest in the whole of the country.

Built in 1507 the unique building is constructed with red Hungarian marble and a trip up the tower offers breathtaking, 360 degree views over the town, the Danube and Slovakia.

In Esztergom you will also discover the Maria Valeria Bridge, which connects Hungary to Slovakia. It is one of the few country borders in the world which allows people to actually step over into another country.

It’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Budapest and is the perfect place to spend a sunny day in Hungary.

If you’d like to discover some of the Danube’s hidden treasures for yourself, join one of our River Cruises, for a  journey you will never forget.

 

 

 

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