Location: South-Eastern Romania, between the Danube and the Black Sea
Dobrogea is a small region on the Black Sea shore where you’ll find Europe’s youngest land and the world’s third highest biodiversity area, the Danube Delta, plus some of the oldest mountains of the continent. Maybe the most popular summer destination in Romania, Dobrogea offers much more than a day at the beach, from bird watching to ancient ruins built thousands of years ago by powerful merchants.
The Greeks were the first to build colonies here, encouraged by the strategic position of the Black Sea on the commercial routes of the time. They were followed by the Roman Empire who conquered the region almost 2,000 years ago. After some centuries of independence often under the influence of the Byzantine Empire, the region was eventually conquered in the 15th century by the Ottoman Empire and remained under its domination until 1877 when it became part of the young Romanian state.
Already a mixed ethnic region, under the Ottoman domination its diversity increased even more as various Turkish populations settled in Dobrogea. In the 18th century, the Russians who opposed the religious schism from the time of Tsar Peter the Great also arrived in the region. They are since known as ‘lipoveni’, conserving their distinct cultural features. One century later, German colonists from the Russian Empire settled in Dobrogea, but their legacy is less present as most of them migrated at the time of the Second World War.
As part of the Romanian Kingdom, the region developed rapidly. Constanta becoming the most important port of the country and a truly cosmopolitan place in the early 20th century.
Dobrogea was one of the most multicultural parts of Romania, at least until the mid-20th century. In 1930, 44,2% of its population was Romanian, 22,8% Bulgarian, 18,5% were Turks, 2,7% Tatars, 3,4% Germans and to a smaller extent Greeks. At the time, Dobrogea was one of the most multicultural spaces of the continent, with a rich diversity of languages, religions and customs. (Source: Romania tara de frontiera a Europei by Lucian Boia, Humanitas, 2007).
While the communist regime did all it could to diminish this cultural diversity and partially succeeded, you can still feel the multicultural diversity when it comes to tasting delicious local foods like ‘suberek’, ‘borek’, ‘kobete’ or ‘giudem’ you can find in major beach cities like Mangalia and Constanta.
Tourism in Dobrogea
Dobrogea is for most people a summer destination, but an all seasons attraction if you wish to explore its historical and cultural attractions. Still, if you’re planning to do bird watching in the Danube Delta, go until the end of September.
Nature attractions: the Danube Delta, Macinului Mountains National Park, beaches on the Black Sea shore, Gura Portitei
Sports: water sports, hiking, horseback riding
Not to miss: the ancient ruins and the Danube Delta