Strange blocks of stone for some people, archaeological treasures for others, the ruins of the fortresses scattered all around the Dobrogea lands still have the power to impress a traveler and to make him wonder about their stories. It all started when the Greeks began colonizing the Black Sea Shores in the late 7th century BC, looking for new trading grounds.
The Greeks were an evolved society, and they contributed quite a lot to the economic and cultural development of the local people. The colonists were interested in gold and natural products such as honey, oil and resin, which they would exchange for fabric and fine pottery, which they brought from Greece. The business was good, and soon the newly created colonies became large and prosperous settlements. A few kilometers North Constanta, Histria was the first of the Greek colonies.
It was followed by Callatis, now Mangalia, and Argamum, on the shore of lake Razelm. Although it started as a small, secondary colony, the city of Tomis soon became the most important Greek settlement and the military capital, and centuries later turned into the modern city of Constanta.
After the Greeks lost their influence, Dobrogea fell under the control of the Macedonian Empire and a few centuries later, it became a Roman Province. The Romans, who were excellent administrators and engineers, developed a huge defense system of fortresses along the Danube, the ruins of which are still visible, although covered by the dust of almost two millennia.
Tropaeum Traiani – Adamclisi
The most beautiful and best preserved of these Roman settlements is Tropaeum Traiani, near the present village of Adamclisi (62km from Constanta). A Roman castrum named Civitas Tropaeensium was settled here and in 109 AD a monument named Tropaeum Traiani, dedicated by Emperor Traianus to the god Mars, was built to commemorate the Roman Empire’s victories over the Dacians. An armored faceless warrior rests on top of a cylinder 32m (100 ft) in diameter. Carved around the base are 49 bas-relieves portraying the Roman conquest. Colonized with Roman veterans of the Dacian Wars, the city was the largest Roman city of Scythia Minor and became a municipium around the year 200. Destroyed by the Goths, it was rebuilt during the rule of Constantine the Great and better defense walls, which defended the city successfully until the Avars sacked it in 587. After that moment, it ceased to be among the important cities of Dobrogea and was no longer mentioned for seven hundred years. The current name has a Turkish origin and it is an adaptation in Romanian of “Adam Kilisse” which means “the church of man” (when the Turkish people settled in this area, they thought the Ancient Roman monument was a church).
Here you will find remains of the city temples and streets.
One of the oldest urban settlements in Romania, Histria( 62km from Constanta) was discovered in 1914 on the shores of the Lake Sinoe. The name was derived from the ancient name of the Danube – Istros. About 2500 years ago this fortress was built by the Greek merchants who had come from the city of Milet (a city situated on the western coast of Asia Minor in today’s Turkey)and who traded with the Getae people. The fortress suffered a lot of changes, such as the Roman conquest, then the rule of the Dacian king, Burebista, and finally the second Roman conquest. The numerous barbarians’ attacks will finally lead to the fortress’s decay and its abandon in the 7th century A.D. Still visible nowadays are parts of walls, columns, carved pedestals, traces of the well – known paved mosaic, limestone ruins of a temple dedicated to Zeus or Aphrodita all remembering the flourishing and prosperous ancient town. Not far away from the fortress is a museum, gathering the most important testimonies of the fortress history – Greek amphorae, Latin inscriptions, jewelry, tools and guns.
Later, when the Romans were forced to abandon the region, it still kept its military importance, being part of the Byzantine Empire. During this time, a few more fortresses were built, the most picturesque of which still stands at Enisala. This Byzantine settlement lies on the top of a cliff near the Lake Razelm, splendidly conquering the landscape. The fortress that we now see was restored by the Genovese craftsmen in the 13th century to develop their commercial activities on the Danube River. But its history dates back as it was a Getic-Tracian commercial center in the 9th -7th centuries B.C. The largest necropolis of Dobrogea fall later under the Roman conquest.