I was looking forward to the visit of the city of Drobeta-Turnu Severin (or Severin for short). I do not know whether it is the Danube on which it lies or Serbia, which is on the opposite side of the river. By the way, I also have put Serbia on my list of travel destinations. At university, I spent one semester tourism marketing and management of this country.
In Drobeta we were supposed to have the warmest weather from our entire holiday. There should have been an incredible 15! degrees. Actually, there were those 15 degrees, but there was such an incredible wind blowing in the city that we didn’t enjoy the „warm“ weather so much.
How to get to Drobeta-Turnu Severin?
Drobeta-Turnu Severin is located in western Wallachia, Oltenia region, in southwestern Romania, administratively in Mehedinți County.
Severin lies at the crossroads of national roads DN6 and DN67. The national road DN6, which is also part of the European road E70, leads on the route Bucharest – Craiova – Drobeta-Turnu Severin – Timișoara. The DN67 national road leads from Drobeta-Turnu Severin via Târgu Jiu to Râmnicu Vâlcea.
If you travel to Drobeta by bus, you can get off at the bus station, or one of the following stops:
- Main bus station (Autogara Transport Public Urban Drobeta SA) – 2 km / 23 minutes walk east of the city center and 3 km / 38 minutes walk northeast of the railway station.
- Agentia ,,Drobeta,,Dr. Tr. Sev. – at the main bus station,
- Parcare Interex – at the main bus station,
- Generala nr. 2 (also known as B-dul Tudor Vladimirescu) – 2 km / 25 minutes walk west of the bus station and 280 m / 4 minutes walk north of the Water Tower, ie closest to the center.
The bus journey from Târgu Jiu took 2 hours 15 minutes and the ticket cost 24 lei / 4.96 eur / person.
The railway station (Gara Drobeta-Turnu Severin) is located 1.2 km / 15 minutes walk southwest of the city center.
Where to get information in Drobeta-Turnu Severin?
The Tourist Information Center is just a few steps walk north of the medieval fortress of Severin.
What to do, see and visit in Drobeta-Turnu Severin?
Severin‚s primary offer is somewhat richer, perhaps more attractive than in other cities in western Wallachia. In the city you will find the Iron Gates Region Museum, the Medieval Fortress of Severin and the Water Tower.
Iron Gates Region Museum
Iron Gates Region Museum (Muzeul Regiunii Porților de Fier) exhibits its collections in several buildings – the Multifunctional Pavilion, the Archaeological Park and the Turbine Museum in Gura Văii.
The Multifunctional Pavilion (Pavilionul Multifuncțional – Muzeul Regiunii Porților De Fier; 1.3 km / 16 minutes walk east of the center) is the main building of the museum. A book guide attracted us to the aquarium with fish from the Danube in addition to historical, archaeological or ethnographic collections. In the end, we didn’t see any of it. The museum is currently closed due to reconstruction and offers only 4 short-term exhibitions:
- traditional housing in the Mehedinți region – a selection from ethnographic collections
- paintings „Dumitru Ghiață“ – a selection of 46 paintings from the collections of the Museum of Art,
- Roman cuisine – a selection of historical and archaeological collections,
- stuffed birds – a selection of natural science collections.
Admission is 4 lei / 0.83 eur / person.
The Archaeological Park (Parcul Arheologic – Muzeul Regiunii Porților De Fier) is located directly at the Multifunctional Pavilion. The remains of a Roman camp, Trajan’s Bridge, a Roman amphitheater, a Roman bath and a medieval church were found in the park.
The fortress was the first Roman camp in the territory of Dacia and served to defend the Trajan’s Bridge. Apollodorus of Damascus had built a bridge over the Danube on the orders of Emperor Trajan as early as 102-105 AD. It was the largest bridge in antiquity, connecting two Roman provinces – Dacia (north of the Danube) and Moesia (south of the Danube). Two basic foothills have been preserved from the bridge, one on the Romanian side and one on the Serbian side.
The rest of the Trajan’s bridge is forever buried at the bottom of the Danube, which rose in these places by 8-10 m after the construction of a hydroelectric power plant. The bridge is even depicted on Trajan’s Column in Rome. The amphitheater was used to train Roman legionaries. After training, they could recover in a nearby spa. You walk through the park yourself. There are information boards in Romanian and English throughout the complex. Admission is 10 lei / 2.07 eur / person.
Turbine Museum in Gura Văii
The Turbine Museum in Gura Văii (Muzeul Turbinelor de la Gura Văii; 12 km / 14 minutes by car northwest of the city center) is located in the Iron Gates hydroelectric power plant in the village of Gura Văii, managed by Drobeta. In addition to the permanent historical and archaeological exposition, it also offers visitors temporary exhibitions from ethnographic, natural history collections and a turbine hall. Thanks to the absent bus from Târgu Jiu and reviews on the Internet, we finally missed the tour of the museum and preferred the attractions in the city. Admission is 10 lei / 2.07 eur / person.
Sailing in these places on the Danube was still dangerous. The river wound through the gorge between the rocks and, in addition, swirls formed in it. In the second half of the 20th century, Romania agreed with Yugoslavia (now Serbia) to build a hydroelectric power plant. It was established in the years 1960-1972 and is the largest dam power plant on the Danube and one of the largest in Europe. Its construction caused the river level to rise by 33 m, flooding 10 places on the Romanian and 7 places on the Serbian coast, including the historic part of Orșova and the Turkish island of Ada Kaleh.
