The other day, I went with some friends to visit the medieval fortress of Enisala, or Heracleea, as it’s best known. Since I’d never seen it before, I was very excited to finally see one of the great citadels in the country.
[adsense]As we got there, we found the fortress one top of a tall hill from where the view was spectacular! In a clear sunny day, you could probably see as far as Tulcea or even further. Sure, the ticket person told us not to climb the walls, but come on, we had to do it 😀
The history of the place is pretty interesting, as it lies inside an archeological complex with remains from the Neolithic period up until the middle ages. The fortification itself was built around the middle of the thirteenth century with a military purpose, to watch and protect the commerce that was taking place on the Danube at the time. Most likely, the Genovese were the ones who built it.
From 1397 to 1418, it was part of medieval Romania’s defensive system, under the reign of Mircea the Elder. When the Turks conquered Dobrogea in 1419, they settled a military garrison here, but because the Danube Delta kept forming around it, the fortress lost its strategic importance and was eventually abandoned.
Yes, back in those days, the Enisala fortress was right on the seashore, protecting the vital maritime commercial routes. These days, it is a good 25 kilometers away from the Black Sea. From the top of the hill, you will now see vast marshes and the Razim Lake, the largest in Romania, which was formed when a thin sand bank was formed and closed its access to the Black Sea.
[adsense]Over the years, it changed its names a couple of times. From Vicus Novu, which meant “New Village” to Novoe Selo, which was later translated by the Turks as Yeni-Sale, and its current name, Enisala.
In the last few years they’re been restoring parts of the fortress. It is slowly starting to look like it did back in its glory days. There is still much work to be done, as they’ve only rebuilt part of the walls and the main tower. But there are also lots of remains inside which would definitely look great if brought back to life.
I discovered a postcard featuring an old picture of Heracleea, before the main tower was rebuilt and from a slightly different angle than the picture above. Hope you like it:
If you’re ever nearby, you should definitely visit this place. The view alone is totally worth it!