Ada Kale


The construction of the Iron Gates Dam changed the river, the gorge and its people forever. Underwater lie deserted villages, cloisters, ancient roads, islands, and rocks. There probably is no other place in the Lower Danube that has a richer history and has had a more fateful influence on the lives of its people than the sunk Island of Ada Kale.

Ada Kale (Turkish for “island fortress”) was located 3 km downstream of the town of Or┼čova. It measured 1,75 km in length and 400-500 m in width. The island had long attracted the interest of the Danube countries with its strategic location. It changed rulers several times, and each of them built and improved the fortress walls. During the last two centuries of its existence, the population of the island was a mixture of all kinds of ethnic groups, with the Turkish being the most numerous. After the Ottoman Empire retreated from the region in 1878, this Turkish enclave continued to exist to its last days as a peculiar kind of island-state.

The self-governing population was exempt from taxes, customs and conscription. The inhabitants lived off of tobacco growing and processing, fishing and smuggling. A lot of people associate the island with the brands of tobacco and Turkish delight of the same name, which were produced there. The island attracted many visitors with its unique romantic atmosphere, its rose bushes, figs, and vine arbours. During the last decades of its existence it was a popular tourist destination.

With the decision to evacuate the population, came the proposal to move them to another island downstream, directly below the large dam wall. Some of the cultural monuments of Ada Kale were even relocated there – part of the fortress with the catacombs, the market, the cemetery, the mosque, the house of Mahmut Pasha (the last island governor) and others. None of the inhabitants of the island settled in the New Ada Kale. They emigrated as far as the Asian part of Turkey, Dobrudzha, Israel.


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Location: Bulgaria


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Ada Kale | Iron Gates Dam | Djerdap National Park | Djerdap | sunk | island

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