Town History
harbor at the  Danube and Black Sea

History of the town and of its harbor functions In the today’s perimeter of Constanta, there were discovered proofs of human existence about 120.000 years old, from the Middle Paleolithic. The many archeological discoveries represent true revelations for the specialists and prove the human society evolution with changes and innovations from the old ages - Neolithic, Bronze, Iron - but, also local and original peculiarities of the native population, with Indo-European origin, the Traco-Geti, the oldest inhabitants of this region.

These were the historical premises, written in one sentence, which had driven to the settlement of the antiques fortress Tomis - Constanta today - during the Greek colonization of the Pontus Euxinus area (7th-5th century B.C.) The Greeks, arrived here, have found a Getic native settlement. They have, first, founded an "emporion" that evolved till the Hellenistic period till the level of "polis" with all its attributions (4th and 3rd centuries B.C.)

The importance of Tomis grew during 3rd and 1st centuries B.C. In this period huge wealth are accumulated due to the economical development, based on the harbor activity and enables the town-planning flourishing of the city, after the model of the Milet fortress.

In the 1st century B.C. on this territory, between the Lower Danube and the Black Sea, come the Romans. The Roman ruling (1st – 3rd centuries) modifies positively the geopolitical and economical status of the region, an economical and cultural growth is seen. Tomis is consolidated, the harbor become very active, the city knows a great town-planning activity. Here lived in exile, for 8 years, 8-17 A.C.) the poet Publius Ovidius Naso.


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"Pax Romana" is followed by the barbarians invasions, the first wave was during 3rd and 4th centuries. The city survives and become the residence of the province Scythia Minor, in the context of the break up of the Roman Empire. There were difficult moments, with dramatic episodes and situation changes. Tomis from the Roman-Byzantine period was an important Christian religion center. The Christianity practices here were of apostolic origin due to the Saint Apostle Andrew. But the city has also a political and military role, 5th – 7th centuries, during the migratory waves – Huns, Slavs, Bulgarians, Petchengs, Cumanians and the last ones the Tartars and Turks.

The name of Constanta dates from the Byzantine ruling when Tomis appears in Byzantine and later Italian documents, as Constantia, after an important imperial Roman family. But the city images changes, become more rural after the devastating Barbarian migrations. In the 10th – 13th centuries the city will participate, as and urban center of some importance, at the period events and continue its harbor life. In this period the maritime trade was dominated by Italians, those from Genoa being the most important. Today, still exists a construction from that period, the "Genoese Light-house", reminding us the famous Genoese merchants.

In the 14th century another empire is in expansion in this region, the Turkish Empire. Dobrogea and is residence town, Constanta, are integrated in a Turkish province, being conquered by military force, starting with the 15th century till the end of the 19th century, when, after the independence War from 1877-1978, the province of Dobrogea is back in the Romanian state borders.

Only at this date begins the modern development of Dobrogea. Constanta, due to the harbor, was the "lung of the Romania" as the first Romanian king, Carol I, said. The most important development of Constanta, mostly of the harbor, was between 1878-1914. After the building of the bridge across the Danube, between 1890-1895, by the famous Romanian engineer Anghel Saligny, the longest bridge in Europe, and the 3rd in the world at that moment, the Romanian Maritime Service was founded, and the maritime line Constanta - Constantinopole was opened, the harbor was modernized but a great reconstruction plan (1985-1909), with installations, warehouses, silos; the harbor traffic grows constantly, hundred of ships under all flags boarding at its piers. Romanian Maritime Service had an important fleet, its ships navigating on the "Oriental line" (Constanta-Constantinopol-Alexandria), on the "Archipelago line" (Constanta-Pireu-Salonic) and on the "Occidental line" (Constanta-Rotterdam). The necessary infrastructure was built: railways and roads. Many beautiful buildings were built in this period that are still up and make the city image nicer.

During the First World War (1914-1918) the city had many losses, The Germans and mostly the Bulgarians made a lot of destructions, putting end to the most flourishing period of the town.

Between the two World Wars (1918-1940) the city economical and commercial development is resumed strictly to the harbor activity. Constanta made 70% from the total maritime traffic of the country. In this period the ship-building yard is developed, becoming, till the Second World War, the most powerful enterprise from the region, having the biggest work force concentrated here.

The Second World War meant again foreign occupation, destructions and material losses caused by the Soviet plunder after the war, under the for of "compensations", which practically destroyed the Romanian fleet and subordinated the Harbor to the interest of the occupants, our "friend" for 50 years. The communist regime maintained Constanta as the first maritime harbor of the country and accorded it the necessary importance from this point of view. In parallel, due to the Soviet type industrialization, the city knew a great development, mostly between 1960-1975. The ship yard was extended (for 150.000 tdw ships), the commercial fleet grew (around 250 ship in 1985), also grew the number of factories, the see side was developed for tourist purposes, realities that have to be mentioned for the correctness of the information. After December 1989, the city remains the second town after Bucharest and seeks new development directions.