Danube Virtual Museum

Trajan’s Plaque

Tabula Traiana / Via Traiana

The place where the Trajan’s Plaque / Tabula Traiana, or Trajan's relief with an inscription, is set serves as an example of just one of his many incredible construction endeavors. Tabula Triana was made to mark completion of construction of a river bank road and installations in the sector of the Lower Danube gorge / canyon 1900 years ago by the Roman emperor Nerva Trajan (Nerva Traianus Augustus).

This is the wildest part of Trajan's Danube Road - Via Traiana. Trajan’s Plaque is located today approximately ten kilometers upstream of Tekija, Roman Transdierne / Transdierna, in the same place at the exit / entrance to the canyons of the Lower Gorge, the narrowest and deepest part of the Danube.

The inscripted area of the relief - impressive overall dimensions of 8.2 x 3 .85 meters, is carved in a vertical smooth rock, with almost no viable natural bank. The six-line text written in Latin takes the centre of the relief and is framed with a rectangular border – a plaque known as tabula ansata (or, loosely translated, a board with handles / chances), size 3.40 x 1.75 metres. The plaque is held by two creatures with wings on the lateral sides, while above there are dolphins and below a kneeling figure of a bearded man, which, like the two last lines of the inscription has been erased. However, it has been recorded in the sources of researchers over the past centuries. There is an embossed protective overhang at the top of the relief, decorated with rosettes on the bottom, with an eagle, wings outstretched, in the center. A trace of red color, which was used to paint the relief, still remains in the hollows of the relief.

After the emperor's name and all titles, inscription states that the road was constructed by cutting in mountain cliffs and supporting with cantilevers (... montibus excisis, anconibus sublatis, viam (re) fecit).

It was first described and published 300 years ago (1690/1726, LFMarsigli). The inscription TABULA TRAIANA above Trajan’s relief was added more than a century ago, in 1891 while conducting protective measures for the first time by the Government of Serbia.

In 1969, as part of the Đerdap Project, Trajan's relief with inscription / Traiana Tabula was raised for 20-25 metres to be protected from flooding. It was placed right above the original site by cutting and fixing the entire block of old deposits – a stone monolith with an inscription and a part of the road weighing about 300 tons. Two lateral pylons, still partly blocking it, have not been removed yet.
Unfortunately, due to the configuration of the coast, Trajan’s Plaque is not accessible by land.

The original appearance of this remarkable monument and its archival footage can be seen in a photo-panel exhibition, in the small hall of the Archaeological Museum of Đerdap in Kladovo.


Ј. (Rаnkоv) Kоndić (text in prepress); P. Pеtrоvić, Rimski put u Đеrdаpu, Stаrinаr 37 (1986), 41-52; P. Petrović, Die Römische StraSe in Djerdap: Ein rekonstruktionsdersuch, Akten Limes 14 Carnuntum (1990); M. Mirković, The Iron Gates (Đerdap) and the Roman Policy on the Moesian Limes AD 33-117, 27-40 u CPF The Roman Limes on the Middle and the Lower Danube, 1996; M. Mirković, Moesia Superior Eine Provinz an der mittleren Donau, Orbis Provinciarum, Mainz 2007, with provided literature.

(Text: National Museum in Belgrade – Archaeological Museum Đerdap)