General Knowledge Contest


KUSTENGE CONSTANŢA – 2700 years of history

The first historical references about Tomis, commercial landmark developed by the Greeks on a native Getae settlement, appeared in the 6th century B.C. The Greek colonization led to a rise in the economic activity that materialized through the accumulation of wealth inside the citadel, culminating with an impressive urban development of the city.
The expansion of the Roman Empire (centuries I-III A.D.) in the west area of the Black Sea led to an afterwards development of the citadel which changed its name into Constantiana, name taken from that of Constantine the Great’s sister. The city flourished under the mark of the Roman culture, the construction and architectural elements discovered indicating an important activity of the Roman Empire in this area.
The city declined in the next period. However, it was still mentioned in some maritime charts of the Genovese or Venetian merchants. Its strategic position for cereal trade brought it back into attention at the middle of the 19th century. Under Turkish occupation, the little harbour of Kustenge was linked to Cernavoda (town situated 63 km away on the bank of the Danube) through the first railroad built by the Ottoman Empire.
After the War of Independence (1877 – 1878) and the reintegration of the region into the Romanian state, Constanța began a rising trend of development. At the beginning of the 20th century the basis of a modern port city were set through the beginning of naval constructions and of the urban feature change. During the World Wars, the city underwent occupation.
From the economical point of view, Constanţa is nowadays the second city in the country after Bucharest, the capital, especially due to the activities and the facilities provided by the link to the sea (the port, the shipyard and tourism).
Constanța County spreads on a surface of 7,071 km2, comprising 9 cities and about 150 communes and villages, with a population of over 700,000 people.
The main activity in the county is connected with tourism. About 40% of the touristic accommodation capacity of Romania is to be found in the 14 seaside resorts (Gura Portiţei, Mamaia, Eforie, Techirghiol, Costineşti, Olimp, Neptun, Aurora, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mangalia, 2 Mai, Vama Veche). At county level, besides services, other areas are developed as well, such as agriculture, industry, and constructions.
The average annual temperature is of about 13 degrees Celsius with very big variations from summer to winter, the maximum being around 35 degrees and minimums that can reach minus 25 degrees Celsius. The beaches oriented towards east are covered with fine sand and are bathed by the sun about 10 hours/day.
The capital city of the county is Constanța with a population of over 300,000 inhabitants spread on a surface of 1,121 km2. Even if they have changed their number in time, in the city the Romanians cohabit with a multitude of ethnic groups: Turks, Tatars, Romani, Magyars, Armenians, Greeks, Germans, Bulgarians, and Ukrainians. Besides Orthodoxy, which represents more than 80% of the Christians, there are various other religious cults: Muslims, Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, or Reformed Catholics.
There is a network of 500 pre-university educational establishments and 8 universities in the city. Mircea cel Batran Naval Academy, established in 1872, was joined by the Merchant Marine Institute (now called Constanța Maritime University) and Ovidius University, but also by five private universities.
The commercial port of Constanța spreads on 3,182 ha and it is the biggest port on the Black Sea coast. The county also has three ports for cruise boats in Constanța, Eforie Nord and Mangalia.
Five theatres, six museums, the local newspapers and the television channels, as well as the scientific and cultural societies and libraries contribute to the cultural life of the city.

The work of the renowned Italian sculptor Ettore Ferari, it is an emblematic statue of the city and probably the most important monument in Constanța.
Made of bronze, the statue placed in Ovid’s Square was uncovered in 1887 in the presence of the city’s officials and locals.
The famous sculptor Ettore Ferari, author of works situated in Rome – the Statue of Giordano Bruno from Campo de’ Fiori (1889) and Giuseppe Mazzini (1909), or in Pisa – the statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi (1892), was asked by the local administration of Constanța to make a statue of the great Latin poet.
40 years later, the same sculptor made the same statue for Sulmona city (Italy), the birthplace of the poet. Even if the author wanted a different approach by making it of marble, the deadline imposed by the Italian officials led to the solution of a bronze replica of the statue in Constanța.
Over the years, the statue had several locations in Ovid’s Square being even taken down in order to be taken as capture of war by the Bulgarian soldiers during the World War I’ however, due to the intervention of the German officers, it was sheltered in the basement of the City Hall and placed back on its stand at the end of the warfare.
The Latin poet Ovidius Publius Naso, whose existence is deeply connected to that of the old city Tomis, was born in ancient Rome and was banished by the emperor Octavian Augustus in the year 8 A.D. at Pontos Euxeinos, the current Constanța.
Through his exile poems, ”Tristia”, the poet offers the most important sources about the life and customs on this territory.
“I lie here, who toyed with tender love,/ Ovid the poet betrayed by my genius:/Be not severe, lover, as you pass by,/Say “Easy may the bones of Ovid lie” (Ovid, Tristia, book III, poem III): are the lyrics written by Ovid to be engraved on his tomb. The precise place where he was buried is unknown, so these beautiful words found their place on the stand of the great poet’s statue.

One of the most remarkable archaeological vestiges of the ancient town Tomis is represented by the Roman mosaic which that is one of the biggest mosaics discovered on the entire territory of the former Roman Empire with an area of over 2,000 square meters. The site is an evidence of the inhabitants’ way of life between 4th and 7th centuries A.D.
The ancient architectural site discovered in 1959 reconstructs an important part of what Tomis was 2,000 years ago. The three categories of vestiges – the mosaic, the arched rooms and the goods found in the warehouses, lead to the idea that Tomis was an important port with a developed trading activity.
At the lower level, the connection of the ships with the city was made through the 11 arched warehouses where the products were unloaded. The upper lever was made up of the same number of warehouses that probably ensured the storage of the goods for the trading exchange. Of special importance are the amphorae discovered in the upper warehouses whose content preserved over the centuries tells of the activities practised by the inhabitants of the ancient Tomis.
Connected through a limestone staircase, the upper levels continue with the mosaic. The pattern made of pebbles of different colours, dating around 5th century A.D., impresses through the exactitude of the geometrical forms and through the graphic elements set in order to create a more than functional frame.
The construction built in terraces ensures a protection of the shore through bricking and bank-sloping works thus creating a complex space with multiple utilities that through the upper level makes the connection of the town with the quays.
A few scores of meters to the south, vestiges as important as these and dating from the same periods as the mosaic were discovered. Its function was determined based on a Greek inscription in which it was mentioned that the public baths were found on this place.
The archaeological works brought to surface a very small part of the entire edifice that had the function of „Lentarion – vestibulum”. The main hall with a surface of 300 square meters was paved with marble and was heated by some stoneware tubes that brought the hot air from an underground heating system (hypocaust).