Sulina is the second of the two cities in Danube Delta, with a population of only a couple thousands of people.
[adsense]Although its geographic features set it apart from any other city in Romania (the country’s easternmost point, lowest altitude – only 3.5 meters above sea level, accessibility only by water), its history makes it truly unique.
The settlement was first mentioned in 950 AD by the Russians during their march against Constantinople. Later, extensive documentations of the city, either as Solina or Selinas, were made by Italian merchants who by the XIVth century were the main commercial force in the area.
Once the Turks conquered Chilia in 1480, they raised an important fortress in Sulina to control the entrance to the Danube and counteract the pirates and the Kazaks.
The most interesting period in the city’s history began in 1856 when it became the headquarter of the European Commission of the Danube, an international organism that was meant to neutralize the ‘hot spot’ that the Russian-Turkish wars created in this area throughout the centuries.
The ECD had representatives from Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Russia and Turkey, so the no one country had supreme control over the lower Danube. This way, everybody’s commercial interests were protected.
The city became a free port and very soon, every important shipping company in Europe had an office in Sulina. Sulina became one of the most cosmopolite cities in the region, with over 18 different nationalities living and working together in harmony. Testaments for this are the six different churches, St. Nicholas, Ukrainian, Greek, Protestant etc.
Sulina’s cemetery, unique in Romania, is also a place where you will see the how all these different people coexisted. There are British and Austrians, buried next to Germans and Russians, with their resting places marked either with simple crosses or complicated monuments. Once, there was even a Cantacuzino princess in there, but she was later moved to Constantinople and only a monument reminds us about her.
[adsense]What I found the most interesting was that there is a Greek pirate buried a few meters from the princess. When I heard about it, I just had to go there and see it. As I was taking a picture, I couldn’t get a good angle, so I had to move back a little. Funny thing, I stepped into a big hole and fell over the grave behind me 🙂 I think I may have broken the fence, but one of the maintenance people said not to worry about it 😀
The sad thing is that The Second World War and the communist regime destroyed pretty much everything that Sulina used to be. Besides the Palace of the European Commission of the Danube, the water tower and the cemetery, there isn’t much to remind of the old days.
The city is now an important touristic place and old buildings and monuments are slowly being restored to their former glory. Sulina, for me, is definitely of the most important places to see in Danube Delta and next summer, if I don’t fit anything in my schedule, I’ll make sure to spend my holiday there.
The Sulina beach
The beach in Sulina is definitely of of the city’s main attractions. It is still keeping its wild aspect, making it one of the best retreats for the nature enthusiasts, as well as anybody who want to cool off during a hot summer day.
It continues to the south towards Sfantu Gheorghe, making it one of the largest stretch of wild sand in Romania. If you’re up to it, the thirty kilometer walk between the two is a unique way to test your endurance and enjoy nature.