Constanța – ethnic and religious mosaic
Duration: 2 hours and a half – 3 hours
Useful information: This route consists of Christian, Muslim and Jewish cult buildings, which can be visited in the peninsula of Constanța, the Old Town, as it is called. Distances between these stops are short and can be covered by foot. The last stop, for instance, is 750 meters away from the starting point, St. Peter and Paul Cathedral. No entrance fees are applied, except for the access to the minaret of Carol I Mosque, where a small, symbolic fee is requested. One should also have in mind that the Jewish synagogue can only be seen from the outside, since it is unsafe to enter it, due to its current condition. This route is ideal for visitors with not so much time at their disposal, and for those who have a limited budget. It is recommended to those who are interested in getting acquainted with and in experiencing the ethnic and religious cohabitation of the Dobrujan population.
Itinerary I starts with St. Peter and Paul Orthodox Cathedral, a great example of Christian architecture and art. Visitors can admire the inside walls painted with Christian themes, or the oak carved furniture and icons. It is maybe the most representaive piece of art and architecture for Christian Constanța. While still on Arhiepiscopiei street, visitors can take the first left street and then proceed on their right, on Nicolae Titulescu street, in order to see “St. Anthony of Padua” Roman-Catholic Church. It was built in the years 1935-1937 according to plans by architect Romano de Simon from Bucharest, on the place of a former chapel, built in 1885. It is the most important Roman-Catholic Church in Constanța, also pleasant for its architecture inspired by Romanic style, brick churches, built in the 13th century in northern Italy. Going further on Nicolae Titulescu street (which was the name of one of the greatest Romanian diplomats), after taking your first right you will be able to see Carol I built with Romanian state funding in 1910-1913, for the Muslim population of the city, which was an important component of the ethnic mosaic of Constanța, as well as for entire Dobruja region. It is also important due to some technical aspects: it is the first building made of reinforced concrete and brick ever built in Romania, due to inventor Gogu Constantinescu and following the plans of architect Victor Gh. Ştefănescu. After passing through Ovid square you may briefly pass by what is left of the Jewish Synagogue, which used to be the second representative of the mosaic religion in Constanța. The other synagogue no longer exists. After returning to Tomis streeet visitors can also see another example of islamic architecture: Hunchiar Mosque. A proof of the Armenian community still existing in Constanța is ”St. Mary” Armenian Church, which can be seen on Callatis street, just next to a beautiful Belvedere towards the Black Sea and Constanța Beaches. The tour ends with Metamorphosis Greek Orthodox Church built in 1865-1868 with Sultan Abdul Aziz’s acceptance and Greek community funding. Tourists may afterwards proceed to the promenade on the right side of the church, or even go to the beach, since the stairs that allow the access to the beach are on the right side of this promenade.
From ancient Tomis to modern Constanța – traces of urban history and archaeology
Duration: 2 hours
Useful information: This route comprises all the visible ancient monuments preserved in nowadays Constanța. Even if modern Constanța overlaps the ancient city, archaeologists were able to find and save some parts of monumental buildings, once belonging to Tomis. One can admire a part of the ancient street network, sections of the Roman-Byzantine fortification walls, examples of Roman-Byzantine monumental public architecture, as well as samples of Christian architecture. Information on other urban structures, currently preserved underground and inaccessible to visitors, are provided in the Museum for National History and Archaeology Constanța, along with a large variety of artifacts discovered in Tomis or other ancient and medieval cities in Dobruja. This route is recommended for tourists with at least 5 hours at their disposal, and can be covered by foot, in a sunny day. Entrance fees are applied only when visiting the Museum for National History and Archaeology Constanța and the Mosaic floored building. It is the perfect choice for those who enjoy walking and who are interested in archaeology and the stories that ancient stones are still whispering to those who pass nearby.
