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Comana Lake, Giurgiu, Romania

Two maiden calls highlight new lower Danube River voyage

A preview of Crystal River Cruises’ 2022 itineraries was unveiled this week, sparking visions of quaint medieval villages amidst rolling hills and vineyards in the minds of history buffs and romantics around the world. These lovely destinations are, of course, featured in abundance on the voyages along the Danube and Rhine rivers (think Rüdesheim, Strasbourg and Linz), as well as plenty of iconic sites of art, music and history like Vienna, Budapest, Amsterdam and Cologne. There are also two brand new cities to explore.

Giurgiu, Romania and Vidin, Bulgaria are featured on a new seven-night “Treasures of Southeast Europe” lower Danube River voyage, which also calls in Budapest and Mohács, Hungary; Vukovar, Croatia; Belgrade, Serbia; Novi Sad, Serbia (on the eastbound route); and transits the Iron Gates. Before you set sail on this itinerary brimming with paragons of power and tales of triumph, we’re sharing an introduction to the newest of less explored locales.

This Southern Romanian town along the left (north) bank of the Danube is a survivor. Its beginnings somewhat a mystery, Giurgiu has endured conquests and attacks, a pawn in many greater conflicts involving Turks, Ottomans and Russians since the 14th century; a large part of the city was destroyed during World War I. Today, it’s conflict free and a fascinating gateway port city to nearby Bucharest, just 40 miles to the south; Ruse, Bulgaria just across the Danube Bridge; and lovely Comana Lake, a delightful spot for visitors. This bridge was built in the 1950’s by then Soviet state and dubbed the “Friendship Bridge,” as the only bridge at the time that connected Romania and Bulgaria. Traveling along the road to Bucharest, you’ll find monuments to Mihai the Brave, who defeated the Ottoman army in the 16th century.

In Giurgiu itself though, don’t miss the 72-foot, 18th-century Clock Tower, a nod to the time of Ottoman rule here, and the “Teohari Antonescu” County Museum, which houses a collection of artifacts that help piece together the historic tapestry of this pivotal port city.

The remarkably preserved Baba Vida Fortress stands on the waterfront of Vidin, Bulgaria

Nestled on a bend of the Danube in northwestern Bulgaria, the ancient city of Vidin is an eclectic mix of architectural styles reflecting its rich history. This hub of agriculture and trade sits atop a 3rd-century BC Celtic settlement that eventually became part of the Roman and Ottoman empires. Also prevalent in the town, particularly in the town square of pl Bdintsi, are vestiges of Soviet days, with enormous building, monuments, banks and storefronts offering a throwback glimpse into that complex era.

Throughout Vidin, you’ll find evidence and homages to another important time of rule: the Ottoman Empire. The well-preserved Ottoman fortress Kaleto is worth a visit, as are the mosque and library of separatist leader Osman Pazvantoğlu, who fought to undermine the Ottomans.

The one structure, however, that stands most proudly among them all is the 10th-century Baba Vida Fortress, Bulgaria’s oldest standing castle and a breathtakingly imposing sight. It is impressively preserved – moat, draw bridge and all – and a must-see highlight of your visit to Vidin.

The “Treasures of Southeast Europe” lower Danube River voyage and all other Crystal River Cruises 2022 itineraries will be open for booking January 22, 2020. Plan your exploration of these Danube wonders now!

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