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Constanţa

[kawn-stahn-tsah]

Constanţa (pronunciation in Romanian: /kon'stan.ʦa/; historical names: Tomis, Κωνστάντια or Constantia, Köstence, Кюстенджа) is the oldest city in Romania. Constanţa has the biggest harbour on the Black Sea, Port of Constanţa, the fourth largest in Europe, having the potential in the next few years to become the second largest in Europe after Rotterdam.

History

A number of inscriptions found in the town and its vicinity show that Constanţa lies where once Tomis stood. Tomis (also called Tomi) was a Greek colony in the province of Scythia Minor on the Black Sea's shore, founded around 500 BC for commercial exchanges with local Daco-Getic populations. Probably the name is derived from Greek Τομή meaning cut, section.

According to 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. "
(Bibliotheke I, ix, 24 )

According to Jordanes (after Cassiodorus), the founder of the city was a Getae queen (Jord. De origine actibusque Getarum, "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 and died there eight years later, celebrating the town of Tomis in his poems. A statue of Ovid stands in the Ovid Square (Piaţa Ovidiu) of Constanţa, in front of the History Museum (the former City Hall).

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 Byzantine Empire. During Maurice's Balkan campaigns, Tomis was besieged by the Avars in winter 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 the World War I), Constanţa was occupied by the Central Powers (German, Turkish and Bulgarian troops). 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. The city was liberated by the Allied troops in 1918 after the successful offensive on the Thessaloniki front which knocked Bulgaria out of the war.

Geography

In the vicinity there are mineral springs, and the sea-bathing also attracts many visitors in summer. Mamaia is a beach resort immediately to the north.

Climate

Constanţa has a moderate continental climate with considerable maritime and some Mediterranean influences. There are four distinct seasons during the year.

Summers are warm, dry and sunny with a July average of 23°C. Constanţa rarely experiences very hot days often found in the interior, because of the moderating influence of the Black Sea. Summers settle around early June and end in mid-September.

Autumns start late September, they are long and relatively warm. Nights can still be tropical (temperatures above 20°C) on an average of 10 days in September. September is often warmer than June, because of the heat accumulated by the Black Sea. The first frost occurs on average on November 19.

Winter is much balmier compared to other cities in southern Romania. Snow is not abundant but the weather can be very windy and thus, unpleasant. Winter arrives much later than in the interior and December weather is often mild with high temperatures reaching 12 °C. Average January temperature is +0.4°C. Winter storms when the sea becomes particularly treacherous are a common occurrence between December and March.

Spring arrives early but it's quite cool. Often in April and May the Black Sea coast is one of the coolest places in Romania at an altitude lower than 500 m.

The winter of 2007 was the warmest in recorded history. The January average was 6.5°C showing an exceptional 6 degrees departure above the normal. The summer of 2007 was the second hottest in history (after the summer of 1946) with a record breaking June average temperature of 23.0°C - 3.5 degrees above the normal. Overall the year 2007 was the warmest in recorded history in Constanta with an average temperature of 13.62°C.

Population

According to the 2002 census, the population of Constanţa city proper (the Municipality) was 310,471. According to the National Institute of Statistics' 2006 Statistical Yearbook Constanţa is the fourth largest Romanian city. The municipality of Constanţa and the neighboring localities make up a permanent population of 487,000 inhabitants, i.e. 65% of the total population of the county, and a minimum average of 120,000 per day, tourists or seasonal workers, come-and-go people during the high tourist season.

Ethnicity 1853 1895 1913 2002
All 5,204 10,419 27,201 310,471
Romanian 279 (5.4%) 2,519 (24.1%) 15,663 (57.6%) 286,332 (92.2%)
Tatar 1,853 (35.6%) 2,202 (21.1%) 277 (1%) 8,724 (2.8%)
Turkish 104 (2.0%) 2,451 (9%) 9,018 (2.9%)
Greek 1,542 (29.6%) 2,460 (23.6%) 3,170 (11.6%) 546 (0.17%)
Bulgarian 342 (6.5%) 1,060 (10.1%) 940 (3.4%) 48 (0.01%)
Jewish 344 (6.6%) 855 (8.2%) 1,266 (4.6%) 44 (0.01%)
Roma/Gypsy 127 (2.4%) n/a n/a 2,962 (0.95%)

Historical population

  • 1853: 5,200
  • 1879: 10,419
  • 1900: 13,000
  • 1910: 27,000
  • 1930: 59,000
  • 1950: 80,000
  • 1970: 172,000
  • 1985: 319,000
  • 1992: 350,581
  • 2002: 310,471
  • 2006: 306,200
  • 2007: 304,900
  • 2008: 303,712

Transport

The opening, in 1895, of the railway to Bucharest, which crosses the Danube by a bridge at Cernavodă, brought Constanţa a considerable transit trade in grain and petroleum, which are largely exported; coal and coke head the list of imports, followed by machinery, iron goods, and cotton and woollen fabrics.

