All rights reserved to "The Three From East".
Constanta - General Information
Location: Eastern Romania (County: Constanta)
Size: 22.4 sq. miles (58 sq. kilometers)
Elevation: 0 -190 ft. (0-60 meters)
Inhabited since: 700 BC
First documented: 300 BC (Tomis)
CONSTANTA - City Highlights
Situated at the crossroads of several commercial routes, Constanta lies on the western coast of the Black Sea, 185 miles from the Bosphorus Strait. An ancient metropolis and Romania's largest sea port, Constanta traces its history some 2,500 years. Originally called Tomis, legend has it that Jason landed here with the Argonauts after finding the Golden Fleece.
Founded by Greek colonists from Miletos in the 6th century BC, Tomis was conquered by the Romans in 71 BC and renamed Constantiana by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in honor of his sister. The name was shortened to Constanta during the Ottoman era. During the 13th century, Italy, especially Genoese merchants, dominated the Black Sea and Constanta flourished, only to decline two centuries later under Turkish rule.
Fine mansions and hotels were built in the 19th century when King Carol I decided to revive Constanta as a port and seaside resort.
Constanta is the fourth largest port in Europe, ranked just after Rotterdam, Antwerp and Marseille.
The third largest city in Romania, Constanta is now an important cultural and economic centre, worth exploring for its archaeological treasures and the atmosphere of the old town centre. Its historical monuments, ancient ruins, grand Casino, museums and shops, and proximity to beach resorts make it the focal point of Black Sea coast tourism. Open-air restaurants, nightclubs and cabarets offer a wide variety of entertainment.
While in the area, you can visit traditional villages, vineyards, ancient monuments and the Danube Delta, a bird-lover's paradise.
Constanta is more than just the entry point to the Black Sea coast. It is a place with a long and interesting past, attested by its many Roman vestiges, historic buildings, facades and mosques that color the Old City Centre.
Designed by the sculptor Ettore Ferrari in 1887, the statue dedicated to the Roman poet, Ovidius Publius Naso, gives name to this square. Emperor Augustus exiled Ovid to Tomis in 8 AD.
The Roman Mosaics
A vast complex on three levels once linked the upper town to the harbor. Today, only about a third of the original edifice remains, including more than 9,150 sq ft of colorful mosaics. Built toward the end of the 4th century AD and developed over the centuries, it was the city's commercial centre until the 7th century. Archeological vestiges point to the existence of workshops, warehouses and shops in the area. Remains of the Roman public baths can still be seen nearby. Aqueducts brought water six miles to the town.
The Genoese Lighthouse
Soaring 26 feet, this lighthouse was built in 1860 by the Danubius and Black Sea Company to honor Genoese merchants who established a flourishing sea trade community here in the 13th century.
During the 1914 visit of the Russian Imperial Family, the casino was host to a royal gala. Despite diplomatic negotiations, Grand Duchess Olga refused the proposed marriage to Prince Carol of Romania and the Russians sailed away. The Grand Duchess was later killed by the Bolsheviks along with the rest of her family.
Completed between the two World Wars in art nouveau style according to the plans of the architects, Daniel Renard and Petre Antonescu, the Casino features sumptuous architecture and a wonderful view of the sea. The pedestrian area around the Casino is a sought-after destination for couples and families, especially at sunset.
The House with Lions
Blending pre-Romantic and Genovese architectural styles, this late 19th century building features four columns adorned with imposing sculptured lions. During the 1930s, its elegant salons hosted the Constanta Masonic Lodge.
The Archaeology Park
The park houses columns and fragments of 3rd and 4th century buildings and a 6th century tower.
St. Peter & Paul Orthodox Cathedral
Constructed in Greco-Roman style between 1883 and 1885, the church was severely damaged during WWII and was restored in 1951. The interior murals display a neo-Byzantine style combined with Romanian elements best observed in the iconostasis and pews, chandeliers and candlesticks (bronze and brass alloy), all designed by Ion Mincu and completed in Paris.
