Sulina Maritime Cemetery, the secret story of the Greek pirate’ tomb
Sulina Maritime Cemetery is a unique place in Europe. In a funerary complex divided into several areas, Christians of various denominations, Hebrew and Muslims, are buried together. Sulina was the last harbor for dozens of foreigners who now sleep their eternal sleep in a unique place in the world – the International Cemetery.
In the past, Sulina was a large marina, a cosmopolitan city and hosted the European Danube Commission’s headquarters. In 1870 it became ‘Porto Franco’, meaning a free port, absolved from customs duty and having a special treatment. Many of the graves here are resting places for some English sailors or just for employees of the Danube Commission. Among them there are few graves of some Greek princes and even the tomb of Princess Catherine Moruzi, granddaughter of Prince of Moldavia, Ioan Sturdza.
Many of these graves hide exquisite stories; therefore Sulina locals call the cemetery the ‘living graveyard’. The tombs of the Croat Perusko or the one of the Italian Luca Sessa were made of the rock brought in Sulina by the same vessels they used to sail.
As, you might not know that, for over 300 years, Sulina has been a hideaway for the feared Greek or Maltese pirates who plundered ships coming from the West. According to primaria-sulina.ro, one of these pirates, George Kontoguris, is buried here. Tthe famous pirate sign – the skull and crossbones-was engraved on its funeral stone. His life and death are wreathed in mystery and legends. Locals say the pirate robbed hundreds of ships, therefore he was very rich; yet he died alone and pauper. Another legend says the pirate buried a treasure somewhere on the beach and some adventurers are still looking for that place. Others try to find clues on the gravestone: another local legend says that in order to properly read the inscription on the tomb of the pirate, the rock must be watered early in the morning and then left for a while to dry, until certain letters will show up. His grave is the only one registered in Europe as belonging to a pirate.
Two other graves here tell the sad love story between two adolescents who came from rival families, a sort of local Romeo and Juliet romance. William Webster was captain on Adalia ship and his sweetheart, Margaret Ann Pinca, secretly followed him on the ship, disguised as a sailor, just to be with him. The two lovers died in 1868 in a shipwreck and they were buried side by side in Sulina.