Izvoarele, Tulcea: Wikis


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—  Commune  —
Location of Izvoarele
Coordinates: 45°3′N 28°32′E / 45.05°N 28.533°E / 45.05; 28.533Coordinates: 45°3′N 28°32′E / 45.05°N 28.533°E / 45.05; 28.533
Country Romania
County Tulcea
Component villages Alba, Iulia, Izvoarele
 - Mayor Niculache Peiciu (since 2004)
Population (2007)
 - Total 3,778
Postal code
Website http://www.cjtulcea.ro/judet/izvoarele.html (Romanian)

Izvoarele is a commune in Tulcea County, Dobruja region, Romania. It is situated in the southwestern part of the county, delimited by the following communes:

  • at north Niculitel commune administrative territory;
  • at south Horia and Nalbant administrative territories
  • at east Frecatei and Nalbant administrative territories;
  • at west Horia commune administrative territory;

The distance between Tulcea and Izvoarele is 32 km (DJ227 road Nalbant – Horia).
The Izvoarele commune has a surface of 29987,09 ha:

  • Izvoarele: 177,00 hectares (ha);
  • Valea Teilor: 166,40 ha;
  • Alba: 76,50 ha;
  • Iulia: 72,55 ha.

Izvoarele commune is crossed by the Taita river with its tributaries: Alba and Cişmea.
The villages included in the commune: Izvoarele commune residence, Alba at 4 km from commune residence, Iulia at 5 km from commune residence and Valea Teilor at 13 km from commune residence.
It has a continental climate: hot summers with poor rainfalls and warm winters with strong winds. The yearly temperature is 11°C. Rainfalls: 400mm / m2 per year.
If before 1989 there were 5531 inhabitants now there are only 3880. This dramatic decline of populace was determined by the mass emigration of the inhabitants of the commune especially those of Izvoarele village. The majority of the Greek inhabitants of Izvoarele commune residence returned to their mother country for a better life. Many have stayed there for more than 10 years but the most return in Izvoarele to their parents for hollydays. Some have double citizenship: Romanian and Greek.
Nowadays the total number of population is 3880:

  • Izvoarele: 1670;
  • Valea Teilor: 1567;
  • Alba: 304;
  • Iulia: 339.

In this commune the majority of the people are Greeks (mostly live in Izvoarele village) but there are Bulgarians, Turks, Romanians and Gypsies (mostly live in Valea Teilor and Iulia) as well.

To view other ethnic groups in Tulcea county see also:


Izvoarele commune residence

Izvoarele is the commune residence. It is surrounded by hills and crossed by the Cişmea river also known as "Derea".
The great majority of the populace is of Greek origin. In the past there were Bulgarians and Turks as well but now very few are left. The most mixed with the Greeks.
The mayor is Niculache Peiciu.
The people are Christian - Orthodox. In the past they were all Orthodox Old-Rite but now some are Orthodox Western Rite.
The village has two churches. One is Orthodox Old-Rite and the other Orthodox Western Rite.
After the Romanian Revolution of 1989 a large part of the people from Izvoarele village decided to go in Greece to work. Many have requested Greek citizenship.


The name of the village "Izvoarele" means "the Springs" in Romanian. It was named after a place named "Trei izvoare" ("three springs") in a nearby forrest.
The first name of the village was Alibichioi. It had other names as well: Regele Ferdinand (after the Romanian king Ferdinand Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen) and Filimon Sarbu (named after a Romanian communist activist and anti-fascist militant executed by the pro-Nazi authorities during World War II. After the war, he was acclaimed as a hero by the communist government).

Ethnicity and language

The locals speak an obsolete form of Greek called Ρωμαίικα (Romeika or Romaic) spoken since at least the 11th century.
The medieval Greek state of Byzantium continued to refer to itself as "Ρωμανία" (Romania, or land of the Romans), long after the city of Rome and the western half of the Roman Empire were overrun by barbarians. Romeika means the language of the Romans. . Romeika was the official language of the Byzantine Empire, and continued to be used even after the fall of the Empire in the 15th century.

