The city is situated in a terrain which is low in the west, and on the riverbanks of Danube reaches 4 meters in height. East of Tutrakan begins the high and flat part of the Dobrudzha highlands, which has an average altitude of 140 meters, and the altitude on the riverbank reaches 28 meters.
The Danube coast from Tutrakan to Silistra is crossed by valleys, many trenches with shallow creeks and short rivers. The villages of Pozharevo, Dunavets, Dolno Ryahovo and Malak Preslavets are situated in such trenches. On the coast there are gradual slopes which form the low terrace – Riverside. The riverside slopes and gullies are covered with forests, and the low, flat terraces are planted with vineyards and orchards.
The Dobrudzha highland, in turn, is a plain, crossed by a multitude of dry valleys, where once deep rivers would flow. The most interesting of them is the dry canyon of the once huge river Demir baba. It flowed from the Ludogorie region and into the Danube under the village Staro selo. In some of the gullies there are springs where small rivers flow from and into the small dams near Tutrakan, Antimovo, Stefan Karadzha, Sokol, Zafirovo and Kolarovo.
The terrain of Tutrakan and its surroundings has rich and fertile black earth. Today, it gives rich harvest of cereals and industrial crops – wheat and barley, maize and sunflower, beans, sugar beets, tobacco, hemp, soy and vegetables; of fruit – grapes, apricots, peaches and apples.
It’s shaped as an amphitheater on the tall steep right coast of the Danube River, the town is facing north. Steep streets run from the coast up to the highland – the other half of the town.
The area where the town and its surroundings are has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Important archeological artefacts from the Paleolithic age have been discovered in Tutrakan, Dunavets and Pozharevo; and from the Neolithic and Eolith there are the village mounds near Belitsa and not far from Tutrakan. Other interesting archeological items, discovered during excavations, include a stone votive tablet with the image of Hecate, bronze items – jewelry, tools, weapons, etc. They indicate traces of active life in the area, especially during the antiquity. The first signs of Romans dates back to year 15 b.c., when the land between Hemus (Stara Planina) and River Danubius (Danube) to the Black Sea. During the time of the Roman emperor Vespasian (69-98) forts were built (“guard towers”) near the villages Nova Cherna, Staro selo, Tutrakan and Pozharevo. During the time of Emperor Ulpius Trajan (98*117) in the area of Tutrakan a village was formed with a rank of vicus (village), and a castle was build, called Transmariska. It was a key post on the road from Singidunum (Belgrade) for Constantinople (Istanbul). It was put on epigraphic monuments (stone inscriptions) and all the maps (itinerary chart)
Archaeological excavations and findings prove that the Slavs settled in Tutrakan and its surrounding in the second half of the VI century, and inhabited ancient settlements. During the First Bulgarian Empire the Slav-Bulgarian settlements village of Nova Cherna, Staro Selo, Dunavets and Pozharevo were surrounded by earth fortification / “gradishte /. During the time of King Shishman (1371-1393) Tutrakan was a fortress – a stronghold in the defense of the northern border. There are important findings from that time near the villages of Nova Cherna, Staro Selo, Pozharevo al., showing that Bulgarians made a living mostly with agriculture and fishing, and also crafts were developed. The Ottoman invasion in the 80 years of the XIV century tragically interrupted the lives of many Bulgarian towns, and hordes of invaders reached the walls of Tutrakan, threatening the town. In 1388 Tutrakan falls into Turkish hands and turns into a small village, which is then forgotten two centuries only to be mentioned by foreign travelers in the XVII-XVIII century and noted in Ottoman documents. The violence and torture of the enslavers did not break the strong Bulgarian spirit. The villages Star Smil (Staro selo), Belitsa, Kadakyoy (Malak Preslavets) and Tutrakan survive as strongholds of Bulgarian culture, with hopes for a rescue, which comes with the Russian mission (Grandfather Ivan). The population of these villages takes part in the Russian-Turkish wars in XVIII-XIX century. They are the first to welcome the Russian soldiers in 1773, 1810, 1829, and 1854, who hold Tutrakan for several months and liberate it.
In the past the local population made a living of agriculture and cattle, as well as fishing. Of the crafts, the best developed were homespun tailoring, blacksmithing, kundurdzhiystvoto, gemidzhiystvoto / boat building / and pottery. Also, in Tutrakan there were furriers, brick makers, grocers, merchants, etc. which speaks of an intense economy in town. Good trade relations were established with Austro-Hunagry, where cereals, foods and boats were exported, and groceries were imported. When the fight for cultural-national identity began, in 1862 in Tutrakan a Bulgarian school was opened. The teacher Nedelcho Balkanski founded a school called “Vozrozhdennie” (Rennesaince) in 1873. Bulgarian intellectuals also opened schools in Staro selo, Varnentsi, Pozharevo and Belitsa. The people of Tutrakan also helped the bands of Panayot Hitov and Tanyo Stoyanov to pass the Danube from Romania to Bulgaria. Many people from Tutrakan, Staro selo, Pozharevo and other villages became rebels in the liberation Russian-Turkish war in 1877-1878.
After the Liberation Tutrakan shows economic and cultural progress. The main occupation of the town’s population and the people in the villages becomes agriculture, viticulture while simultaneously some crafts were developed – blacksmithing, furriery, cooperage, shoemaking, saddlery, etc. The harbor aided the progress in trades and Tutrakan establishes external trade relations with Europe, Asia, and Africa. It becomes famous as a center of the Danube fishermen and crafty boat makers, as well as with the “Danube watermills”. Fishing boats were exported for Serbia, Hungary Austria, Romania and others. Here, in 1897, 2297 people are registered as professional fishermen, and in the beginning of our century there are 1437 fishermen families, who inhabit the “Fishing district” on the river coast. Tutrakan fishermen are the sole masters of the fishing on the Danube and the nearby lakes.
Tutrakan and its surroundings have a miserable and tragic fate after the 20’s of the XX century, as they fall under foreign rule. Villages became deserted. Although there is still agriculture, the rich harvest is taken from foreign rulers, while the people live in poverty and injustice.
Tutrakan is the first Bulgarian town on the Danube where on September 4th, 1944, a Soviet boat ports and Soviet soldiers set foot.
After September 9th, 1944, Tutrakan and its surrounding begin to prosper.
Monuments of the liberty and memorials in Tutrakan, Staro selo, Belitsa and Shumentsi remind of heroes and events, that happened in Dobrudzha.