by Diana Vlad
I took a weekend trip to Constanta to visit a friend there. I went by train. When I arrived there we first visited an art museum named Topalu in honor of Dinu and Sevata Vintila. It houses a collection of modern Romanian artists, among them Nicolae Tonitza, Theodor Pallady, Nicolae Grigorescu, and Camil Ressu. It is open all year round and I highly recommend it for a rich cultural experience of the region. Many of the paintings depict scenery from Balcik, which was a part of Romania during the time of Queen Maria, before becoming part of Bulgaria, as it is now. There are also many paintings depicting Tatars and Turks whose culture deeply influenced the Dobrogea region of Romania.
Afterwards we stopped at the Capidava fortress, in the village of Capidava, Constanta county, which is currently being reconstructed. Entry is free. At the moment they are building the fortress museum where they will house the various precious archaeological artefacts found. It is a very large settlement and quite an uplifting experience to be there. It feels like another country, very similar to the Bulgarian coast. The Danube runs beneath it; almost turquoise in colour. Capidava was an important Geto-Dacian centre on the right bank of the Danube river. After the Roman conquest it became a civil and military centre for the Romans, as part of the Moesia Inferior province (later Scythia Minor), present day Dobrogea. At the end of the day we stopped at a unique restaurant in the forest, called literally the Forest. I ate a special Turkish dish with rice. Unfortunately they had no Turkish coffee.
The next day we went to Saint Mary Monastery in the nearby city of Techirghiol, known for its healing mud. The name Techirghiol is derived from a Turkish world meaning “The Lake of Tekir”. There is a legend about a blind and crippled man named Tekir who arrived at the shore of the lake with his donkey by accident. As he tried to pull his donkey out of the mud, Tekir was miraculously healed and he could see and walk normally. Since then, the lake has become famous for its healing properties, and many people go there every year to be treated in the therapeutic mud of the lake. There is also a balneotherapy centre in the town and people can also get treated at the Saint Mary Monastery. The Saint Mary Monastery is a must. Decorated all around with beautiful mosaics, it literally takes your breath away with its uniqueness. It faces the lake, and on a sunny day, the mosaics sparkle. It is a monastery of nuns, and it was also the last home of the famous and beloved monk, Father Arsenie Papacioc, who lived and preached there in the last 35 years of his life, after being released from the Communist’s prison. Pilgrims can have the privilege of visiting the humble room where he slept, studied, and prayed. His belongings are all still there.
All in all, it was a journey for the soul and mind, and an excellent taste of my homeland and her fascinating history.