The Black Sea coast has been topping travellers’ wish lists for years. And unsurprisingly so; legend has it that Jason and his Argonauts passed through after finding the golden fleece, vestiges of the past are rich and plentiful and Byzantine chapels dot the horizon.
The centre of the Black Sea coastal cities is, of course, Constanta. At 250 kilometres from Bucharest, Romania’s second-largest city is by no means thrust into the shade by the country’s capital. Au contraire - it has a deep history that goes back 2,500 years.
Like much of the coastline, Constanta has changed hands many times. Founded by the Greeks who named it Tomis, the city was captured by the Romans in 29 BC, who changed its name to Constanta, in honour of Constantine the Great’s half-sister. It then became part of the Bulgarian empire for 500 years, before falling prey to Ottoman rule in the 15th century. Naturally, such a storied past has left a mark and Constanta’s superb old town offers an informative lesson in living history. For those who wish to delve a little deeper into the city’s past, the superb Museum of National History and Archaeology and the Museum of Ethnography both offer an in-depth taste of a bygone era.
The city’s main claim to fame however is that Roman poet Ovid was banished here after Emperor Augustus deemed his poetry indecent for the era. The Constantians however are only too proud of this connection, a statue of the poet stands proud in his eponymously name square, presiding over the city’s sights.