The Great Mahmudiye Mosque
Built in 1910 by King Carol I, the mosque is the seat of the Mufti, the spiritual leader of the 55,000 Muslims (Turks and Tatars by origin) who live along the coast of the Dobrogea region. The building combines Byzantine and Romanian architectural elements, making it one of the most distinctive mosques in the area. The centerpiece of the interior is a large Persian carpet, a gift from Sultan Abdul Hamid. Woven at the Hereche Handicraft Centre in Turkey, it is one of the largest carpets in Europe, weighing 1,080 pounds. The main attraction of the mosque is the 164-ft minaret (tower) which offers a stunning view of the old downtown and harbor. Five times a day, the muezzin climbs 140 steps to the top of the minaret to call the faithful to prayer.
This mosque was the first reinforced concrete building in Romania. In time, the steel-concrete rusted; restoration of the tower and cupola was completed in 1959.
The Hunchiar Mosque
Built in 1867 - 1868 by order of Sultan Abdul Azis, the mosque was constructed of sandstone taken from an Ottoman bridge which had been destroyed in 1828. Its architecture reflects Moorish style and the interior still preserves original Oriental ornaments.
St. Mina Orthodox Church
Built by master carpenters from the Maramures region in authentic Romanian style, this is the biggest wooden church in Romania, 85 ft long and 40 ft wide topped by a 140-ft tower.
St. Anthony Roman-Catholic Church
Dating from 1937, this church was built after architect Romano de Simon's plans. The structure is shaped like a Roman basilica, specific to the northern part of Italy. The buttress and geometrical motifs are reminiscent of the 13th century Romanic style.
Established in 1961, the Art Museum exhibits more than 7,300 Romanian contemporary art masterpieces - paintings, sculptures, ceramics, china, upholstery and furniture. A century of Romanian art is on display, ranging from the works of Theodor Aman and Nicolae Grigorescu to those of Ion Jalea and Corneliu Baba. Here, you will have the opportunity to view the Black Sea and Constanta through the eyes of the artists who portrayed them.
Folk Art Museum
Some 16,000 exhibits from all ethnographic regions of Romania are on display here. Folk costumes, jewelry, interiors of traditional peasant homes and household items illustrate the traditional way of life in various parts of the country. On the ground floor, a valuable collection of icons painted on glass dates from the 18th and 19th centuries. Folk arts and crafts are available at the museum gift shop.
Ion Jalea Museum
The museum features works in bronze, marble, stone and gypsum by Ion Jalea, one of the forefathers of modern and contemporary sculpture.
National History & Archeology Museum
An impressive collection of artifacts from Greek, Roman, and Daco-Roman civilizations is on display illustrating the history of Dobrogea from the Stone Age to modern days. Greek and Roman objects can be found on the main floor. Two statues, one of the "Glykon - The Fantastic Snake," dating from the 3rd century BC, and the other of "Goddess Fortuna and Pontos," god of the Black Sea, are considered protectors of the city and port and are the highlights of the collection.
Romanian Navy Museum
Organized chronologically in four sections, the museum features charts, moldings, ancient and modern boat models, navigation instruments, documents and photographs. You can find a dug-out canoe made from a single tree trunk, a navigation case from the 16th century, a mid-17th century celestial globe made in Venice and models of Greek triremes. The open-air exhibition, displaying life-size anchors, propellers, engines, surface and anti-aircraft gun mounts, offers a wonderful panorama of the Constanta harbor.
Opened in 1958, the Constanta Aquarium houses representatives of 60 species of fish from the Black Sea and the Danube Delta, as well as from the seaside lake. The most significant is the collection of sturgeons, one of the largest in the world.
Two sea lions, John and Lorry, and the veteran star dolphin, Mark, will put on their best "moves" for you.
The Romanian Black Sea Resorts
The Romanian Black Sea coast is home to a wide range of summer resorts tailored to suit most tastes and ages, from small children to those seeking health-spa treatments. The sandy sea bottom slopes gently away from the shore, there are no dangerous currents and the sea is almost tideless. In the summer, days are warm and long with an average of 11 hours of sunshine. A swath of gold-sand beaches stretches from Constanta to the Bulgarian border, and visitors will encounter resorts named after mythological gods and goddesses, such as Eforie, Jupiter, Neptun, Olimp, Saturn, Venus and Mangalia.
