History of churches
Author: ARDELEANU KONSTANTIN
According to a source, in 1878 there were at Constanţa three churches (Greek, Bulgarian, Catholic), as well as an Israelite temple . By late 19th and early 20th centuries there also were the Romanian cathedral, a Protestant church, an Armenian church and seven mosques (two larger ones) . Short histories of the churches are presented below.
“Metamorphosis” Greek Church
According to available information, a house of prayer served by a Greek deacon existed at Constanţa during the 1850s. A wooden church was erected in 1862 after the donation of the Ikonomou family from Tergesti, with the support of archpriest Fillipos Tzoulatis of Cefalonia and of Baker, the director of the British railway. The development of the local Greek community made a proper temple extremely necessary, and in 1863, following the mediation of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchy, Sultan Abdul Aziz donated to the Greek community an estate in central Constanţa. For funding the construction, Archpriest Tzoulatis organised a public collect, and generous donations poured from all over Europe. The “Metamorphosis” Church was built between 1863 and 1865 according to the plans of Greek architect Ioan Teoharidis. It is built in stone, in a simple architectural style, and it was painted by a painter from Mount Athos. Until the completion of the local cathedral, it held numerous public services for the entire Orthodox community of Constanţa .
“Saint Apostles Peter and Paul” Orthodox Cathedral
The Orthodox Cathedral, “Saint Apostles Peter and Paul”, was built on the expenses of the state after Dobrudja became part of the Romanian kingdom. During this period, Dobrudja was under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction and administration of the Lower Danube Bishopric, transferred in 1878 to Galaţi. The ecclesiastic administration of the county of Constanţa was coordinated by a local protohierey. In 1880, architect Al. Săvulescu was employed by the central authorities to draft a first project, but new proposals came during the next two years. The cathedral was to be more than a simple temple of prayer – it was to become a beautiful and grandiose monument of Romanian civilisation. Construction works started according to the plans of architect Alexandru Orăscu, with Henry Guaracino as entrepreneur and architect Carol Beneş as supervisor of the technical works. The headstone was placed in September 1883, during the term of Iosif Gheorghian as bishop of the Lower Danube. The church was built in neo–byzantine style, with neoclassical and Moorish elements, in the shape of a cross with three towers, a massive one on the nave and two others in the porch. The provisional reception was done in 1885, and during the following three years Gheorghe Demetrescu Mirea painted the inner walls. His realistic style (with saints resembling famous local and central Romanian figures) was not appreciated by the ecclesiastic authorities, so that the church was repainted to suit religious canons. The spectacular furniture and ornamentations were designed by architect Ion Mincu. The church was consecrated on 22 May 1895, during a ceremony presided by bishop Partenie. The church served as city cathedral and held the religious celebrations for different national or local events .
“The Assumption” Church
The development of the city and the increase of Romanian population at Constanţa imposed the building of a new Orthodox church. The initiative belonged to priest N. Paveliu and was completed in 1906–1907, during the term as mayor of Ion Bănescu. The church was constructed by entrepreneur Cosma Dusi, according to the plans of engineer Polizu, and the plan of the iconostasis was drafted by architect G. Mândrea. The painting was made in Renaissance style by D. Marinescu in 1910–1911, and the furniture and the iconostasis were made by sculptor C. M Babic from Bucharest .
“St. George” Church
The “St. George” Church was to serve the north–eastern areas of the city, and its headstone was placed in 1915. The construction was interrupted during the war, and the church was completed during the interwar years .
“St. Nicholas” Bulgarian Church
A small church was hosted in a modest house before 1878, but as it was insufficient for the growing Bulgarian population, the community required the municipality’s approval to build a proper church. All agreements were finally granted in 1898 and the church, painted by Pan Ioanid, was completed by 1907 .
“St. Mary” Armenian Church
According to tradition, an Armenian church existed at Constanţa since the 18th century. It was later abandoned, and the new one was founded by Nazaret Torosian in 1880, on an estate given by the municipality for the use of the Armenian community .
The Catholic Church
A small catholic church was erected in 1872, from the initiative of George Riga, a cashier employed at the British railway company. Later, by the initiative of Anton Licen, the consul of Austria–Hungary, a new church was erected in 1885–1886 .
The Protestant Church
The Evangelic community also erected a church, in 1892, which served the growing number of Protestant believers from Constanţa and the neighbouring villages. In 1902 the community numbered 1,100 persons, and the church was maintained with the support of the Protestant consistory of Berlin .
The “Metamorphosis” Church (about 1900)
The “Metamorphosis” Church (about 1900)
Picture 18.104.22.168_3 Constanţa Cathedral
Picture 22.214.171.124_4 “St. Nicholas” Bulgarian Church
Din tezaurul documentar dobrogean, edited by Marin Stanciu (Bucharest: Direcţia Generală a Arhivelor Statului din RSR, 1988), 61–62.
