The landscape of Zelezni Vrata Nature Park is distinguished by its geological and biological diversity. The narrowest part of the Danube’s gorge crosses the park, offering the opportunity to discover an impressive karst relief, represented by rock formations eroded by flowing water, valleys, caves, holes, and endemic plant and flower species such as the Kazanite tulip, the Banat horn, and the Kazanite bellflowers.
The Veterani Cave with access only through the Danube and the Ponikova Cave, besides the attractive speleological forms, also hosts bat species included in the Republican Red List. Among big mammals, the bear and the wild boar are most common. The fish population consists mainly of common nase, flathead grey mullet, barbel, European hake, asp, and the common zingel; the only sturgeon fish left is the sterlet. The representative Eastern Mediterranean and Mediterranean reptiles are the Hermani frog, the viper and the lizard. Some of the interesting birds species are the pygmy cormorant, the great cormorant, the grey heron, the little egret, the Eurasian teal, the pintail, the common pochard, the tufted duck, the smew, or the Eurasian coot.
Religious tourism is practiced here thanks to the numerous religious sites such as the Voditsa Monastery in Varciorova or the Mraconia Monastery in Dubova. The rock sculpture of Decebalus is the largest creation of that kind in Europe and similar to the Presidents’ faces of Mount Rushmore. The Zelezni Vrata Hydroelectric Power Plant Museum presents the history of the dam covering the rocks that made it almost impossible to cross the gorge and gave the name – Zelezni Vrata (Iron Gate).
The park has 16 designated, marked and equipped routes and 4 theme trails. We recommend familiarizing with the park at the Visitor Center in Orsova or at the Information and Documentation Center in Drobeta-Turnu Severin.
Site conservation status – IUCN Category V: Protected Landscape/Seascape – Nature Park.
Manager: National Forestry Board Romsilva – Administration of Zelezni Vrata Nature Park P.A. (Municipal Enterprise).
Ecosystems: boreal deciduous forests (60%), coniferous forests, shrubs and sub-Mediterranean shrubs, pastures (10%), rocks, aquatic, wetlands, agricultural ecosystems.
Predominant classes of natural habitats: freshwater (3130, 3140, 3150), pastures and shrubs (6110, 6210), rocks and caves (8120, 8210, 8230, 8240, 8310), forests (9110, 9150, 9160, 91E0, 91G0, 91H0, 92A0, 9280). 70 protected habitats on the red list.
Protected species: 116 flora species, 31 invertebrate species, 43 mammal species, 205 bird species.
Accessibility: good, through Drobeta-Turnu Severin and Orsova (DN57, DN6)
Accommodation options: good (26 accommodations in Drobeta-Turnu Severin and 6 in Orsova, 12 in Eselnita)
Tourist flow: 73,052 tourists/year in the adjoining settlements
Entertainment activities: mountain tourism – hiking, scientific, religious, horseback riding, Danube cruises, birdwatching, sport fishing, traditional holidays and celebrations, cycling and mountain biking.
Restrictions/natural hazards: –
Connection to other protected natural areas in the area of the study: ROSPA0026 Danube stream – Bazias – Zelezni Vrata, ROSCI0206 Almajului Mountains-Locvei, ROSCI0206 Zelezni Vrata.