A favorite weekend get-away for locals, Mamaia is one of the most sought-after resorts on the Black Sea coast. A narrow stretch of fine-sand beach between the Black Sea and Lake Siutghiol ("Lake of Milk" in Turkish), Mamaia boasts numerous hotels, a casino, sporting facilities (water sports, biking, tennis, beach games), and hip nightclubs and restaurants located within 100 feet of the sea. You can spend the mornings cooling down at the beach or at the Aqua Magic Park, located at the very entrance of the resort, and the afternoons taking in the view of the Black Sea by riding the Telegondola (Cable Car). Between Mamaia and Constanta, you can stroll through Satul de Vacanta amusement park, featuring rides, a bowling alley, an open-air bazaar and several restaurants. At times crowded, the park is a local come-together with a charm of its own. The Summer Theatre of Mamaia is the venue for the annual Romanian Pop Music Festival and various other shows.
Built on the site where the city of Callatis stood 2,400 years ago and where ancient stone tombs, statues of gods and other artifacts have been found, Mangalia provides treatments for afflictions related to the kidneys, digestive and nervous systems, skin and liver. Its name comes from the Byzantine word Pangalia, meaning "the most beautiful," and it developed as a spa resort after the Second World War.
While in Mangalia, you can visit the Callatis Archeological Museum, the ruins of the Callatis Fortress (7th century BC), the Syrian Basilica and the 16th century Esmahan Sultan Mosque, the oldest mosque in Romania.
Histria Fortress & Lake Sinoe
Heading north from Constanta towards Tulcea, you'll pass through Istria. Four miles east of the village, on the shores of Lake Sinoe, is the ruined Greek-Roman city of Histria. Histria Fortress, the Pompeii of Romania, was the oldest Greek settlement in Romania. Founded in the 7th Century BC by Greeks from Miletos, the richest city in Ionia (Asia Minor), this trading post soon became the main Greek port on the Black Sea. The city thrived for fourteen centuries, prospering under Roman and Byzantine occupation until invading forces wiped it off the map in the 7th century AD.
The lost city features remains of Aphrodite's Temple, the Temple of Zeus, Roman baths and other public buildings from the Roman-Byzantine period. The nearby museum (Open: Tue. - Sun 9:00am - 8:00pm; Closed Mon.) houses a collection of coins, ceramic items and other vestiges of the great civilizations that thrived on the Black Sea coast, or Pontus Euxin's, at it was called in ancient times.
Near Histria Fortress, you can visit one of the most beautiful lagoons in the country, Lake Sinoe, an extension of Lake Razim. The lake makes for an excellent bird watching site; 267 species have been recorded. The area is a stretch of marshy land and reedbeds between the freshwater Lake Nuntasi and the brackish lagoon of Lake Sinoe (the last one was open to the sea until 1960). Lake Razim is popular for bird-watching, especially in November when thousands of Red-Breasted Geese arrive from the Arctic.
A quaint fishing village, Jurilovca was established by the Lipovani fishermen in the 18th century.
At Capul Dolosman, to the east of Jurilovca, you can admire vestiges of a 6th century BC Greek colony, the oldest antique habitat on Romanian territory, mentioned for the first time by Hecateus from Millet (6th -5th centuries BC). "Capul Dolosman" is one of the strictly protected areas of the Delta Biosphere Reserve. This is popular spot for bird-watching, especially in November when thousands of Red-Breasted Geese arrive from the Arctic Circle. Nearby you can explore Lake Razim, once a bay on the Black Sea knows as the Gulf of Halmyris. A thin coastal strop of land encloses the lake from the open waters. In Jurilovca you can rent a boat to take you across to Gura Portitei (1 ½ hours away) on the shores of Lake Golovita.
Former Roman, then Byzantine and Genoese fortress, Enisala is today a village stretching between lakes Babadag and Razim. Here you can visit a traditional fisherman's house converted into a museum displaying colorful tapestries and folk art.
