It really is a misnomer to say that this day was in Donji Milanovac, because our two excursions were not in the town. Our first stop early in the morning was at the Gulubac Fortress. That fortress is about 1 hour drive from the city of Donji Milanovac. This area is the beginning of the Iron Gates section of the Danube which is now essentially a lake due to the building of a hydroelectric dam completed in the 1972. Prior to the building of the dam and its locks, this area was one of the most difficult for river ships to navigate.
The building of the dam allowed river ships to easily move from upper Danube to the lower Danube, but also flooded many villages and raised water levels along the river.
The ships can dock right at Gulubac fortress and our local tour guide met us riverside to start the tour of this fortress. This fortress was never conquered by force, it only changed hands through treaty and payments.
After our morning visit to the fortress we had about 2 hours of scenic sailing until we reach Donji Milanovic. During that time we bundled up and sat out on the top deck and enjoyed lunch in the dining room. We also sailed by the next place we would tour Lipinski Vir.
Lipinski Vir, the oldest know permanent human settlement in Europe, pre-dates the agricultural villages of Mesopotamia by thousands of years. The archeological site, which was found and excavated during the building of the dam, was located along the now flooded banks of the Danube. It is the most important find, telling the story of the first humans that had permanent settlements in Europe. The site was occupied by the same people for 4000 years. They at a diet of mostly Sturgeon which are rich in protein and amino acids, and they developed very large brains, created tools out of stone and bone, and even created art. The fact that these people occupied the area permanently for over 4000 years might be the most remarkable aspect. The original sight was located under the now flooded part of the river, but the archeologists were able to move the site to this location above the river level for people to visit and learn about this remarkable civilization.
We had a bit of hiccup in our schedule this day. The Serbian immigration officers were late in coming to our ship. That made our departure a bout 2 hours later than scheduled. We were now going to sail through the Iron Gates at night, which at first we thought would be disappointing, however it turned into a wonderful experience as the key sights, mainly the large rock sculpture and the fortress church were well illuminated at night. The highlight was the rock sculpture of Decebalus . We passed a Romanian lake resort town and it looked like they even offered evening sight seeing cruises in this area. Later we passed through the double locks at the hydro-electric dam.