9 stops are recommended for Itinerary no. II. The first one, the closest to the entrance to the harbor, and the cruise ships terminal is the Cathedral Park, a very important urban archaeological site, situated next to St. Peter and Paul Orthodox Cathedral. Two perpendicular main ancient streets, as well as the complexes uncovered on each of their sides can be admired here. One can also see artifacts discovered here in the Museum for National History and Archaeology Constanța. The second stop should be the remains of a Christian Basilica preserved under Ibis Hotel, on Negru Vodă Street, the largest basilica discovered in Tomis (the ancient name of Constanța). Then, one should follow the Sea side on Mircea cel Bătrân Street, until one reaches the Main City Gate, on its left side. It was built at the beginning of the 4th century AD, when many urban features of Tomis were changed and renewed. It is also important due to its special feature: the poterna (tunnel under the left tower). The next stop is the Archaeological Park lounged by the Roman-Byzantine fortification wall, situated on one side of the White house of Constanța, where the City Hall and the County Hall have their premises. The Park bears this name due to the fact that it was organized next to the remains of the Roman-Byzantine fortification wall, built in the 4th century AD, in order to shelter a district which functioned outside the Early Roman walls, in an open, unprotected area. Besides this monument, preserved in situ, other ancient monumental exhibits have been placed in several areas of this park: stone sarcophagi, columns, other architectural elements, large ceramic supply vessels etc. Also, next to the Butcher’s tower, on a wall of a modern building, one can admire a map of Dobruja with ancient cities marked on it, and in front of it, the bust of Vasile Pârvan, one of the greatest Romanian archaeologists who excavated the Butcher’s tower in 1915-1916. Another interesting feature of the Archaeological Park is the Statue of Victory, placed in an open area, facing the Sea and Constanța Harbor. After leaving the Park, towards the entrance of the harbor, where the tour started, we recommend 4 more places to visit. The Ruins of a tower of the Early Roman fortification wall are the closest to the Archaeological Park. Afterwards, a visit to the Museum for National History and Archaeology Constanța is indicated, in order to see artefacts discovered in all the places visited before. Also, when exiting the museum, to its right side you may proceed towards the Mosaic floored building, which is the most important building of this type discovered in Romania. It was built at the beginning of the 4th century AD and it has a beautiful colorful mosaic placed on the floor of its upper level. After descending to the lower floor of this building one should take the left path towards the Roman Baths – Lentiarion, another impressive ancient building. Its name comes from an inscription written on the upper stone frame of a door leading into a small chamber under the staircase, which informs about the utility of this room. It seems it has been the place where the linen sheets were kept. This edifice was probably built in the 3rd century AD, or later, when the Mosaic floored edifice was built. The last stop on this route is right in front of the entrance no. 1 to the Constanța Harbor, and the passengers’ terminal is a Christian Basilica, of which only the apse is still visible today, as well as rests of an earlier rectangular complex, overlapped by this basilica.
Bits of Art, Architecture and Culture in a Commercial City Port
Duration: It depends on the interest each visitor or group of visitors have for different museums. An estimative recommendation reaches at least 5 hours, including the time spent while walking towards each of them.
Useful information: This route consists of indoors cultural visits, to the main museums in Constanța, situated mostly in the Old Town or not far from this area. When a rainy day occurs, these museums are the best cultural ways to spend your time in Constanța. You will need a small budget for this route, since each museum can be visited in exchange for an entrance fee, as well as spare time. It is recommended to divide this route in at least two, in case you decide to spend more than one day in Constanța. This route starts from Constanța harbor, so it is suitable for tourists coming with cruise ships.
