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The Enisala Fortification – Traveling In Time


The Enisala fortification is found just 2 kilometers away from the village with the same name in the Tulcea county, Romania. One can reach it in two ways: from Navodari following Babadag and the Enisala village or from Medgidia, following Mihail Kogalniceanu, Lumina, Babadag and Enisala.

The name of the fortification comes from the Turkish word “yeni” (new) and also the regionalism form Dobrogea “sale” (settlement, village), thus a new village or a new village. It seems that the Turks  took this name from the administrative unit next to the fortification, called Vicus Novus (The New Village) and then Novoe Selo. At the same time, the fortification is acknowledged under the names of Heraclia and Heracleea. The fortress was built in the 4th century by the Genovese, who haled at that time the monopoly on the Black Sea regarding navigation and who, through this construction wanted to supervise the ships passing through here. Since 1396 until 1416 the fortification was used by Mircea the Elder as one of the defensive systems of the Romanian Country. Then, after the Turks conquered the area, they used it as a military point, but abandoned it when they did not need it any more.

The Enisala fortification was mentioned for the first time in an official document in the 15th century, when the Serb chronicler Sukrullah wrote about the fortifications in Dobrogea conquered by Bajasid I. It was then mentioned in 1573 in an Ottoman registry as one of the properties of the administrative unit Harsova-Babadag, which was bound to give sheep to the Ottoman Empire. In 1877, in a map belonging to the Russians, it is presented as a settlement of 10-20 homes. In the more recent documents the fortress was mentioned under the name Ienisali in 1850, and later in some Ottoman documents between 1864 and 1877 it is mentioned under the old name, Yeni-Sala. In 1882 Enisala was declared a rural settlement.

The Enisala fortress is one of the few medieval fortifications in Dobrogea which resisted time quite well and also possible thieves. The walls of the fortifications were kept at the height of 5-10 meters, one noticing that it was built to look like an irregular quadrilateral, but having the south-western side destroyed. At the exterior, one can see 8 defense towers, having between three and four sides. Th entrance gate is characterized by a tall opening, with a double arch, while the walls and the 8 towers were made out of limestone, of all kinds o sizes.

Even though the walls suffered because of the meteorological phenomena, the Romanian authorities restored them after 1991. Moreover, in 2009, the road leading to the fortification was fixed, also promotion being added to all these. Also in 2009 the representatives of the Museum of HHistory and Archaeology in Tulcea revealed the fact that they want to attract more tourists through events and even a medieval festival organized in the fortification, as well as an exhibition of the objects found by archaeologists.

The archaeological research at the Enisala fortification began for the first time in 1939, which led to the discover of Genovese, Byzantine, Turkish or Moldavian coins, proving once again, as if it were the case, that the fortification had an important role from a political, military, economic and administrative points of view. In the last years, the works to bring potable water to the locality made the archaeologists again busy. Even if it is not exactly near the fortification, the point called “La Bucluc” revealed five graves, in which archaeologists found five skeletons, among which one of a child. Next to them, they also discovered a few Ottoman coins (some form the period 1703-1730, when the sultan Ahmed III ruled), bronze earrings and glass beads at the neck of the child.

In another point the anterior archaeological research revealed a cemetery from the 15th-18th centuries, while more recent research revealed objects from three graves. In the first grave there is the skeleton of a woman between the age of 25 and 30, who had on one of her fingers a silver ring with a stone made of glass, this kind of jewelry being specific to the 17th century.

The second grave includes a skeleton of a woman around her 50s, who had in one of her hands an Ottoman coin from the 17th century. In the third grave a child was found, who had a coin of the same type. Al the discoveries until now are very important, as specialists can form an opinion about the people who lived here, about the habits, as well as about the importance the fortification had in the medieval period.

The Enisala fortification can be visited between Tuesday and Sunday like this: between 10-18 in the months between May and September and between 8-16 in the period October-April. It costs about  ½ Euros to see it and there is no tax for making photographs.


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