Constanta, steeped in Greek mythology

Constanta Travel Blog

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industrial harbor of Constantza

church service in an Othodox cathedral, and old mosque, old casino, archeological museum, beach at Mamaia and lunch at Iaki Hotel and dolphins

Constantza (the 2nd t has a tail) was called Tomis in the old times, it has a history of more than 2500 years, ancient Greeks had sailed here, and it was part of the Roman empire. It's the town were the Roman poet Ovid spent his exile.

at port in Constantza, with German navy ship in view
In the 4th century, it was renamed Constantiana in honor of the sister of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. During the Ottoman empire from 15th-19th century it was called Kustenja. Finally in 1878, it was changed to its present name when Romania acquired the territory from Bulgaria.

It's the 2nd busiest/largest seaport in Europe, Roterdam being the most busy. It is mostly industrial, with container ships. Thus the entry into the harbor was not very picturesque, many tall cranes and carge ships filled the horizon, which was pretty flat with no hills in sight.

We took a short bus ride from the ship to town, passing a huge pile of scrap metal, and I do mean huge. Rusting metals, beams, even a bathtub can be seen on top of the pile. We were told these were the remains of the communist era factories which were now shipped to China to be given a new life! In the distance, other piers had similar mountains of scrap metal!

We walked about a block to an Orthodox church, being Sunday morning, service was going on.

back of our ship, overlooking some battleships
I had never been in an Orthodox church during service before. Our guide ensured us that it was OK to walk in and looked around during service. What he did not tell me, but should have been obvious, was that men had the right side, and women wearing their scarves on the left of the aisle, I walked in, people were standing during service, some were kneeling with their hands and head on the floor. It was very crowded, I carefully walked near the front where the ministers in formal gowns were praying or giving sermon, I couldn't tell since it was in Romanian. There was a circular area, and around the perimeter were shallow seats where some people were half sitting, I took some photos, no flash of course, and started back. A man tapped me on the shoulder and whispered “Men, right, women, left”.
jellyfish in the water
Ooops! I was on the right of the circular area! I apologized and went to the left side, and then out. The praying or singing were live, not recorded, and it was really like a chant. People who were on the floor (mostly young women) were paying penitence for sins they had probably commited on Friday night?

Next to the church was a small area of ruins, it was fenced off, but the objects inside looked like they were Roman.

We then walked to the large structure next to the water. It looked really pretty from a distance, but when we got close, we could notice that it was in need of repair. It was a royal casino. Our guide told us that somebody had purchased it and was restoring it to become a casino again. Kevin and I took a peek inside the door, and there was a guard. He tooked at us, gestured us inside, and closed the doors behind us! Hmm! Then he said 10 lei for a quick look.

Old orthodox church, Roman ruins in front
OK, but we had no local currency, and told him we had none. He was disappointed, but nonetheless told us we could have 2 minutes inside, and be quick or he could get into trouble. So we went up the grand staircase and upstairs to look at the grand room. It definitely had the potential to be a fine casino, with large windows, high ceilings and chandeliers over the staircase. We hurried out just as another guard, who could very be his supervisor came in. I wonder if he got himself in trouble for trying to make a few bucks.

We then were driven to the Ovid Square, where the archelogical museum was located. A bust of Ovid stood in front of the museum. A short walk away was a tiny mosque, nothing impressive by Istanbul standards, and it didn't look to be in use either. The museum had some glass artifacts from a coule of thousands years ago, and then there were some nice sculptures.

the church

Glykon, the fantastic serpent from the 3rd century was a stone serpent which looked like it had hair, very cute and pretty too, The large statue of Fortuna and Pontos, gods protecting the city and the ancient port Tomis (from 2nd -3rd century) was well preserved and stood regally in front of a dark blue drape for contrast, since the statue was white marble. And Aedicula with the double representation of Nemesis, Roman ruins were a couple of small statues with broken noses, but otherwise intact and beautiful.

In between the museum and the mosque was a building constructed over the oldest Roman mosaics found in this area. The Roman building was a marble building at the seaport with mosaics on the floor and artifacts from 4th century can b e seen on the floor.

front of the church, to the left of the main entrance
This building was flooded a few years ago, but the mosaics seemed to be OK. They discovered the mosaics when they were trying to construct new buildings at the seaport. The excavation showed that the Romans also built at the same location, with multi-level terraces looking out to sea.

We had the option of having our lunch on our ship or go to a beach hotel. We opted to go to the beach hotel just to see more of the city. The Mamaia Beach was a popular place for Romanians, the Black Sea was warm here, and the sand hot. Many many people were on the beach, some looking like red lobsters they would regret when they got home! People were swimming, building sand castles, and having a good time.

We had our lunch buffet under some big umbrellas in the courtyard of the Iaki Hotel, owned by a soccer player, There was a pool at the hotel too for people who wanted fresh water.

inside the church, service on Sunday morning
It was very hot, and neither of us decided to swim. Others from our ship did get into the water for some fun.

Back to the ship after lunch. The shipped sailed for Odessaat 4:45pm. Kevin went for a tour of the bridge and I stayed in the cabin. Then I heard an announcement saying “We have dolphins, come out to the front of the ship”, so I grabbed my camera and went to have a look. There were several dolphins swimming just ahead of the bow of the ship. Looking straight down, they were not more than a couple of feet ahead, they kept up the speed and distance, and would swim upside down so we could see their white bellies, then they would pop out of the water for some air and dive under again. They did this for a few minutes and then disappeared. The captain said he didn't see dolphins often in the Black Sea, but we were lucky,

During the night, the ship encountered some waves and winds, apparently a cold front was passing through, and it was kind of bumpy.

front of church
We were in bed already, and it was noisy at times, but the rocking of the ship was good for putting people to sleep. So we actually slept alright.

cmgervais says:
How exciting to see dolphins! Nice blog.
Posted on: Aug 30, 2008
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industrial harbor of Constantza
industrial harbor of Constantza
at port in Constantza, with German…
at port in Constantza, with Germa…
back of our ship, overlooking some…
back of our ship, overlooking som…
jellyfish in the water
jellyfish in the water
Old orthodox church, Roman ruins i…
Old orthodox church, Roman ruins …
the church
the church
front of the church, to the left o…
front of the church, to the left …
inside the church, service on Sund…
inside the church, service on Sun…
front of church
front of church
casino by the port, being restored
casino by the port, being restored
interior of casino
interior of casino
interior of the grand room of the …
interior of the grand room of the…
interior of staircase of casino, l…
interior of staircase of casino, …
another view of the casino
another view of the casino
interior of small mosque in town
interior of small mosque in town
interior of mosque
interior of mosque
museum
museum
the cute serpent in the museum
the cute serpent in the museum
statue of Fortuna and Pontos, gods…
statue of Fortuna and Pontos, god…
Roman mosaics
Roman mosaics
Kevin tries out the water in the B…
Kevin tries out the water in the …
people at the beach
people at the beach
view of beach, Constantza
view of beach, Constantza
dolphins were surfing right under …
dolphins were surfing right under…
Constanta
photo by: nonna