Framing the Lost Paradise and Archiving the Memory of an Island

In a cup of coffee are memories for forty years” / “Bir Fincan Kahvenin Kırk Yıl Hatırı Vardır” is a Turkish saying.

Every story about Adakale Island is wrapped in a strong aroma of Turkish coffee. Our site is thus a virtual cafe where the history and histories of Adakale Island are archived for all those interested in the subject. We offer the ingredients, each one then prepares her/his coffee according to her/his own taste.

Modern interpretation of Ottoman Iznik pottery (16th century) © ADAKALE (Hi)STORies

Adakale is alive!

Adakale was a 1.7km long and 500 m wide fortress island on the Danube along the coast of Turnu Severin, Romania. It was submerged in 1970 once the Dam of the Iron Gates was built. The inhabitants, around 680 people of mostly Turkish origin, were evicted and given the choice to live in Romania or Turkey. Due to its protection that has varied over time, Adakale was a political, military and cultural border and a meeting point of different cultures. Only in the past three centuries the island was Austrian, Ottoman and Romanian territory.

For more than half a century, the island has represented an inexhaustible and continuous source of inspiration for academic research and cultural projects. The history of the island, the tragic end, the material and immaterial heritage, the human drama caused by the relocation of the inhabitants, a special charm created by the Mediterranean climate, vegetation and people, determined the creation of a significant amount of artistic productions, documentaries and memorials, narratives, novels, paintings, 3D reconstructions, photo collections and postcards, reports, videos, interviews, memoirs, dedicated rooms in museums, etc.

All this proves the urge to “rescue” and “keep alive” the memory of the island through photographs, objects and memories of those who lived on the island or just visited it and is an invaluable archive.

Sorin Adam – Adakale, watercolor, 2021.
Commissioned artwork for ADAKALE (Hi)STORies project.

ADAKALE (Hi)STORies Project

ADAKALE (Hi)STORies is a common virtual meeting space for those passionate about the story of the island and also for academics interested in trans-regional, national, cultural and diplomatic history.

ADAKALE (Hi)STORies is a site dedicated to promoting the cultural and historical island covered by the Danube half a century ago, a virtual library and a research base in order to archive the history and memory of Adakale using academic methodology. The portal contains information and details on works of art, films, fiction and non-fiction writings made available in an organized, accessible, useful form for anyone interested in developing a new cultural or academic project about Adakale Island.

Archiving memory, memory of the archives – private photo collection  Ada -Kaleh Suvenir © Bogdan Cristel

ADAKALE (Hi)STORies Project is funded by  Center for Culture and Governance in Europe – University of St. Gallen through GCE-HSG Research Dissemination Grant: Borderland Studies in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea Region and realized in partnership with  Centrul de Studii Turce / Center for Turkish Studies – Faculty of History, University of Bucharest.