I do not talk often of my childhood, so I thought it would be interesting for my readers to see where I grew up. I do not have pictures, as I did not think of taking any of the places I am so familiar with. So, instead, I searched on google and their embedded street views are so good I shared a lot of these. You can drag the picture using the mouse and zoom in, if you want to see more.
Some of the places I’m going to mention are only a few minutes from the childhood home, some are at about a 30-40 minutes walk, so very close. Where I grew up? In the city-port of Constanta, at the Black Sea, in Romania. It is a city with a long history, going back to pre-Roman times, with many Greek connections, mostly due to trading. In Roman times, the city was known as Tomis and it is the place where the exiled poet Ovid lived. He was not happy about it, but that’s another story. Even today there is a district of the city called Tomis and there is an Ovidiu Square (Romanian version of Ovid), the state funded university is called Ovidiu too.
Piata Ovidiu – Ovid Square
There is a statue of Ovid and here are two museums, including the one shown here, the Natural History and Archaeology Museum. It is slightly smaller than its counterpart from Bucharest, but it is one of the largest in the country. It was opened in 1879.
There are many impressive items on display, many of them Roman in origin. As you will see in this post, the connection to the Roman past is quite important in Romania and especially in places such as Constanta.
Edificiul Roman cu Mozaic – Roman Mosaic
This is the second museum in the Ovid Square, home to an extensive Roman mosaic. It was discovered recently, in 1959. Luckily it was not destroyed by the communists and we can all enjoy seeing it today. There is more to see outside, including beautiful Roman tombs. It is a wonderful place. I loved going there and seeing the artefacts.
Moscheea Carol I – Carol I Mosque – view from the minaret
Constanta is a highly diverse city with many minorities, as it is a port. This means that our local cuisine was more diverse too, comparing to the inland cities. My husband grew up less than 70 miles from Constanta, but he was enjoying some Turkish or Aromanians dishes only when he was on holiday in Constanta.
This mosque was named Carol I after the Romanian King, as he gave the approval for it to be built in 1910. The mosque can be visited and I’ve been there many times. My husband remembered climbing the stairs to reach the viewing point. The entry fee is less than £1, so well worth it if you ever think of visiting Constanta. The mosque is very close to the Natural History Museum. A Catholic church is also nearby, between the mosque and the promenade.
Roman walls near St. Anton Catholic Church
These walls are close to the Catholic church I mentioned before. Most Romanians are Christian Orthodox, which means that this Catholic church serves only a small minority of people. Even so, they do their best to interest the others, organizing events such as carol singing at Christmas time for everyone to enjoy. They also organize the procession of the lilies and I’ve been a couple of times to see it. In front of the church are these gorgeous Roman walls. It is only a few minutes from the next place I’m going to talk about.
Cazino – Casino
On the promenade is this gorgeous Casino. Building started in 1880 and it had two game rooms, two reading rooms for local and international press, and a ballroom. It was damaged in a storm and rebuilt by 1900. It was hugely popular in its heyday. It served as a hospital in the First World War. Unsurprisingly it went downhill during the communist years.
From the Casino one can walk on the promenade towards the yacht marina before reaching the beach. These beaches are less known by the tourists. There are many resorts at the Black Sea, which are perfect for tourists as there are only hotels, restaurants, bars, and lots and lots of beaches. That meant that the Constanta beach was usually “reserved” for the city dwellers. Now it changed a bit though.
From my early teens I was allowed to go to the beach unsupervised, with friends, because it was close, in walking distance. There were lifeguards and I was not going too deep into the water anyway.
If you zoom in, you’ll be able to see huge amphorae in the park. This is where I played many times and where I used to take my first dog for a walk and a play with his friends. At one end of the park is a modern mosaic which shows the Roman settlements in Dobruja.
Colegiul National Mircea cel Batran – Mircea the Elder National College
My high-school, a place I absolutely loved. It was opened in 1896, a few years after the War of Independence. It is one of the best in the countries.
Here my father and one of my great-grand-fathers studied too. Due to its prestige and, of course, the results the students achieve after finishing it, the competition for the entry was fierce. When I applied, I had to take two exams. If I wasn’t successful it meant that I had to wait an year or, more likely, go to a high-school which still had some clearance places in the Autumn. It was quite a lot of pressure on my 14 year old shoulders, but I made it and I had a wonderful time there.
Do you have any questions on Constanta? Were you familiar with some of the places I mentioned?