Giurgiu is located in the south of Romania, in the Greater Wallachia region of the country on the banks of the Danube River. It faces the Bulgarian city of Russe, which sits on the opposite bank of the Danube from it. If you book a river cruise which explores the Danube, specifically the section of it which passes through Eastern Europe before it reaches the Black Sea, then it’s likely you’ll stop at Giurgiu. The city is the port which serves Romania’s historic capital Bucharest and traditionally the first or last port of call you’ll visit on your journey, depending on which direction you travel. Giurgiu dates back to the first century BC and the time of the Dacians, who first populated the area, though did not become a city port until the 14th century, when Genoese merchants established it, naming it after their country’s patron saint, George.
Though Giurgui acts as the gateway to Romania’s capital Bucharest for many, if you don’t fancy taking the trip to the capital during your time in port, it does hold a number of attractions of its own.
Perhaps the city’s most well-known landmark is the Danube Bridge, also known as the Friendship Bridge, which is one of only two bridges which links Romania with Bulgaria. The two-deck structure, which opened in 1954, was at the time the only bridge over the Danube linking both countries and today accommodates train and motor traffic as well as pedestrians. It’s always satisfying and not to mention a great photo opportunity to catch sight of boundary signs on your travels and the bridge is no exception, having both ‘Romania’ and ‘Bulgaria’ notifications at either end of the bridge. It was after the fall of Communism that the crossing took the more practical name of the Danube Bridge, though it’s still referred to as the Friendship Bridge by many.
Other notable sites in the town include the beautiful Turnul Ceasornicului, or Clock Tower, which dates back to the 1700s, the Greek-style Atheneum building and the ruins of the 14th century Giurgiu Fortress. This structure is the oldest in the area and though it wasn’t officially documented until the 1400s, it was used by the occupying Roman Empire as a garrison outpost and later used to defend the town against Ottoman invasion. Little remains of the fortress now, though much of its foundations and partial walls can still be seen.
If you have visited Bucharest before and are just looking for a different experience while in port, you can actually visit two countries in one day, as the aforementioned Friendship Bridge connects Giurgiu with the Bulgarian town of Ruse.