Constanța – a notable port and resort of Romania
The legend regarding the city of Constanța talks about Jason, who arrived here along with the Argonauts after they found the Golden Fleece. The Tomis settlement, how it was called in ancient times, was founded in 6th century by Greek colonists from Miletos, then later overcomed by Romans in 71 BC and renamed later on as Constantiana by Constantine the Great, the Roman Emperor to honor his sister. Located at the crossroad of important commercial routes, the city did not flourished till 13th century when Italian merchants had a great influence in the Black Sea area but it’s peak period declined after the invasion of Turks and became a fishing village.
Constanța will become the main port of Romania after the War of Independence (1877-1878) when it was included along with the Dobrogea region in the Kingdom of Romania. In this period it is built the Saligny bridge from Cernavoda, lessening the traffic from and to the shore and creating the perfect circumstance to opening the maritime line to Istanbul (the Oriental line). Also, after the War of Independence, Romania institutes its first Maritime Service here. Moreover, during the 19th century King Carol I decided to revive under his supervision the port and resort of Constanța. During the First and Second World War, Constanța had a great strategic importance, but it was heavily damaged during the First War by German and Bulgarian army forces.
Constanța is considered the third largest port in Europe and an important cultural, economic and entertainment center, famous for its archaeological artifacts which give the medieval city town center the ambiance of old times, combined with elements of modern society as shops, open-air restaurants, pubs and nightclubs.
One of the famous places for local meetings, Ovids’ Square can be recognized by the bronze statue representing the Latin poet Publius Ovidius Naso, who as history recalls, was exiled here by Emperor Augustus in 8th century A.D. This emblematic work of art was placed in Constanța in 1887 and it was made by the renowned Italian sculptor Ettore Ferari, the same artist who sculptured the Abraham Lincoln’s statue from Washington, U.S.A..
The Roman Mosaics
The approximately 9,150 sq ft of colored mosaics, archaeological vestiges from ancient workshops, warehouses, shops and the remains of Roman public baths are just remains of a vast commercial center once displayed on three levels which linked the upper part of the city with the harbor. It was built at the end of 4th century AD and served this purpose till 7th century.
The Genoese Lighthouse
This 7.9 m tall lighthouse was named in the memory of Genoese merchants who helped putting here the base of a flourishing sea trade settlement during the 13th century. It was built in 1860 by a company called Danubius and Black Sea.
Before the present construction of the Casino, between 1880-1902, there was a building with wooden structure in its place, designated for theater representations, ball and recreation events. The outstanding Art Nouveau architecture we can see today, is the work result of Daniel Renard and Petre Antonescu, realized in the interwar period. Some mortuary elements can be spotted among the decorations of the building, a reminder of the death of Daniel Renard’s 5 years daughter. These elements are inserted for example at the entrance and on the roof. The surrounding pedestrian area is famous for the beautiful view over the sea and romantic walks at sunset and sunrise.
The Great Mahmudiye Mosque
Another important touristic objective is the Mahmudiye Mosque from which 164 ft tower visitors can have a great overview of the old part of the town and harbor. Considered the first Romanian civil construction made out of concrete, the mosque was erected in 1910 by King Carol I and represents the seat of Mufti, a spiritual leader of the Muslims who live along the coastline. Beside the Byzantine and Romanian architectural components, visitors can see inside also one of the largest Persian carpet with a weight of 1,080 pounds (490 kg). It is a gift from Sultan Abdul Hamid and it was crafted at Hereke Handicraft Centre in Turkey, a famous town nearby Istanbul, known for the fine hand made carpets.
Saint Peter & Paul Orthodox Cathedral
The construction of the cathedral lasted 2 years, between 1883 and 1885 and was later restored in 1951 due to the damages it took during the WWII. The interior of the cathedral displays a mix of elements of neo-Byzantine style illustrated by murals and Romanian style of Ion Mincu illustrated by objects like chandeliers or iconostasis.