About 65km north of Constanţa, Histria, or Istros, settled in 657 BC by Greek traders, is Romania’s oldest town. Its founding by Greek colonists, through the Hellenic decline, the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and then the rise of Byzantium, forms a fascinating microcosm of early settlement in this part of the world. The exhibition is divided into a standard museum interior, where significant relics are displayed, and an outdoor walk through the ancient city’s remains.
Over the centuries, Histria became a key commercial port, superseding even that at Constanţa. But subsequent Goth attacks coupled with the gradual sand-locking of the harbour led to its equally rapid decline. By the 7th century AD the town was abandoned. Its ruins were discovered and excavated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Highlights include the western sector of the old town, where most of the public buildings, the thermal baths and the civil basilica stood. Close by is a Christian basilica, built with stones from the old theatre in the 6th century AD.
On the cliffs in the eastern sector is the ‘sacred zone’ (zona sacră), where archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a Greek temple believed to have been built at the end of the 6th century BC.
Getting to Histria is difficult without private transport. Buses depart from Constanţa’s northern bus station, but the 4km hike to the museum complex from the stop puts many people off and taxis are hard to find here.