This 40-meter-tall bearded stone face overlooking the Danube River looks like something straight from Middle Earth. In reality, it’s the recent creation of a Romanian businessman.
Decebal (Decebalus the Brave One) was the last king of Dacia. He was also one of the mightiest rulers of this ancient kingdom. After reuniting fragmented Dacian tribes, he fought three wars against two Roman emperors before finally succumbing to the power of Rome in 106 CE.
The national identity of modern Romania is still firmly rooted in its ancient Dacian heritage. This monumental stone portrait of Decebal is the brainchild of Iosif Constantin Dragan, a businessman and historian. It’s situated on the Romanian side of Danube, right opposite the Tabula Traiana, a memorial to the Roman conquest of Dacia. At 40 meters, it is is the tallest rock sculpture in Europe and took 10 years (from 1994 to 2004) for a team of 12 sculptors to complete.
Inscription on the statue is, somewhat ironically, written in Latin—the language introduced to Romania by Decebal’s enemies. It reads “DECEBALUS REX - DRAGAN FECIT” (“King Decebal - Made by Dragan”).