Places of interest09 April 2024

Niculițel Basilica, Tulcea County – a Paleochristian monument unique in the world

Under auspicious circumstances, in 1971, after many torrential rains that washed the earth at the foot of Piatra Rosie hills, the locals discovered a mysterious stone dome

Niculițel Basilica, Tulcea County

Niculițel Basilica, Tulcea County

Located in the rural area, in a location whose archeological excavations date from the 1st century AD, the basilica, discovered by chance, represents an impressive monument dedicated to Christian martyrs. Under the stone dome a crypt of two levels was found: the upper level hosted the relics of four people and the lower level hosted the relics of two people.  

On a wall of the crypt, two Greek inscriptions written in red are found: “The martyrs of Christ” and “The martyrs Zoticos, Atalos, Kamasis, Philippos”. Above the inscriptions there is a cross with the monogram of Jesus Christ.  

Two sacrifice pots were also discovered as well as a sandstone plate with a Greek inscription: “Here and there the blood of the martyrs”  

The journey of the relics of martyrs The Communist authorities of those times tried to cover up the discovery and didn’t want to disclose anything about the relics of the saints and therefore they left them there for a long time subject to bad weather. However, during the night of January 17th, 1973, His Eminence Gherasim Constanteanul together with the priest Dumitru Capaciurea, driven by faith and much courage, picked up the relics and brought them to Cocos Monastery. Since then, the relics of the martyr saints are kept in a cherry tree canopy and once a year the saints are returned to the martyrdom crypt.  

The Basilica of Niculitel has many characteristics making it unique in the world The Martyr Saints Zotic, Atal, Camasie and Phillip of Niculitel are among the 36 martyr saints who suffered for Christ in our country from the end of the 3rd century to the beginning of the 4th century in the old fortress of Noviodunum (today Isacea).  

The other two martyrs are even older which makes this crypt to be one of the oldest settlements dedicated to the cult of martyr saints.  

The uniqueness is also given by the fact that the relics of the saints were discovered intact but also by the way in which the crypt and the apse are oriented, towards North-East and not towards the East as the precepts stipulated.


Elena Radu




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