Description: Itinerary III starts just in front of the passengers’ terminal of Constanța Port, where Carol I Lighthouse and the Harbor Museum can be visited. Both are part of a common project, materialised at the beginning of the 20th century. Carol I Lighthouse was built in 1909, close to the Royal Pavilion, to honor and remind the works that were carried on in Constanța Harbor during the reign on King Carol I of Romania. The Harbor Museum is located in the building known between the WW as the Queen’s Nest or the Royal Pavilion. The building is situated on the former entrance pier to the port and was planned and realized under Anghel Saligy’s direct leadership in 1909-1910. After exiting the harbour and climbing the stairs right in front of the exit, one can reach a Belvedere where the statue of architect Anghel Saligny, who built a large part of the Constanta modern harbor. On your left, while facing the sea, you can find the ”Ion Jalea” Museum, provided with works donated by sculptor Ion Jalea (1887-1983): sculpture (108 works), drawings and sketches, reliefs, statues, busts, the building itself being a historical monument, built in 1909-1920 in Neo-Romanian style, having Victor Ştefănescu as architect. Following Arhiepiscopiei Street you will reach to the Ovid Square, where the Museum for National History and Archaeology awaits for tourists to visit it. It is one of the richest museums in Romania and the second largest profile institution, after the National History Museum. The imposing museum building was erected in Romanian architecture style at the beginning of the 20th century and served as Town Hall from 1921. The museum keeps an impressive heritage, composed of over 430,000 objects, dating from the Paleolithic to the modern epoch. From Ovid Square, Tomis Street takes you directly to the Folk Art Museum, which will be on your right side. The base exhibition comprises all folk art categories, allocated to ethnographical areas, the museum having a national character. The collections include: ceramics, icons on wood and on glass, metal, popular costumes, fabrics, textiles, adornments. The museum building dates back to 1893 and is a historical and architecture monument. Initially it was town hall and then post office. Following Tomis street further on you will see the Art Museum, on your right side. It displays various artworks on three levels in two buildings, linked to one another: the first building is dated to 1895, showing neoclassic style outside decorative elements, the other one is modern, built in 1980-1982. Works signed by the most famous Romanian painters and sculptors are put into value in the first building. Compositions, portraits and landscapes of more recent generation artists can be seen in the second building. The last stop is the Romanian Navy Museum, founded in 1969 as a first category institution of national interest, the only one in the country. The institution owns 37,800 pieces, grouped in 33 collections and presents the history of the Romanian navy. The Romanian Navy Museum was again confirmed as a museum of national importance, the second in the National Defense Ministry and the only one in Dobruja.
Constanța – green spaces, international cuisine, and relaxation in a continuously changing city
Duration: it depends, on each visitor, at least 4 to 5 hours estimated.
Useful information: This route consists of places allowing tourists to relax either by enjoying the sun and open air walks on the narrow streets of the Old Town and along the seafront, or by tasting various types of cuisine and coffee in the vintage and modern pubs and restaurants to be found in the Old Town or in the Touristic Port. This is an invitation to wander along the streets of the Old Town, and stop wherever you feel comfortable to spend some time and experience open air relaxation, a good coffee and great music.
Description: Itinerary IV starts on the promenade situated just to the right, when exiting the harbor, and it features 6 stops. The first two are the Casino and Aquarium on the seafront promenade. The Casino is no longer open to the public, but visitors can still admire the monumental Art Nouveau style and the lush decorations of its facade, all projected on a beautiful view towards the sea. The Aquarium was also built at the sea shore at the beginning of the 20th century as a casino annex. The space is used for the permanent aquatic fauna and flora exhibition. Walking on the Promenade one reaches to the statue of Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu and the Genovese lighthouse, rebuilt in 1858-1860 by French engineer Artin Aslan at command of a British company, on the same place were a Genovese lighthouse used to be. The next stop is at the end of this promenade, where Tomis marina lies. It is the ideal place for enjoying pleasant meals, good coffee, a beautiful sea view and nautical leisure activities. Taking the stairs up to the city one reaches the Ovid Square and then Tomis street, both part of the historical center of the city, where tourists may enjoy different types of cuisine and various types of coffee or beverages. Up the Tomis street one may reach to the Archaeological Park, arranged on a generous surface, between Constanţa town hall and Ferdinand Blvd. Its alleys seem to be exhibition halls in a history museum: columns, large ceramics vessels and architecture fragments dating from the Roman-Byzantine period. In order to reach to the next stop tourists should take bus 40 or 40C, which stops just in front of the park, on Ferdinand Blvd. or a taxi. The Natural Sciences Museum Complex offers a various group of places to visit to those who love nature and animals: Dolphinarium, Micro Delta, Planetarium and exotic birds’ exhibition. The last stop is situated just next to this complex: Tăbăcărie Park stretching on a surface of about 100 ha around the lake with the same name. It is the best place to walk under the sun or sit on e bench under the shading branches of the trees. The little wooden “St. Mina” church also reflects on the shiny water surface and gives the park a special charm.