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Home to one of the best-preserved wildlife reserves of Europe, the Danube Delta, Dobrogea is Romania‘s smallest region and yet one of its richest. With a unique mix of Romanians, Turks, Tatars, Lipovans, Greeks and Ukrainians, it boasts a multicultural heritage that makes it truly special. Here’s everything you need to know.
Dobrogea’s multicultural heritage is displayed in its monuments, customs, language and gastronomy. West of the Black Sea, the region features 245 kilometres (152 miles) of sandy coast and the biggest port in the country, located in Constanța. Brimming with traditional fishermen villages, antique citadels and amazing natural landscapes, it is a region filled with wonders.
The biggest port in the Black Sea’s basin and a vivid city alike, Constanța is one of the main attractions at the Black Sea and the departure point for all the seaside resorts. In summer, the city is animated by the waves of tourists that come to admire the Casino, an Art Nouveau jewel and symbol of the city, to wander on the seafront or to visit the Natural Sciences Museum, comprising an aquarium, a planetarium, a dolphinarium and an astronomical observatory. The Romanian Navy Museum is another must-see, where visitors can admire reproductions of all types of ships, weapons and boats.
What may be surprising for other regions of Romania, but common for Dobrogea, are the mosques, temples of the Turks and Tatars populations of the region. Constanta’s Carol I Mosque was built in 1910 in a Mauresque style and boasts a 200 year-old oriental carpet.
Last but not least are the music festivals that are synonymous with Constanța. In 2017, the first edition of the Neversea Festival brought famous DJs to Constanta’s beach for three days of crazy parties.
The departure point for those who want to explore the Danube Delta, Tulcea is home to a varied heritage just waiting to be discovered. Its highlights are the Danube Delta Eco Tourism Museum, hosting the biggest aquarium in Romania and the Ethnography and Folk Art Museum, exhibiting the multiculturality of the area through traditional objects and clothes specific to Dobrogea’s population. For those who prefer to take a relaxing walk, the Ciuperca Lake and the surrounding park are the ideal spots.
One of the oldest cities in the country and a former Greek settlement, Mangalia is placed just at the sea border, and is a touristic port filled with restaurants and terraces populated by beautiful swans. History lovers should not miss the archaeological site of the ancient Greek Settlement of Callatis and the Esmahan Sultan Moschee, a 16th-century temple, the oldest of its kind in Romania. For those who consider a walk on the seashore to be too mainstream, Herghelia Mangalia offers the opportunity to ride a horse instead.
A strip of fine-sand beaches welcomes sun worshippers every year, filling the seaside resorts of the Black Sea. Among the most popular is Mamaia, a place of leisure and fun, brimming with fancy beaches and nightclubs. The little ones can get their dose of fun at the Aqua Magic Water Park which offers plenty of water slides, swimming pools, water drops and all-day entertainment.
If you are more the party-until-the-morning type, the Costinești is made for you, a place for lively young things who love to dance all night long and relax on the beach during the day.
For hipsters who love beautiful sunrises and don’t mind sleeping in a tent, Vama Veche is the place to be. With rustic architecture and an old-school spirit, Vama Veche is the place to make friends, dance on the beach till sunrise, jump in the cold morning water of the sea and lay on the beach in the afternoon.
However, if you want a quiet time at the seaside, Gura Portitei is one of the hidden gems of the Black Sea, where you can lay back and enjoy the sound of the sea.
The Danube Delta
Reachable only by water, the Danube Delta is a paradise for birdwatchers and photographs. Floating reed islands, sand dunes and meandering channels shelter more than 300 species of birds and an array of fishes and plants. You can either enjoy it during a one-day cruise from Tulcea, or by immersing yourself in the local life in traditional villages of like Crișan, Sfântu Gheorghe, Mila 23 or Letea, experiencing the local hospitality and tasting the delicious local food.
The Anonimul International Independent Film Festival organized in August in Sfântu Gheorghe’s cinema and camping area will delight the nature and film lovers with its independent films.
Scattered around the region, centuries-old settlements lay in wait to be discovered as treasures of the old times. In Enisala, the ruins of a 14th-century fortress, part of the defensive system of Wallachia, dominate the traditional village of fishermen. On Lake Sinoe’s waterside, the ruins of the old Greek citadel of Histria, the oldest city on Romania’s territory, is one of the three main Greek colonies in the region, together with Tomis, today’s Constanta and Callatis, today’s Mangalia.
The Măcin Mountains, Romania’s lowest mountains and the oldest geological formations in the country exhibit marvellous landscapes. With peaks of no more than 500 meters (1,640 feet), the mountains are perfect for hiking, cycling and horseback riding. The Pricopan Heights are not to be missed, offering wild landscapes, and impressively huge granite blocks.
Known for its saline waters and sapropelic sludge, Technirghiol is a curative mud-bath resort located on the shore of Lake Technirghiol. Thanks to its beneficial effects, the water and mud are used for various skin treatments and as main ingredients of the Techir cosmetic products: natural soaps, massage oils and anti-rheumatic creams.
Murfatlar: a wine destination
Wine goes hand-in-hand with a region boasting perfect weather conditions for growing grapes. The Murfatlar vineyard and cave lure both wine lovers and wine specialists. Medium-dry and sweet wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Muscat Ottonel are produced at Murfatlar, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir red wines. The vineyards and the winery can be visited with prior reservation, followed by a wine tasting of the wonderful wines produced in the region.
The Dobrogean cuisine is a mix of Romanian, Greek, Turkish, Tartar and Bulgarian flavours and recipes. Mainly based on fish, the local dishes are homemade and luscious. Taste the storceag, one of the region’s specialities or sample tripe soup, made with beef tripe mixed with carrots, onions, pepper and garlic, seasoned with vinegar and sour cream.
The plachie de crap, cooked with onions and oil is a must-try on any menu, as is saramură, usually prepared with big pieces of carp boiled on the stove, served with polenta and garlic sauce.
For dessert, try sarailie cake, made with almonds dipped in syrup, or sample some homemade halva.
For a lighter lunch, salata Dobrogeana made with fresh vegetables, boiled eggs, grated cheese and minced parsley should suit those in search of a delicious midday dish.