Giurgiu Harbor, situated between kilometer 489 and 497 on the Danube River, was designed at the end of the 19th century by engineer Anghel Saligny. It was from this very harbor that Bulgarian revolutionary Hristo Botev boarded the ship named Radetzky and it was also here that the travels through the literary-artistic world of Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu began.
Photo credit: (c) Simion MECHNO / AGERPRES ARCHIVE
The first historical mentions of Giurgiu Harbor appeared in the 16th century. It was initially a strategic point of defence for freight and borders, a point of export for grains to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, it then developed as a fair and a cultural center. Currently it is one of the main Danube harbors of the country. The river ensures that Giurgiu Harbor is connected with the eight riparian countries in Europe, but it is also a linchpin for the traffic destined for Balkan countries and the Middle East. It is one of the Danube harbors that allows the mooring of river cruise ships and for that reason it is visited by many tourists on holiday.
“In the first ten months of 2014, 403 cruise ships have moored in Giurgiu Harbor, carrying 23,382 passengers and operations were executed for 376,233 tons of freight”, said, for AGERPRES, General Deputy Director of the Danube River Harbor Administration (APDF) Giurgiu Danut Ofiteru.
The tourists first setting foot in Giurgiu Harbor are greeted on the bank by the harbor authority building, spanning over 1,000 square meters, with an architecture that is reminiscent of a ship’s design, the frontispiece carrying a commemorative marble plaque reminding of the fact that on May 16, 1876, great Bulgarian revolutionary poet Hristo Botev boarded the Radetzky from this harbor.
In 1905, when Giurgiu Harbor was inaugurated, the harbor’s building comprised of a waiting hall, administrative spaces for port authorities, warehouses and repositories for grain and other freight. In 1869 the first railway in Romania was built, between Bucharest and Giurgiu, reaching as far as the harbor. Giurgiu thus became the first harbor in Romania to be directly connected by rail to the capital. It was from here that the exports containing raw salt brought from Prahova county were sent off and it was also here, in this port, that the pipeline for the petroleum brought straight from the refineries in Ploiesti ended. In World War II, the Americans tried to destroy the supply lines of the Germans with which Romania was allied at the time. As a consequence, the petroleum terminal in Giurgiu underwent heavy bombardment. The harbor was reoperationalized during the communist era and now the authorities want to modernize and increase its capacity by accessing European funds.
“We are at the stage of submitting a feasibility study for the construction of a tri-modal harbor through which new capacities for freight will be constructed, as well as links to the rail and road networks”, said APDF Deputy Director, Danut Ofiteru.
Several hundred meters from the harbor, inwards toward the city, lies the first curved bridge of Europe. Bizetz Bridge, inaugurated in 1905, to connect the city of Giurgiu to Ramadan Harbor, with access over the St. George channel, is an architectural masterpiece designed by engineer Anghel Saligny and Ion Ionescu-Bizetz. The bridge was constructed for a dual purpose, both road and rail traffic crossing the bridge and, at the date of its construction, it was a technical first of Europe. The curved shape of the bridge was determined by the shape and resistance of the land that was in an easily floodable area. The bridge became a historical monument and is currently open only to pedestrian traffic, as its condition no longer provided safe conditions for other means of transportation. Beside it lies a new bridge, constructed between 2005-2007 that links to National Road 5 (DN5) Giurgiu-Bucharest.
At one point, the harbor also had a beach, from where the Danube could be admired and it was there that poet Mihai Eminescu probably gazed upon it at one point. From the writings of the times we have come to know that, around 1866-1867, Iorgu Caragiale would put on plays with his theater company in Giurgiu and due to his lack of a prompter, he left for the harbor to see if he can find one. In the harbor he found a person who could read, “a porter, but he wasn’t carrying grain; on his legs he had some pants made of blue denim, and on his body only a short jacket of ordinary material. He had no shirt and no socks”. This was Mihai Eminescu, now heralded Romania’s national poet, and it was Iorgu Caragiale who took him in as a prompter and when finishing their representations in Giurgiu left together with him to Bucharest, where Eminescu was hired as a prompter for the National Theater and started writing poetry.AGERPRES