Enisala Peasant Museum
About 1 mile north, overlooking Lake Razim, are the vestiges of the Heracleea citadel built by Genoese merchants in late 13th century, conquered by Sultan Mehmet I in 1417 (who renamed it "o Yeni Sale") and finally abandoned by the 16th century.
This is Europe's prime birdwatching area and you are likely to spot white-fronted and red-breasted geese, terns, waders, pelicans, herons and warblers.
The town of Babadag, known during the Roman rule as Vicus Novium, was first documented in 1263. Between 1262 and 1264 some 12,000 Turks, led by Sara Saltuk Baba, settled around Babadag at the request of Byzantine emperor Michael III. Between 1677 and 1678, the residence of Pasha of Silistra was established here to better observe the troop movements of the Russians, with whom Turkey was at war.
The name of the town comes from Baba (meaning father in Arabic) and Dagh (meaning mountain). Legend has it that a few centuries ago, here lived a shepherd called Korun Baba. One day, while leading his flock, he met some Turkish monks who asked him of Sari Saltuk's tomb. The shepherd answered that he knows nothing of this tomb, but that he noticed that on the mountain's peak, his sheep avoid a place covered with stones. The monks started digging that place, and at sunset found the bones of the saint. Then the monks raised the mausoleum that can still be seen standing today. Upon the shepherd's death, the locals buried him close to the Muslim saint. Legend also has it that the very place where the shepherd rested, the earth split in two, in order to mark the tomb.
The Museum of Oriental Art in Babadag is worth paying a visit. Its collections feature wooden, ivory and mother-of-pearl artifacts, religious items, daggers, tea services, a splendid bridal gown sawn with gold thread, Turkish dolls, Siraz, Sirme , and Anatolia carpets, and Kashmir shawls said to have taken a quarter of century to make.
Other places of interest here include the Ali-Gazi-Pasha Mosque, the oldest in Romania (1522), and the nearby Kalaigi water spring, in which the pilgrims from all over the Balkans come to bathe their feet. Visitors are also shown the ruined tomb of Ali-Gazi-Pasha, who long ago, was the terror of the region and possessed a harem of eight hundred captive women.
Tulcea & the Danube Delta
Visit Tulcea, one of the oldest cities in Romania, and continue with an exploration of the Danube Delta, one of Europe's leading wildlife sanctuaries. The Delta is a 2,200-square-mile wildlife reserve designated by UNESCO as a 'Reservation of the Biosphere'. Its tree-fringed lakes, reed islands, marshes and oak forests are home to more than 3,400 animal species, along with over a thousand varieties of plant life. The Delta's waters teem with some 160 species of fresh- and salt-water fish. Bird-watchers will be especially enthralled here, with opportunities to spot more than 300 species of migratory and permanent birds including eagles, egrets, vultures, geese, cranes, ibises, cormorants, swans and pelicans.
More than 300 days of sunshine a year, long and warm autumns and cool winds from the Black Sea make this region ideal for the production of sweet dessert wines such as late harvest Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. At the Murfatlar Vineyard, you can enjoy traditional dishes from the Dobrogea region and sample some of the finest wines, such as the award-winning Lacrima lui Ovidiu, 3 Hectare Limited Edition, Sec de Murfatlar and Rai de Murfatlar, while taking in the picturesque landscape from the wine cellar's terrace. Complete the tour with a visit to the Vine and Wine Museum, located near the wine cellar. On display, you will find ancient Greek and Roman amphorae and an impressive collection of wine presses, proof of Dobrogea's noble wine-making tradition.
Of great significance to the birth of the Romanian nation, the Roman complex of Tropaeun Traiani in Adamclisi was built in AD 109 by the well-known architect, Apollodor of Damascus, to celebrate the victory of Rome over Dacia. Similar to Trajan's Column in Rome, the monument features scenes of battle between the Roman and Dacian armies. The monument itself has been completely renovated and all the old elements forming the complex were moved inside a nearby museum for preservation.