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The Fortress of Enisala, Tulcea County


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Enisala Fortress – archaeological site

Code: TL-I-s-A-05785
Location: Enisala village, Sarichioi commune, Tulcea county, approximate 1km NE from Enisala village, on the lake Razelm shore.
Dating: XVI-XVth centuries.
Enisala is the only fortified medieval fortress preserved in elevation Romanian seaside. current policy considerations For strategic reasons it is situated on top of a Hercynic mountain rest approx. 2km NE of village Enisala (called Yeni in Turkish, translated from the ancient name Vicus Novus - New Village), height dominating lakes and adjacent land area. Alongside the Pacuiul lui Soare Fortress, Enisala is among leading military architecture of the Middle Ages in Romania.
Opinions on the founding of the fortress and the name were different. Construction of the fortress was assigned successively to Byzantines or the Genoese, by various researchers. The fact is that the fortress was built between the end of the XIIIth century and beginning of XIVth century.
Enisala fortress was built for military purposes, defense and surveillance in a time when Dunavăţ and and Cerneţ mouths were still unlocked, and the current Razim lake was still bay of the Black Sea.
The first document mentioning Yeni Sale name is the Turkish chronic of Sükrüllah from the fifteenth century.
A document on Mufti of Constanta at the end of the sixteenth century defines possessions of Gaza Ali Pasha, noting with Enisala name and that of Heraclea. According to an article by R.S. Ciobanu, a autrian map from eighteenth century is mentioning the name of Eracri-Kiipei, probably related to a local event. In the local toponymy Heracleea was associated with lake or small river. Last studies consider the name Enisala. Enisala fortress appears in an drawing of german geologist K. F Peters from the mid-nineteenth century and a lithograph from 1900 published by M.D. Ionescu.
Fortress built in the last quarter of the thirteenth century was first conquered by the Turks in 1388 and then passed under the rule of Mircea the Elder in 1393. Together with the Chilia fortress, Enisala was part of the defensive system of the Wallachia during the reign of Mircea the Elder was specifically documented in the time of the great ruler (1386-1418). In 1417 the Turks conquered the fortress definitely.
The fortress has an irregular polygonal plan, with two enclosures. Construction technique is similar to the Byzantine. All the walls were made of stone blocks (Jurassic limestone), summarily processed being of various sizes. The filling consists of crushed stone drowned in mortar. In the filling and walls are still observed oak beams traces (especially longitudinal, transverse).
The first precinct was discovered during archaeological excavations in the years 1963-1964. This main precinct had an irregular shape that followed irregular variation of the limestone massif on which is placed. West, south-west and north sides are naturally protected. Access is made through southeast wall. The cistern is attached to southeast curtain and is partially preserved. Between curtains, the precinct has, four towers and three buttresses.
First enclosure wall suggest the form of North and Northeast, towers 2, 3, 4 and buttresses 1 and 2. South curtain had a main gate, located in a gap of about 2.60 m wide and 3, 60 height, which no longer exist. Massive masonry containing gate had a height of 9m and 3m thick walls.
A particularly important architectural element is the tower of the access, with height of 15.30 m, having a leading role in defending the gate. On levels I and III were observed traces of windows. Access to ground floor was through a small outer scale. Further research established the principal role of the fortress tower being a seniority residence. Between Tower 1 and Tower 2 there is a watch road.
Northeast wall includes curtains 2 and 3, buttress tower no. 1. Tower no. 2 is polygonal and marks the south east corner of the fortress and has a maximum height of 6.5 m. At the level below the tower it was find a room to which access is most likely through a hatch and a small staircase.
Curtains 2 and 3 are very damaged. Maximum height is 7 m. Here are also signs of a former watch road. North wall include curtains 4 and 5, tower no. 4 and buttress tower no. 2. Along curtain no. 4 and the inside wall of the buttress no. 2 there are traces of a former watch road. Curtain no. 5 has a gap of approx. 3m high and could be a secondary gate. Tower no. 4 is rectangular and has high walls over 5m, with traces of a window in the north wall. South-west wall contains curtains 6 and 7, and buttress no. 3.
A second precinct of the fortress was observed during aerial photography taken in 1969. It lies north of the first precinct and was much larger than the first.
Excavations from 1998 revealed one of the houses of the garrison. Was built with stone foundations and elevation made probably of ancient wood, clay and stone. A rich archaeological material consists of coins, pottery, weapons, particularly arrowheads, illustrates everyday life of the fortress defenders.
Restoration: Consolidation and restoration projects were made in 1966, 1974-1976 and 1990-1991.
I. Barnea, Ștefan Ștefănescu, Din istoria Dobrogei, vol. III, ed. Academiei, 1971.
Radu Ștefan Ciobanu, Cetatea Enisala, Buletinul Monumentelor Istorice, nr. 1, 1971.
Raluca Iosipescu, Sergiu Iosipescu, Cronica cercetărilor arheologice din România. Campaniile 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, București.




Direcţia Judeţeană pentru Cultură şi Patrimoniul Naţional Tulcea
Institutul de Cercetări Eco-Muzeale





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