The sprawling 1150-sq-km Iron Gates National Park (www.portiledefier.ro) lies to the west of Drobeta-Turnu Severin, below the town of Orşova. A similar protected area, the Djerdap National Park, sits across the river in Serbia. Visitors normally access the park from Orşova, 20km west of Drobeta-Turnu Severin. From Orşova, local Hwy 57 runs through the park, skirting the Danube for 130km to the town of Moldova Nouă. Boats offer pleasure cruises from the port at Orşova.
The park protects a diverse range of flora and fauna. Highlights of the park include a massive stone carving of the former Dacian leader, Decebal (r AD 87–106). You’ll see scattered reminders of ancient settlements that were submerged in the 1960s, during construction of the Porţile de Fier Hydroelectric Power Plant. One of the most famous of these was the island of Ada Kaleh, a Turkish enclave destroyed when the dam was built.