Mircea Dinescu on Port Cetate

The Culture Port Cetate rose from the ashes of the former port of grains which had come into existence around 1880, back in the days when wheat couldn’t sprout out of asphalt the way it does today, and the Viennese croissant was baked with the very flour coming by paddle-steamer all the way from Cetate.
In 1945 the port was closed down and its offices converted into barracks for the border patrol, while the wheat grain unexpectedly changed its adventurous course Moscow-wards. The grain merchants registered with the port, about one thousand of them, including large numbers of Greeks and Jews, took their cue to emigrate or alternately languished away in communist prisons.
After the revolution of December 1989, the main office building of the port, designed by Italian architects, was vandalized by the locals and demoted to a shed accommodating twelve porkers and two cows.
That’s what it looked like when I happened to stumble across it—sans doors, sans glass, sans roof, sans everything, with the forlorn looks of a dame of noble birth gone to seed and uttering a mute protest bringing to mind the lament of a Romanian prince’s wife ravished by Sinan Pasha’s bashi-basouks: 'Alas, alack, the heathens have disgraced me!'
With the money I made by selling the shares I owned in a political satire magazine going by the name of 'Academia Caţavencu', where I used to contribute a weekly editorial for eight years running, I was able, in 1997, to purchase the ruin and have it transformed into a haven for the arts. In the absence of grain, we’ve been trying to fill our barns with sculptors, writers, painters and musicians, and, as in the year 2000 the Romanian government was all set to market the idea of a theme park in Transylvania—Dracula Park—we retaliated polemically, for the sake of argument, by starting an Angel Park on the banks of the Danube, an area strewn with statues of angels, assuming that Romania was not the exclusive seat of the devil—angels, too, must have haunted it, at least marginally.
The people of Cetate, located just across the river from Bulgaria and only a few kilometers’ distance from Serbia, claim that local cocks crow in three languages—Serbian, Bulgarian, and Romanian—which makes the idea of a multinational port of culture fit the location like a glove.
Our pottery kilns are competing with ovens where rams are roasted, courtesy of the farm run by a poet who’s lost his wits to husbandry, while the heated tirades of foreign authors invited to participate in the debates are quenched with the wine coming straight from Dinescu’s vineyards. All things considered, next to Rimbaud the slave merchant, Dinescu the wine merchant is but a babe in arms. So have no qualms about gracing his humble abode with your presence.
I do assure you that all artistic events taking place in Cetate will be faithfully attended, as customary, by the neighbouring woods, the river Danube, the sparrows and the crows—whose propensity for culture is already proverbial.
An old Danubian port for shipping grains which has been restored and given a cultural destination, through the activities of the Foundation for Poetry ‘Mircea Dinescu’. More recently, after converting the old administrative buildings of the port into comfortable bungalows and building a modern, fully equipped kitchen and a mini-hotel, the site also became open for land and river-cruise tourism.
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Organizes residence programs for writers and artists, translation workshops, film-makers’ conventions and pottery camps; hosts exhibitions, theatre and music performances, and annual events such as the SoNoRo Interferente chamber music workshops, or the Divan Film Festival, a unique event dedicated to the cinema and the culinary traditions of the Balkans. Learn More
All our food comes from natural, locally grown ingredients, and is inspired by old Romanian ‘boyar’ cuisine, based on recipes collected over the years, updated, and inventively revived by poet Mircea Dinescu, chief troubadour gourmet. The wines come from our winery at Galicea Mare, which is supplied with several varieties of noble grapes from the Galicea Mare and Cetate vineyards.Learn More
Situated at a distance of 3 km from the village and surrounded by forests, Port Cetate is an ideal location for the organization of meetings, conferences, workshops, and teambuilding activities, but also for private parties and short family holidays. We have 18 comfortable rooms with bathroom, as well as 3 suites. The port can accommodate around 40 persons at a time. Learn More

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Thought of the day

Let me just have the run of some small-town gazette
in a run-down wooden shed with a dingy old sign
and within three days all towns will reek of vanilla
and of wide-open harbours
Mircea Dinescu (Ei?! - 1983)