After the fall of the Byzantine Empire the language existed in a situation of diglossia, with regional spoken dialects existing side by side with learned, archaic written forms.

Standard Modern Greek is the product of the popular "Δημοτική" (Dhimotikí), the Demotic (vernacular) language that had many non-Greek words and "Καθαρεύουσα" (Katharévusa) meaning "the clean one" or "purified", an imitation of classical Greek that started to be used after the Greek Revolution. The odd thing is that the Modern Greek has most of its neologisms borrowed from the Classical Greek.
The Greek language spoken in Izvoarele is different from the Standard Modern Greek simply because it is the archaic form. The language spoken here has non-Greek words also so it was probably Dhimotikí, Demotic.
Even now Romeika is spoken in Izvoarele alongside Romanian.
In the local school the children learn in Romanian but they are taught other languages like English and Greek (modern day Greek).
In the past the locals spoke Romeika (the young ones), Bulgarian (the families that had Bulgarian members), Turkish (only the old ones knew) and Romanian. The old people, the elders, spoke in Turkish when they wanted to tell each other secrets. They did this because their children didn't spoke Turkish.
In Izvoarele there is the largest Hellenic community from Romania. Now most of the inhabitants are members of the Hellenic Union of Romania. The Hellenic Union organizes periodically regional, national and international conferences regarding the interests of the Hellenic communities. It organizes Modern Greek language courses and traditional dance courses. The Hellenic Union of Romania also has a magazine called “Elpis” (Hope).

Local legends

There is a local legend about seven families who came to seek refuge from the war in their country and set camp in a forest. Alibichioi was a local Turk who helped them pass the winter. Initially they wanted to return in Greece in spring but changed their minds and stayed in Dobruja, which was part of Romania at the time. To show their gratitude they named the settlement "Alibichioi".
Others say the group took refuge on a mountain, probably Consul (which is actually a hill) but came down because their wives were pregnant and because of this decided to remain in Tulcea county, Dobruja.

Possibilities regarding the origin of the Greek inhabitants of Izvoarele village

From the legends the elders say there are two possibilities:

1) They came here during the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829), also commonly known as the Greek Revolution in 1821 with Alexander Ypsilantis, one of the leaders of the Filiki Eteria, a secret organisation working in the early 19th century, whose purpose was to overthrow Ottoman rule over Greece and to establish an independent Greek state or from Mani after the Ottomans regained control over Greece (Moreea).
See also:

The old people say they came in Izvoarele in the first half of the 19th century from Southern Greece were the war started. This is proved by their slogans which are still taught to children. These slogans were used during the Greek revolution.
They probably came from Mani, a harsh, remote region in the South of Peloponnese where under the final bey Petros Mavromichalis the local clans united, instigating the Greek independence uprising on 17 March 1821. The local clans were of Byzantine origin and came there in the 15th century after the collapse of the Byzantine Empire. The most powerful formed a local aristocracy known as the Nyclians. The clans fought each other for supremacy. Because of this the Ottoman Empire wisely refrained from ruling the Mani directly, but instead quietly encourage the clans to feud in order to weaken potential rebellions, and appointed a Nyclian chieftain as bey (regional lord). The losing clan members that were defeated ran away in other places.
The inhabitants of Izvoarele speak Romeika the language spoken in the Byzantine Empire. The name Romeika comes from the way the inhabitants of the Empire called themselves "Ρωμιοί" ("Romioi") meaning Romans. It is possible the Greeks from Izvoarele were members of the clans who accompanied Alexander Ypsilantis. Eteria had especially Phanariote (Byzantine) members. It is also possible they came after Greece was reconquered.
The people that live in the Mani region of Greece (the Maniots) claim they are descendants of the Spartan warriors. They are the last that embraced Christianity in Greece, in the 9th century, and therefore kept a lot of pagan traditions. Many fled to other places like Corsica island (there are some who support the idea that Napoleon Bonaparte was part Maniot), Catalonia, Ioannina where they settled on Nisi island in the 17th century because of the clan's oppressions.
The people from Izvoarele have a series of traditions that refer to pagan gods and heroes ("Hurhumbalu'", "Lazarelul") that in the meantime lost their original meaning so it is most likely they came from here. They probably came after the Ottoman Empire regained control over Peloponnesse.
The Maniots are a very superstitious people. Maniots mainly believe in witches, demons, vampires, and ghosts. The people from Izvoarele are also very superstitious. In the village there were some women who claimed to have supernatural powers. They were called witches by the inhabitants. They were known in all Romania and all kind of people with problems came to them for help: sick people, women who couldn't have children, possessed people, women who wanted someone to fall in love with them etc. The witches performed spells, exorcism and prepared magic potions.
It is also possible the Greeks from Izvoarele were a mixture of Byzantine clan members and Mani locals.
In any case they were Maniots, Byzantines or both. One thing is certain though: they were Greek revolutionaries that came in Tulcea county, Dobruja with their revolutionary flags, songs and slogans!

