The cultural historical landscape in the Măcin Mountains National Park is represented by many archaeological sites, taken out of anonymity as a result of many excavations done in time by numerous societies or archaeological institutes, the Tulcea Eco-Museum Research Institute, etc. They have provided proof for the existence of human settlements in the region since the Stone Age.
Archaeological research has highlighted the existence of Chalcolithic objects belonging to the Gumelniţa culture (known especially for the Thinker statue of Cernavodă, belonging to the Hamangia culture). Vestiges of this culture have been discovered in Luncaviţa in the point called “at the Fortress (la cetăţuie)” and near the Văcăreni village. Traces of the Gumelniţa culture – pottery rests – are also found at Garvăn.
In Garvăn there was also a Geto-Dacian settlement and there are the ruins of the Roman-Byzantine Fortress Dinogetia (portions of the wall, defense towers, the main gate – dating from the 4th century), and other early feudal settlements (Daco-Roman tradition pottery, agricultural tool and weapons, monetary treasures, jewelry, food deposits). The Fortress has been first mentioned by Ptolemy in his 1st century work, Geographia. The fortress has been built during Emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD), with the purpose of strengthening the Danube border of the Roman Empire, as a defense line against migrating populations. The archaeological material discovered in this area proves that inside the Fortress as well as during the early medieval settlement there had been an intense economic activity based on internal production and barter, with the neighboring areas. The relations with the Byzantine Empire are proved by the coin treasures found here. The stone ruins of a chapel have also been discovered here, it has frescoed painted walls, being actually the oldest medieval Byzantine monument on the territory of Romania.
Other vestiges of the Gumelniţa Neolithic culture have been discovered in Jijila, Văcăreni, Garvăn. On the shore of Jijila Lake excavations have discovered settlement traces going back to the Iron Age.
In Văcăreni a coin treasure has been discovered, containing Ducats issued during Mircea the Elder. It is supposed to have been buried here since 1436 after the battle of Nicopolis, in which Mircea the Elder, the Voivode of Walachia, took part alongside Crusaders.
In Nifon two Roman monuments dedicated to the Roman goddess Diana have been found, the oldest dating from 170 A.D.
The Roman Castrum Arrubium is found at Măcin, being mentioned in documents around 100 B.C. Its ruins are still visible today close to the NW part of the city.
5 km away from Măcin the tiles of a Roman aqueduct have been discovered. The Roman Fortress Troesmis was one of the main fortresses of the Getae, being mentioned by ancient sources referring to the military conflicts between Lysimachus and Dromichaete (the beginning of the 3rd century B.C.). The poet Ovid mentions Troesmis as an old fortress (Vetus arx), which Pomponius Flaccus conquered from the Getae and gave to King Rheuscuporis of the Thracians (12 A.D.). Other testimonies of history and culture in Măcin are the old inn built 300-400 years ago and the mosque, architectural monument built in the 18th century.
An interesting local legend details about Popina Blasova, a natural monument of the Brăila Marshes, found opposite from the Turcoaia commune. The legend says that a giant young man of Brăila, being in love with a girl from Igliţa (nowadays Turcoaia) became so angry when his courtship was refused that he took a rock off the Orliga Hill besides Măcin and threw it towards Igliţa. The rock fell in the Marshes of Brăila forming what is today known as the Blasova Rock or Popina. The girl answered by taking a rock off Iacob Hill and throwing it towards her courter. This rock fell between Măcin and Smârdan, in the place called the Girl’s Rock (Piatra Fetii).
Other places of worship, spirituality and ethnic continuity in the area of the Măcin Mountains National Park are: Also, in the Măcin Mountains National Park there are many historically important places of worship, such as:
The Celic Dere Monastery – which was given its location’s name, Valea cu Fragi – Wild Strawberries (Celic) Valley (Dere). It is a cornerstone of Orthodoxy and has its beginnings in the monastic traditions of the IV-VIII centuries A.D. The settlement has been built by a few Transylvanian monks coming from Mt. Athos, which were enchanted by this wonderful meadow of the Teliţa village.
The Cocoş Monastery – old historical monastic monument near the Niculiţel commune. The beginnings of the monastery date around 1833 when the same founders of the Celic Dere monastery have laid the first cornerstone of this monastic establishment. Rebuilt in 1870 in an oriental style, with a porch and veranda, it has been declared a historical monument in 1959. An old Roman establishment depending to Noviodunum Fortress – Isaccea, has been recently discovered in Niculiţel – with the dome of a (martirium) stone and brick crypt, where the relics of four martyrs were found dating to 303-304 (the great persecution of Emperor Domitian). They are now resting in a most honorable place at the Cocoş Monastery.
The Saon Monastery. It is positioned at approximately 30 minutes away from Tulcea on the right side of the DJ 222A road towards Luncaviţa. It is the Eastern corner of the famous Dobrogean monasteries: Saon, Celic Dere and Cocoş, built during the Ottoman dominion (after 1833). The Saon Monastery has a relaxing special view thanks to its position on the shore of the Saon Lake – a land full of beauty and tranquility.
Other places of worship, spirituality and ethnic continuity are: the Măcin mosque, the Isaccea mosque, the Basilica with a crypt (martirium) in Niculiţel, St. Athanasius Church in Niculiţel, and the Paleo-Christian Church with a crypt also in Niculiţel.