One thing that you’ll love about the northern Dobruja, besides the Danube Delta, is the fact that it has an abundance of religious monuments.
The site is beautifuly situated in the middle of the woods, in a beautiful clearing on the Cilic valley.
The first church was built here in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century by a group of monks from Transylvania and Bucovina. They lived on the Athos Mountain in Greece for a while and they decided to settle here, near a village built by Transylvanian sheepherders.
Unfortunately, that first church burned down. Nowadays, archeologists uncovered an old cemetery there. Also, they found a necropolis from the sixth century just a few kilometers from here.
The Cilic Dere monastery was founded here in 1841, with Athanasie Lisavenco behind the project. He had the written approval of the Ottoman sultan at the time, Abdul Medgid, as well as the Greek Church.
It was initially a mixed monastery, but in 1846, all monks had to move to a different site called Cilicul de Jos, leaving Celic Dere to the nuns. Later on, they would build the Saon Monastery.
In 1946, they opened the first church. The building of the curet church started in 1901 and was completed in 1916, with the paintings taking another 16 years for completion. The architect was Toma Dobrescu, while the painting was done by Ion Dinea.
As you enter the monastery, you’ll be delighted to find an old wooden wind mill. Back in the nineteenth century, these mills used to everywhere throughout the northern Dobrogea. I have an old photo with no less than five of them on a small site near Tulcea.
Back then, visitors going down the Sulina channel could see tens of them lined up on the side of the Danube, near the village of Crișan. Too bad they were taken down… We could have had a netherlands thing going.