2) They came from Smyrna during the Greco–Turkish War of 1919–1922, also called the War in Asia Minor. This theory however is probably wrong because men in Izvoarele village fought in the World War I for Romania and the elders in the Greek community sustain they came in Tulcea in the 19th century.

3) Τhere is also the possibility that they came here at about 1830 from the mostly then Greek populated region of Kirklareli (previously called "Kirk Kilise" or "Saranda Eklisies" in Greek meaning "40 churches". It is situated in today's Eastern Thrace in the European part of Turkey) following the return of the Russian army after the end of the Russo-Turkish War (1828–1829) and the Treaty of Adrianople. They feared revenge from the Turks because they collaborated with the Russians. They allied with them because they were fighting for the liberation of their homeland. This possibility is supported by the fact that their folklore and their Greek dialect is of Thracian Greek origin. Also some elders of the village support this view. They say that the man who fought in World War II against Russia found villages of Greek inhabitants that spoke the same dialect. It is possible that after the Russo-Turkish War the Greeks from Kirklareli settled in Dobruja and other parts of Russia (Dobruja was a Russian province in that period).

4) Asprus village near Thessaloniki. The dialect spoken in Izvoarele is of the Northern dialects.

Costume and traditions

The people from Izvoarele kept a lot of Greek traditions but borrowed others from the Bulgarian and Romanian neighbors for example the traditional Bulgarian clothing.

- "Olaria" (Pottery) also called "Hurhumbalu'" but only in Izvoarele village consisted of setting fires on hills, fueled by vegetal remains. The fire had a purifying role and made room for new vegetation. The gesture of rolling wrapped-in-straw cartwheels on the hills had the same purpose, of purifying the evil. At the same time, it was a symbol of the Sun. These practices make one think of the vegetation cult, and of that of the Sun, without which nothing can regenerate or exist. The young men's jumping over the fire represents an initiation rite to manhood.
- "Lazarelul" (St. Lazar's Day) is practiced only in Izvoarele village. This practice consists in songs about Lazar who went into the forest to bring food for the animals and never came back. His mother and the young girls in the village cry to show how much they loved him. Because of this from his grave grows a tree with large branches. It signifies the death and the rebirth of the vegetational hero. It means that in the same way the vegetation from the surrounding fields will grow again after the passing of the winter.
- "Boboteaza" and "Intrecerea cailor" (Riding contest)
"Boboteaza" The religious service aimed at sanctifying the waters is a custom which lived up to this day. Customs that remind us of the pre-Christian rites of initiation are sometimes related to the religious service. The young men dive into the water to catch the cross (Christian element), but the fact that they do it in order to prove that they have reached their manhood, leads on to the archaic rites. "Intrecerea cailor" (Riding contest) takes place on the same day and it has a similar meaning: the young men prove their manhood in contest. The winner is acknowledged as a true man and offers a treat to his competitors.
- At "Elefterio" women tell each other stories near a fire camp.


1) www.cjtulcea.ro
2) www.tulcea-turism.ro
3) www.tulcea.insse.ro
4) www.angelfire.com
5) Main consultant: Marc Dubin. EYEWITNESS TRAVEL GUIDES: GREECE (ATHENS & THE MAINLAND). Dorling Kindersley



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