Founded in 600BC on the Black Sea coast, the city of Constanța is Romania‘s oldest continuously inhabited city. Home to the biggest port of the Black Sea, it is full of architectural and archeological treasures, unique museums and a symbol of cultural and religious diversity. Here are the top things to see and do when in town.
One of the most iconic buildings in Romania, the casino is one of the finest and most exuberant examples of Art Deco architecture in the country. Inaugurated in 1910, it is located on the city’s promenade, and has a long and tumultuous history. Today closed and pending renovation, in its heyday it received a visit by Nicholas II of Russia just before WWI broke out, and served as a hospital during the war.
The long list of Constanța’s remarkable architectural landmarks includes the House with Lions, built by Armenian merchant Dicran Emirzian for his family to plans by famed Romanian architect Ion Berindei. The edifice was built in the style of Italian new-Reneissance and features a show-stopping façade with imposing columns topped by statues of lions.
By tradition, Constanța is a multicultural city. Many and varied communities have thrived alongside each other for decades, and this is best reflected in the density of diverse places of worship. In the Peninsula neighbourhood there are no fewer than eight buildings pertaining to different religions within an area smaller than one square kilometre.
The city has a long and rich history. Founded by Greek colonists, who named it Tomis, it entered the rule of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Bulgarian Empire and later became a part of the Ottoman Empire. Start your exploration at the city’s Museum of National History and Archeology and continue on the city’s old centre, full of clues about its glorious past.
There’s no better place to spend an afternoon enjoying the relaxed vibe of Constanta than at one of the restaurants and cafes in the city’s Old Centre. The cobblestone streets also make a perfect spot for long walks.
Seafood lovers will enjoy their stay in the city, as here you can sample the freshest fish and shellfish dishes in a variety of combinations. Drinks are special too, so put aside your cappuccino for a while and experience the local coffee, made to the same traditional recipe since the time of the Ottoman Empire.
Dating from the 4th century, the Roman edifice with mosaic is one of the most spectacular attractions dating from the times when the city was knows as Tomis. Once part of a complex comprising three terraces, it connected the old port to the rest of the city. Once featuring 2,000 square meters of beautiful mosaic, it has retained a little less than half, which can still be admired today.
There’s no better place to discover the poetry of Roman poet Ovid, a contemporary of Horace and Virgil, who was exiled here from the Roman Empire by Emperor Augustus. Known for his master work Metamorphoses, his poetry is moving, especially his meditation on love, Ars Amatoria.
The city has one of the oldest aquariums in the country, opened in 1958. It features over 100 species, including jellyfish, starfish and seahorses.
Constanța boasts a number of large urban beaches, which even at the height of summer can be less crowded than those in nearby resorts. The newest of them was widened recently and offers 20 hectares of fine yellow sand to enjoy in every season.