Babadag is a city in the Tulcea County in Dobrogea, in the eastern part of Romania, being a town with a lot of history and with a great mixture of turks and tatar populations.
The town is situated at 37 km south from Tulcea, on the DN 22, the road that links Constanta to Tulcea and from there to Braila and Ramnicu Sarat, is located near the Babadag lake, on the foot of Coiun Baba hill, Sultan Tepe hill and Ianik Bair hill (Burned Hill). The administrative territory of Babadag stretches on a surface of 12 188.03 ha. The population is mainly romanians (69.91 %), and the other minorities are the romanies (13.64 %), turks (4.42 %) and tatars (under 3 %). Most of the population is ortodox (70.32 %), with an important muslim minority (17.7 %).
But let’s start in the ancient times. And when I mean ancient, i mean the Roman Empire times, where on the Babadag territory was a settlement known as Vicus Novus. This was mentioned in an inscription from the year 178 and on downtown Babadag were found a lot of roman traces that proves the sub-urban level of this settlement (pipes for water from burn ceramic into the masonry).
The first documentation of this town after this period is in 1263, when Dobrogea was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and got it’s name: Babadag (The father’s mountain). For a period the town was the administrative center of Dobrogea, being one of the most developed cities in the region. From that era you can still see the turkish “geamia” from the XVI century alongside the tomb of Gazi Ali Pasa and Kalaigi fountain, Sari Saltuk Dede mausoleum or Panaghia house.
In the 1677-1679 the pasha residence moved from Silistra (nowday in Bulgaria, but a former Ottoman and Romanian territory) to Babadag and in that way the importance of Babadag as a residence of the most important man of turkish conquest in the Souther Danube province grown even larger.
In 1878 Dobrogea goes under the Romanian control and so is Babadag, a town that slowly looses the power and influence from the turkish times and the decline starts. Over the next century the town was either in Romanian, German, Bulgarian or Russian hands for short periods of time, but mostly is was part of Romania and over time it was reduced to agriculture town.
Well, would you ask, what can I visit in this town ?
Well, since it was in important outpost for the turkish pasha over the centuries, the town kept a lot of turkish elements like the Gazi Ali Pasa mosque (called “geamia”), the Kalaigi fountain or the Sari Saltuk Dede mausoleum. However you can visit the Oriental Art Museum of Babadag which is hosted by the Panaghia building, a building form the XIX century in the oriental style. In this museum you can see a lot of oriental artefacts from the turkish period of this town.
If you go 5 km north towards Tulcea you can find the ruins of a former Roman fortress in the IV-V century after Christ.
If you go west on the DJ 223A towards Enisala, you can find a rocky hill and on this hill you can find the ruins of citadel locally called Heracleea, a former genovese stronghold on the black sea (historians think that the real name was Bambola or Stavrichi), built at the end of the XIII century or the first half of the XIV century), probably the castle of a local landlord, Dimitrie. More about Enisala citadel in another article.
If you want to spend the night in town you can find some hostels in town like Babadag cabin, “La Parmac” Hotel or “Doi Iepurasi” Halt (literraly meaning Two Rabbits).
So if you want to see how a former turkish town looks like without leaving the EU, Babadag should definitely be on your list.