Oltenița stands across the Danube from the Bulgarian city of Tutrakan.
Excavations on Gumelnița hill near the city revealed a Neolithic settlement dating from the 4th millennium BC.
The first mention of a town bearing the name Oltenița appears in 1515 during the reign of Neagoe Basarab.
During the Crimean War the Ottomans attempted to cross the river at this point and inflicted heavy losses on the Russians.
In the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–1878, Oltenița was an important crossing point into Bulgaria for Romanian troops called to aid the Russian Army during the siege of the Pleven stronghold.
During World War I, the garrisons of Oltenița and Turtucaia engaged in numerous artillery skirmishes. The spot was also chosen by allied German and Bulgarian troops for their invasion of Romania. The subsequent Battle of Turtucaia ended in a significant defeat for the Romanian Army.