Situated at the crossroads of several commercial routes, Constanţa lies on the western coast of the Black Sea, 185 miles (298 km) from the Bosphorus Strait. An ancient metropolis and Romania’s largest sea port, Constanţa 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.
One of the largest cities in Romania, Constanţa is now an important cultural and economic center, worth exploring for its archaeological treasures and the atmosphere of the old town center. 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. Regional attractions include traditional villages, vineyards, ancient monuments and the Danube Delta, the best preserved delta in Europe.
 Main sights
Designed by the sculptor Ettore Ferrari in 1887, the statue dedicated to the Roman poet, Publius Ovidius Naso, gives name to this square. Emperor Augustus exiled Ovid to Tomis in 8 AD.
The Roman Mosaics (Edificul Roman cu Mozaic)
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 (850 m2) of colorful mosaics. Built toward the end of the 4th century AD and developed over the centuries, it was the city’s commercial center until the 7th century. Archaeological 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 (10 km) to the town.
The Genoese Lighthouse (Farul Genovez)
Soaring 26 feet (7.9 m), 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.
The Casino (Cazinoul)
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 (Casa cu Lei)
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 Constanţa Masonic Lodge.
The Archeology Park (Parcul Arheologic)
The park houses columns and fragments of 3rd and 4th century buildings and a 6th century tower.
Constructed in Greco-Roman style between 1883 and 1885, the church was severely damaged during World War II 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 (Moscheea Mare Mahmoud II)
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 Turkish carpet, a gift from Sultan Abdul Hamid. Woven at the Hereke Handicraft Center 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 (50 m) 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.
The Fantasio Theatre (Teatrul Fantasio)
Built in 1927 by Demostene Tranulis, a local philanthropist of Greek origin, this theatre used to be called “Tranulis” before 1947, after the name of its benefactor. It’s a fine building featuring elements of neoclassical architecture, located in the heart of the city, on Ferdinand Boulevard.
Constanţa (Romanian pronunciation: [konˈstant͡sa]; historical names: Tomis, Greek: Κωνστάντια or Konstantia, Turkish: Köstence, Bulgarian: Кюстенджа or Констанца) is the oldest living city in Romania, founded around 600 BC. The city is located in the Dobruja region of Romania, on the Black Sea coast. It is the capital of Constanţa County and the largest city in the region.
The city of Constanța is one of the most important in Romania, one of four roughly equal-size cities which rank after Bucharest. The Constanţa metropolitan area, founded in 2007, comprises 14 localities located at a maximum distance of 30 km (19 mi) from the city, and with 446,595 inhabitants it is the second largest metropolitan area in Romania, after Bucharest.
The Port of Constanţa has an area of 39.26 km2 (15.16 sq mi) and a length of about 30 km (19 mi). It is the largest port on the Black Sea, and one of the largest ports in Europe.
See also: History of Dobruja
Tomis (also called Tomi) was a Greek colony in the province of Scythia Minor on the Black Sea shore, founded around 600 BC for commercial exchanges with the local Getic populations. The name may likely be derived from Greek Τομή meaning cutpiece, section.
According to one myth dating from Antiquity, found in the Bibliotheca, it was founded by Aeetes:
“When Aeetes discovered the daring deeds done by Medea, he started off in pursuit of the ship; but when she saw him near, Medea murdered her brother and cutting him limb from limb threw the pieces into the deep. Gathering the child’s limbs, Aeetes fell behind in the pursuit; wherefore he turned back, and, having buried the rescued limbs of his child, he called the place Tomi.”
Another legend is recorded by Jordanes (after Cassiodorus), who ascribes the foundation of the city to a Getae queen (The origin and deeds of the Goths):
“After achieving this victory (against Cyrus the Great) and winning so much booty from her enemies, Queen Tomyris crossed over into that part of Moesia which is now called Lesser Scythia – a name borrowed from Great Scythia -, and built on the Moesian shore of the Black Sea the city of Tomi, named after herself.”
In 29 BC the Romans captured the region from the Odryses, and annexed it as far as the Danube, under the name of Limes Scythicus.
In AD 8, the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC-17) was banished here by Augustus, where he found his death eight years later. He laments his exile in Tomis in his poems: Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto. Tomis was “by his account a town located in a war-stricken cultural wasteland on the remotest margins of the empire”. A statue of Ovid stands in the Ovid Square (Piaţa Ovidiu) of Constanţa, in front of the History Museum (the former City Hall).
Constanţa panorama in 1910
The port of Constanţa in 1941
A number of inscriptions found in the city and its vicinity show that Constanţa lies where Tomis once stood. The city was afterwards included in the Province of Moesia, and, from the time of Diocletian, in Scythia Minor, of which it was the metropolis. After the split of the Roman Empire, Tomis fell under the rule of the Eastern Roman Empire. During Maurice’s Balkan campaigns, Tomis was besieged by the Avars in the winter of 597/598.
Tomis was later renamed to Constantiana in honour of Constantia, the half-sister of Constantine the Great (274-337). The earliest known usage of this name was “Κωνστάντια” (“Constantia”) in 950. The city lay at the seaward end of the Great Wall of Trajan, and has evidently been surrounded by fortifications of its own. After successively becoming part of the Bulgarian Empires, the independent principality of Dobrotitsa/Dobrotici and of Wallachia under Mircea I of Wallachia, Constanţa fell under the Ottoman rule around 1419.
A railroad linking Constanţa to Cernavodă was opened in 1860. In spite of damage done by railway contractors there are considerable remains of ancient masonry walls, pillars, etc. An impressive public building, thought to have originally been a port building, has been excavated, and contains the substantial remains of one of the longest mosaic pavements in the world. In 1878, after the Romanian War of Independence, Constanţa and the rest of Northern Dobruja were ceded by the Ottoman Empire to Romania. The city became Romania’s main seaport and transit point for much of Romania’s exports.
On October 22, 1916 (during World War I), the Central Powers (German, Turkish and Bulgarian troops) occupied Constanţa. According to the Treaty of Bucharest in May 1918, article 10.b (treaty which has never been ratified by Romania), Constanţa remained under the joint control of the Central Powers. Allied troops liberated the city in 1918 after the successful offensive on the Thessaloniki front knocked Bulgaria out of the war.
In the interwar years, the city became Romania’s main commercial hub, so that by the 1930s over half of the national exports were going through the port. During World War II, when Romania joined the Axis powers, Constanţa was one of the country’s main targets for the Allied bombers. While the town was left relatively undamaged, the port suffered extensive damage, recovering only in the early 1950s.
Mamaia, administratively a district of Constanţa
Mamaia, view towards Constanta
Constanţa is the administrative center of the county with the same name and the largest city in the EU Southeastern development region of Romania. The city is located on the Black Sea coast, having a beach length of 13 km. Mamaia, an administrative district of Constanţa, is the largest and most modern resort on the Romanian coast. Close around there are mineral springs and sea-bathing also attracts many visitors in summer.