Histria: An Ancient Greek City on the Shore of the Black Sea

If you’d like to discover Histria and other attractions from the region, contact us via www.uncover-romania-tours.com

The Romanian coast of the Black Sea offers great opportunities for archaeology and history enthusiasts as the ruins of the ancient Greek colonies you’ll find here tell stories more than two thousands years old. The most famous of them is the ancient Greek city of Histria, the oldest city on the territory of present-day Romania, founded by Greek colonists before the mid-7th century BC.


Histria is also the first Greek colony on the west shore of the Black Sea, being for centuries, both during the Greek and Roman periods, the most powerful economic and cultural center of this part of the Danube. This was largely due to its favorable geographical position as in ancient times it bordered an open bay to the Black Sea that closed in time, forming today’s Sinoe lagoon.

Over 1,400 years of habitation

The city was inhabited uninterruptedly for more than 1,300 years across five distinct historical periods: Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Early Roman and Late Roman. Like other colonies, Histria was built of two different units, each surrounded by its own precincts. On the western plateau was the civil settlement, also the largest inhabited area, surrounded by the oldest identified fortified lines. In the second unit, the sacred area, neighbored by the ‘agora’, the remains of three temples were discovered, one of them dedicated to Zeus, another to Aphrodite, while the third and oldest one is presumed to be dedicated to Apollo.


Early democracy and Roman rule

Along time, key social changes occurred in this colony. During the Classical Period, the population involved in trade occupations fought the aristocratic oligarchy of the first founders to obtain political power that led, according to Aristotle’s ‘Politica’, to the creation of a democratic regime. Around the same time, taking advantage of its economic power, Histria minted coins that circulated north of the Black Sea.

Destroyed by the Scythians one century later, Histria was rebuilt only to be part of the regional conflicts involving other Greek colonies in the 3rd and 2nd century BC. In the last century BC, Histria faced two significant events, the arrival of the Roman armies and the annexation of the Greek colonies to the decentralized state created by the Dacian King Burebista. After Burebista’s death, Histria was put under Roman rule, but continued to enjoy a relative prosperity for more than one hundred years, until its destruction in the mid-3rd century AD. The attacks from the following hundreds of years left Histria powerless by the 7th century AD.


Histria today

The archaeological excavations began at Histria only one hundred years ago and continue until today. You can admire the discoveries of this archaeological work visiting the museum of Histria where the exhibits include sculptures, inscriptions, ceramics and many more ancient objects.

Travel tips

You can visit the museum and ruins from 9 am to 8 pm during summer time and from 9 am to 5 pm to during winter time.

For a complete historical experience, visit also the ruins of Argamum Fortress from Jurilovca and the Fortress of Enisala.

Source: Histria Guide (Livia Buzoianu and Constantin Chera)

If you’d like to discover Histria and other attractions from the region, contact us via www.uncover-romania-tours.com

About the author

Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer, focusing on sustainable tourism practices and destinations. You can find Diana Condrea on Twitter and Google+

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