The medieval fortress of Severin
The medieval fortress of Severin (Cetatea Medievală a Severinului; 650 m / 8 minutes walk south of the center) is probably the first stone fortress in Romania. The fortress was built by the king Ladislaus I of Hungary at the end of the 11th century for defense in case of attacks by Kumani and Pechenegs. It later protected from the Turkish invasion. After conquering the fortress, the Turks ordered its demolition. At present, you can walk along its walls for free.
The Water Tower (Castelul de Apă; 350 m / 5 minutes walk north of the center) was built in 1910. Its main function was to supply the city of Severin with water. It was inaugurated four years later and served its mission until 1980. During World War I served as an observatory for German soldiers. The tower is 27 m high.
From the tower there is a view of the regular network of city streets, the Danube and the opposite Serbia. There is a different short-term exhibition on each floor of the tower. On the top floor it was an exhibition of historical photographs of old Drobeta, on other floors an exhibition dedicated to the Serbian town of Negotin and works of art school students. On the ground floor there is a souvenir shop and was an exhibition of photographs of regional churches and monasteries. Admission is 10 lei / 2.07 eur / person.
Where to stay in Drobeta-Turnu Severin?
Mon Cheri guest house is located 900 m / 11 minutes walk northwest of the city center; 1.3 km / 17 minutes walk north of the train station and 2.2 km / 30 minutes walk west of the bus station.
We stayed in a double room with a balcony and a view of the main road with a private bathroom with shower. The room was furnished with older furniture, but I guess I slept here on the best mattress in the whole of Oltenia. The room smelled a bit, but we have become accustomed in Romania. Good English-speaking receptionist, but only Romanian-speaking waitress. Breakfast is also served at the guest house. It is not included in the price of accommodation. The waitress, who was probably also a cook, prepared a tasty omelette for us.
For one double room for 1 night for 2 people we paid 130 lei / 26.88 eur. The price includes room, 5% value added tax, 1% city tax. You can pay at the guest house by card. The price does not include breakfast. For breakfast for 2 people we paid 29 ron / 6 eur. It is not necessary to book a space in the free public car park, which is available on site. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the guest house.
Where to eat in Drobeta-Turnu Severin?
We tried 2 restaurants and one café in the city.
Restaurant & Lounge 16,50
Restaurant & Lounge 16.50 (400 m / 5 minutes walk west of the center) is a luxurious-looking restaurant almost in the city center. We were probably the first guests to come to dinner that day. In some rooms it was not even lit. It was in one, but waiters were sitting and smoking there (again the cigarette smoke). The smoke was smelled a bit in the room where we were eating. We didn’t let ourselves be discouraged, even though I thought we’d get up and go somewhere else. In the end, it was the restaurant where we ate the best. Again, only Romanian-speaking staff. I tasted the specialty of the house, Chicken wok (chicken breast, pepper, eggplant, pumpkin, garlic, sweet chili sauce, basmati rice).
We also tasted dessert. We were very pleased to see the traditional Romanian dessert Papanași (something like Slovak doughnuts) in the menu, which is usually served here with sweet cream and blueberries. After dinner we went for a walk along the Danube embankment. Unfortunately, the waterfront is not arranged in the same way as in other cities in Romania. But the city and its sights are illuminated nicely at night. We paid 150 lei / 31.02 eur for dinner for 2 people.
The restaurant where we wanted to eat lunch the next day was closed. We therefore went to the nearest restaurant (Rustic; 260 m / 3 minutes walk southwest of the center) in the area. Based on personal experience, I can evaluate that the restaurant is true to its name. After entering, I felt like I had moved back in time a few decades. Large unwashed windows (those windows were probably washed, only the glass could be so old that it was not really visible through it), everywhere full of large green dusty plants, long wooden tables, quasi-wooden roofs with folk motifs above the tables, older, only Romanian speaking lady waitress and lunch price for 2 people lower than for two coffees elsewhere in the city.
We tasted the daily menu: vegetable soup and broth (it was the same vegetable soup, they just put sliced chicken in it). The main course was a slice of pork and a slice of chicken. The oil on which the meat was prepared, I guess, remembered the socialist era. We could choose potatoes in any way as a side dish. I’m glad waitress picked fries for us. Of course, dessert can’t be missed after the main course. This was followed by popular pancakes. I probably wouldn’t go back to the restaurant for the food, but for the experience, or perhaps even better the feeling. We paid 40 lei / 8.27 eur for lunch for 2 people.
Ada Kaleh Café
The Turkish Ada Kaleh café is located right in the city center. We ordered an original Turkish coffee (not poured, but prepared in cezve and sand!) with baklava. I was a little sorry that if it weren’t for the unique environment, I would get the feeling that I was just in any other café in Romania. We paid 42 lei / 8.69 eur for a bill for 2 people.
I can’t say that Drobeta-Turnu Severin did not meet my expectations. It is possible I probably just idealized the city just before I arrived. I am convinced that during the summer, when it is nice, the city has a completely different atmosphere. I don’t want to exaggerate, maybe seaside, but there are definitely terraces everywhere and full of people and warm and fragrant. But I’m idealizing it again.
Prices were converted according to the current exchange rate of the National Bank of Slovakia valid as of March 24, 2020 (1 eur = 4.8357 lei).
I did not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage of the services provided by tourism businesses, institutions and organizations.
© Ing. Adam Vanečko