Owen, Oliver and I on our triumphant return from climbing one of the ten towers of Golubac Castle. This is a 700 year+ castle located near the village of Golubac, Serbia on the banks of the Danube River. It is the start of the Đerdap National Park and one of the most beautiful places in Serbia.
The fortress is an amazing place! If the castle was in a western European nation, the place would be tightly controlled, with safety nets installed, an interpretive center built, etc. In Serbia, it is completely abandoned. There was one guy selling souvenirs near the castle, but they had nothing to do with the castle. There were no interpretive guides or accompanying museum. Basically, it is an old fort that we were free to explore. I took the boys and we climbed to one of the upper towers. The guys absolutely loved it! There was a slight trail leading up and we scrambled over the rocks and bushes to get to the base of a tower where a ladder hung down. We then climbed the ladder to get to the top. From there the trail wound around to another tower, but with a 6 and 4 year old, I thought it a bit too risky to go on.
I told the story about the castle to the boys. The fortress exchanged hands many times since it was built in the 1300’s. As with most castles, it is in a strategic position. The Danube narrows at this point so from the fort, one can control the flow of traffic down the Danube (Dunav in Serbian). The place was the scene of many battles between the Hungarians, Ottomans, and Serbians.
You can see the slight trail to the right of our car. It moves from right to left above the vehicle. There were two guys fishing from one of the flooded towers. A dam was built in the 1970’s that flooded the lower parts of the castle, and a road was built through the portcullis (seen just left of our car). A couple of cars stopped while we were there, but no one bothered to climb up. I thought the challenge and managing risk of the climb very good for the boys. I want to instil in the boys a sense of adventure and an enthusiasm for getting out into life and doing things. We will definitely return here, as the fortress is just an 1 and a half from our home in Belgrade.
The trip can be combined with a visit to the archeological site Lepenski Vir. Remains of an 7000 year old village were found with some fish-lipped statues. Unfortunately, the museum where they are housed was closed for reconstruction and we weren’t able to see it. We stayed at the Silver Lake Hotel which I will blog about later.
The trip gave me a greater appreciation for the Danube and the freedom of Serbia. What an opportunity to be able to scramble over an abandoned castle, just like explorers coming to it the first time. There were lots that we didn’t get to see and it begs a return visit. I would love to lead an reconstruction and excavation of the site. It would also be nice to make an accompanying web site with pictures and stories of the long history of the place.
The Danube compares to the Mississippi and I see why people have gone down its entire length. The river and its tributaries go through the heart of central Europe. The wildlife, views, and fresh water are something to be cherished.