 M. D. Ionescu, Cercetări asupra oraşului Constanţa. Geografie şi istorie (Bucharest: Tipografia şi Fonderia de litere Thoma Basilescu, 1897), 47; Situaţiunea generală a judeţului Constanţa la începutul anului 1903. Expunere întocmită de Scarlat Vârnav (Constanţa: Tipografia Aurora, 1904), 93.
 Serviciul Judeţean Constanţa al Arhivelor Naţionale, Fond Comunitatea greacă, Description of the archival fund, 1–2; the documents are presented in Dobrogea între medieval și modern, 1406–1918, edited by Virgil Coman, Carmen Dobrotă, Claudia Turcitu (Constanța: Ex Ponto, 2008), 54–57, 66–67. Details on the church in Adrian Rădulescu, Stoica Lascu, Puiu Haşotti, Ghid de oraş. Constanţa, (Bucharest: Sport Turism, 1985), 65–66 and http://www.elpis.ro/pdf/monumente-grecesti-constanta.pdf.
Ghid, 66–67; Dobrogea, 142–143, 166–167; Doina Păuleanu, Axa Est–Vest. Constanţa – Istorie şi dinamică interculturală, second edition (Constanţa: Fundaţia Pro Arte, 2000), 144–157. An entire monograph was recently published on the Cathedral: Doina Păuleanu, Virgil Coman, Catedrala Sf. Apostoli Petru şi Pavel Constanţa 1883–2008 (Constanţa: Editura Arhiepiscopiei Tomisului, 2008).
 Mihail Măldărescu, Din istoricul oraşului Constanţa, first edition (Constanţa: Tipografia ziarului Dobrogea Jună, 1935), 15.
 Rădulescu, Lascu, Haşotti, Ghid, 76.
 Păuleanu, Axa, 186–188; Eadem, Constanţa. Spectacolul modernităţii târzii. 1878–1928 (Constanţa: Muzeului de Artă Constanţa, 2005), vol. II, 300–305; http://www.constanta.djc.ro/ObiectiveDetalii.aspx?ID=1069.
 Simion Tavitian, Armenii dobrogeni în istoria și civilizația românilor, second edition (Constanța: Ex Ponto, 2004), 17, 22, 35.
 Ionescu, Cercetări, 47.
 Serviciul Judeţean Constanţa al Arhivelor Naţionale, Fond Comunitatea evanghelică luterană, description of the archival fund, 1–2.
The site of the Greek community in Constanţa
The site of the Constanţa Direction for Culture and Patrimony
Serviciul Judeţean Constanţa al Arhivelor Naţionale [The National Archives, Constanţa Branch], Fond Comunitatea greacă [The Greek Community], files starting with 1863.
Serviciul Judeţean Constanţa al Arhivelor Naţionale [The National Archives, Constanţa County, Fond Comunitatea evanghelică luterană [The Lutheran Evangelic Community], files starting with 1883.
Dobrogea între medieval și modern, 1406–1918 [Dobrudja between Medieval and Modern, 1406–1918], edited by Virgil Coman, Carmen Dobrotă, Claudia Turcitu (Constanța: Ex Ponto, 2008).
Ionescu, M. D., Cercetări asupra oraşului Constanţa. Geografie şi istorie [Researches on the City of Constanţa. Geography and History] (Bucharest: Tipografia şi Fonderia de litere Thoma Basilescu, 1897).
Măldărescu, Mihail, Din istoricul oraşului Constanţa [From the History of Constanţa City], first edition (Constanţa: Tipografia ziarului Dobrogea Jună, 1935).
Păuleanu, Doina, Axa Est–Vest. Constanţa – Istorie şi dinamică interculturală [The East – West Axis – History and Intercultural Dynamics], second edition (Constanţa: Fundaţia Pro Arte, 2000).
Păuleanu, Doina, Coman, Virgil, Catedrala Sf. Apostoli Petru şi Pavel Constanţa 1883–2008 [The St. Apostles Peter and Paul Cathedral of Constanţa 1883–2008] (Constanţa: Editura Arhiepiscopiei Tomisului, 2008).
Păuleanu, Doina, Constanţa. Spectacolul modernităţii târzii. 1878–1928 [Constanţa. The Show of the Late Modernisation] (Constanţa: Muzeului de Artă Constanţa, 2005).
Rădulescu, Adrian, Lascu, Stoica, Haşotti, Puiu, Ghid de oraş. Constanţa [City Guidebook. Constanţa] (Bucharest: Sport Turism, 1985).
Tavitian, Simion, Armenii dobrogeni în istoria și civilizația românilor [The Armeanins from Dobrudja in the History and Civilisation of the Romanians], second edition (Constanța: Ex Ponto, 2004).