Brief history of Constanța
Tomis in Greek and Roman times
The Greek colony of Tomis was founded in the seventh century BC for commercial exchanges with the local Getic population. It was a thriving settlement, a relay between the Danubian area and the Mediterranean markets. In 29 BC the Romans annexed the area and named it Limes Scythicus. Tomis became famous as the exile place of Ovid, who lamented his banishment from Rome in his poems Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto. The city was later the metropolis of the Roman provinces of Moesia and Scythia Minor.
Constantiniana between the Balkan empires and the ‘barbarian’ North
Since the fifth century, the city was caught in the vortex of a complicated political history. It remained part of the Eastern Roman Empire, but was continuously besieged by the tribes that forced the imperial limes. It was renamed Constantiana, in honor of Constantia, the half-sister of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, but it was later conquered by the powerful Bulgarian empire. At times, Constanța was mastered by local rulers and it probably hosted Genoese merchants when they controlled the Black Sea trade. In the fourteenth century it was occupied by Wallachia, and eventually fell under Ottoman rule in early 15th century.
Kustendje in Ottoman times
As an Ottoman settlement, ‘Kustendje’ was affected by the declining trade of the Black Sea after the closure of the Straits to foreign trade and shipping. It was described as a small village, often destroyed in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries during Russia’s military campaigns in the area. Its fortune changed after the development of Danubian grain trade, when a railroad between Kustendje and the Danubian port of Cernavodă was opened in 1860 by a British company, interested to trade the rich agro-pastoral resources of the Danubian hinterland.
Constanţa in early twentieth century
In 1878, at the end of a Russian–Ottoman war in which Romania fought for her independence, the province of Dobrudja was ceded to Romania. Constanţa became the country’s most important port and the central authorities in Bucharest invested huge capitals for the modernization of the harbor. After the inauguration of a bridge over the Danube in 1895 and the linkage of the province to Romania’s railway network, the city flourished and soon became the largest Romanian port-city. It was heavily damaged during both world wars, but it remained the center of significant investments in infrastructure, which has made it one of the most economically developed municipalities of Romania.
Constanţa is one of the most populated municipalities in Romania, with a metropolitan area of about half a million people. It is a large industrial and commercial center, and the economic activity resolves around its harbor. It is the largest port of the Black Sea, and the Danube – Black Sea Canal also turns Constanţa into a fluvial port, the economic terminus of the mighty European river. Tourism has been an increasingly important activity in recent years, mostly due to the fashionable resort of Mamaia, in northern Constanța.