Did you know that Dobrogea has one of the most diverse populations in Romania? There are about 18 different cultures in the region: Romanians, Aromanians (Machidons) Turks, Tatars, Lipovan Russians, Bulgarians, Armenians, Jews, Greeks, Ukrainians, Gagauzians, Germans, Italians, Albanians, Serbs, Hungarians, etc. In Dobrogea, you can find the smallest minority of Gagauzians (Christian Turks) who live in Vama Veche and Fantana Mare. By the way, Fantana Mare is the only Muslim village from Romania inhabited entirely by Turks and Tatars.
The reason for this cultural diversification is due to the fact that throughout history, Dobrogea was under various occupations. The region was occupied by Dacians, Greeks, Romans and Ottomans. However, since the 19th century, Dobrogea has remained divided between the territories of Bulgaria and Romania. In Romania, Dobrogea is composed of the counties of Tulcea and Constanta, and in Bulgaria, by the counties of Durostor and Caliacra.
“Why is this region called Dobrogea?” The current name of Dobrogea comes from the despot Dobrotici, a former Bulgarian ruler who ruled in the Land of Carvuna (a former territory located between the northeastern Bulgarian side of Dobrogea and the Romanian one, not including the Danube Delta).
“When did Dobrogea become part of Romania?” The entire region of Dobrogea became part of Romania on December 14, 1878, after the Russo-Turkish war. However, in 1916, Dobrogea returned to Bulgaria following the lost battle at Turtucaia. After only 2 years, in 1918, Romania regained Dobrogea thanks to its victorious battles at Marasti, Marasesti and Oituz. During WW2, following the treaty that took place between Hitler and Charler II, Romania lost the southern part of Dobrogea. The counties of Caliacra and Durostor became part of Bulgaria.
“Is it Dobruja or Dobrogea?” It actually depends on the region. In Romania we called it “Dobrogea”, but in other countries, such as Bulgaria, they called it “Dobruja”. However, the region was known in the past as Dacia Pontica or Scythia Minor.
P.S.: If you are fascinated about history, legends and local stories, you cannot miss Dobrogea. You will be surprised how much there is to discover and to explore. Pin the following ancient cities to your list: Histria, Enisala, Tropaeum Traiani, Halmyris, Capidava, Argamum, Dinogetia, old Tomis, Ibida, Carsium, Troesmis, and Noviodunum.
Aren’t stories interesting? Each region has its own legends and stories, and Dobrogea makes no exception. The first one is regarding the great ancient poet called Ovid/Ovidius. Publius Ovidius Naso was born in the Italian peninsula in 43 b.C.. In the year 8 a.C., he was exiled to the city of Tomis (which is, nowadays, the city of Constanta), and lived there until the year of his death (17 b.C.). He wrote poems of great value, including Amores, Metamorphoses, Fastele, Triste, etc.. Today, in Constanta we find a statue of Ovidius, right in the center of the old town, and several places and institutions in Dobrogea bear his name.
Another captivating story revolves around the Apostle Andrew. According to the legends, the Apostle Andrew came to the region of Dobrogea around the 1st century b.C., not alone but escorted by “Marele Lup Alb”, the Big White Wolf. He preached the Gospel, reinforced by the presence of this great Dacian symbol, and gained the trust of the local populations. Nowadays, the Apostle Andrew is considered to be the apostle of Romanians and he is honored in many places of Dobrogea and Romania.