Along the Danube and as far as the Black Sea, many cities have developed in relation to the river. Below, we take a look at some of them for travel opportunities in search of local history and culture.
One of the oldest settlements in Romania, the port city of Constanta is best known as a tourist destination. His name in ancient times was Tomis and it was there that the Roman poet Ovid was sent into exile.
The Port of Constanta has a tourist port, and several of the city’s most important landmarks are nearby. These include the Archaeological Museum, which houses important pieces representative of the Hamangia and Gumelnița cultures, Greek and Roman artefacts, small statues depicting various Greek deities and various works of art.
Also worth visiting is the building of Roman mosaics, a complex which linked the upper part of the city to the port. It was built at the end of the 4th century AD. Other landmarks are the Genoese Lighthouse, built in the 1860s to honor the Genoese merchants who established a maritime trading community there in the 13th century, and the magnificent Constanta Casino building, which is in need of restoration. . Also worth seeing is the Great Mahmudiye Mosque, combining Byzantine and Romanian architectural elements.
Romanian cities: the old port city of Constanta
About 66 km east of Constanța is the town of Cernavod, a port on the Danube. The municipality is known to house the nuclear power station of Cernavodă, for the Anghel Saligny bridge, built at the end of the 19e century and today a historical monument, and for the archaeological culture of the end of the copper age which bears its name. The ruins of the fortress of Capidava, an important Roman castrum, 24 km from Cernavodă, bear witness to the ancient history of the region.
The history of the Danubian port city of Braila dates back to medieval times. It became part of the Ottoman Empire in the 16e century and experienced a peak in development towards the end of the 19e century, when it was one of the most prosperous and cosmopolitan cities in the country. It was then home to large communities of Greeks and Turks, among others. The development of the city at the turn of the century can be seen today in its many historic buildings, built in a variety of Rococo, Baroque, Art Nouveau and Neo-Romanian styles.
In 2016, the historic city center, which covers more than 160 hectares, was declared a Class A historical monument. Among the monuments in the region is the Maria Filotti Theater, dating from the 1840s. Throughout its history, the theater has hosted performances by important international and local artists, such as actress Sarah Bernhardt and composer George Enescu. The Grand Jardin de Brăila, a public park at 19e century, the memorial houses of the writer Panait Istrati and the historian and literary critic Perpessicius, both born in the city, are worth seeing, alongside the Braila museum, housed in a building where the Casino Armelin stood.
About 20 km north of Brăila is the port town of Galaţi. Its most recent history is marked by industrial development, based on the secular commercial activity of the place. The city, which housed many factories and 16 foreign consulates at the start of the 20e century, was badly damaged by bombing in WWII and was rebuilt in the 1950s.
Some of the city’s iconic buildings are the Palace of Justice, a historic monument, and the Palace which was the seat of the European Commission for the Danube. The History Museum is housed in a building where Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza lived when he was administrator (Pârcălab) of Galaţi. The botanical garden is located on the south bank of the Danube and includes a planetarium and an aquarium, with rare fish species from the Danube.
The port city of Tulcea can serve as a good base for exploring the Danube Delta, a biosphere reserve and a UNESCO world natural heritage site.
The history of the place dates back to ancient times and, as was the case with many other settlements in the region, it was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for several centuries. The ruins of the Roman fortress of Argamum are about an hour away by car. Tulcea can also be a starting point for exploring the mountainous region of Măcin, dotted with picturesque villages.
Dobrogea in Romania – rolling hills, winding roads and a windy gateway to nature at its best
Another city on the Danube with a long history is Drobeta Turnu Severin, in Mehedinți County, near the Iron Gates. Near Turnu Severin are the remains of the Trajan Bridge, one of the largest in the Roman Empire. The bridge was 1,135 m long and each bridgehead had its own portal monument.
The Iron Gates National Park is a good place for mountain tourism, Danube cruises, bird watching, fishing and water sports.
The town of Drobeta Turnu Severin will be the starting point of a new pilgrimage route crossing the region of Transylvania – Via Transilvanica.
Other port cities on the Danube are Giurgiu, connected to Bulgaria by the Giurgiu – Ruse bridge, Călărași, Calafat, Bechet and Moldova Veche.
(Opening photo: Constanta on Adobe Stock)