The A2 freeway, linking Constanţa to Bucharest, is almost completed. Currently, it runs from Bucharest to Cernavodă and is slated to open to Constanţa by 2008.

The city is served by the Mihail Kogălniceanu International Airport.

Port of Constanţa, which include Constanţa North Port and Constanţa South Port, is the 4th largest in Europe and is protected by breakwaters, with a lighthouse at the entrance, is well defended from the North winds, but those from the South, South-East, and South-West prove sometimes highly dangerous. The Black Sea squadron of the Romanian fleet is stationed here. A large canal (the Danube-Black Sea Canal) connects the Danube River to the Black Sea at Constanţa.

Constanţa's public transport system is run by Regia Autonomă de Transport în Comun Constanţa (RATC), and consists of 17 bus lines, 2 tram lines and 2 trolleybus lines. In the early 2000s, the city bought 130 new MAZ buses, replacing the aging DAC buses. 90% of its bus fleet is currently made up of the new buses, which are distinctly painted in bright colours, such as pink, yellow and green. Some bus lines run on decommissioned tram lines - the tram cars were considered too noisy and the concrete surfaces of the tram rails are used now as bus lanes.

Tourism

Situated at the crossroads of several commercial routes, Constanţa lies on the western coast of the Black Sea, 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.

The second largest city 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. While in the area, you can visit traditional villages, vineyards, ancient monuments and the Danube Delta, a bird-lover's paradise.

Constanţa 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 Center.

Main sights

Ovidiu's Square

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 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 , 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.

St. Peter & Paul Orthodox Cathedral

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 Persian carpet, a gift from Sultan Abdul Hamid. Woven at the Hereche 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 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.

Metropolitan area

Neighborhoods

  • Abator
  • Anadalchioi
  • Badea Cârţan
  • Boreal
  • Casa de Cultură
  • Centru
  • C.E.T.
  • Coiciu
  • Dacia
  • Energia
  • Faleză Nord

  • Faleză Sud (Poarta 6)
  • Far
  • Gară
  • Groapă
  • Halta Traian
  • I.C.I.L.
  • I. C. Brătianu (Filimon Sîrbu between 1948-1990)
  • Inel I
  • Inel II
  • Km. 4 (Billa)
  • Km. 4-5

  • Km. 5
  • Mamaia
  • Medeea
  • Palas
  • Palazu Mare
  • Peninsulă
  • Pescărie
  • Piaţa Chiliei
  • Piaţa Griviţei
  • Port
  • Tăbăcarie

  • Tomis I
  • Tomis II
  • Tomis III
  • Tomis IV
  • Tomis Nord
  • Trocadero
  • Unirii
  • Victoria
  • Viile Noi
  • Zona Industrială

Politics

The current mayor of Constanţa is Radu Ştefan Mazăre (Social Democratic Party).

The Constanţa Municipal Council, elected in the 2008 local government elections, is made up of 27 councilors, with the following party composition:

    Party Seats in 2004 Seats in 2008 Current Council
  Social Democratic Party 15 19                                      
  Democratic Liberal Party 3 5                                      
  National Liberal Party 6 3                                      
  Greater Romania Party 3 0                                      

Local media

Newspapers and magazines

  • Cuget Liber
  • Adolescentul
  • Litoral
  • Telegraf
  • Observator de Constanţa
  • Independent
  • Atac de Constanţa
  • Jurnalul de Constanţa
  • Replica de Constanţa
  • Ziua de Constanţa
  • Bună ziua Constanţa

Local TV stations

Terrestrial TV signals reception

Local radio stations

  • Radio Constanţa
  • Radio Holiday
  • Sky FM
  • Doina FM
  • Neptun FM
  • Radio Dobrogea
  • C FM Club Radio

Romania's radio signals reception

  • Radio 21
  • Magic FM
  • PRO FM
  • Kiss FM
  • Naţional FM
  • Info PRO
  • BBC WS

Mobile phone network operators

Sports

Rugby: There are two rugby teams in Constanţa: RC Farul Constanţa, who play in Divizia Nationala BRD, and Constructul Cleopatra Constanţa, who play in Divizia A.

American Football: Constanta Sharks , the team that introduced american football in Romania since 2006, by initiative and sponsor of the italian Coach Gianluca Sordi.

Sister cities

Consulates

  • The General Consulate Of China
  • The General Consulate Of Russia
  • The General Consulate Of Greece
  • The General Consulate Of Turkey

Natives of Constanţa

Education

References

See also

External links

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