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History of Chisinau

REF NR: 8428
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Moldavian Principality (1436 - 1812)

The first historical dates of Chisinau refer to July 17th, 1436. We can examine these facts in Stephen and Ilya Oancea authorised documents. They were governors of Moldova as well as the heads of the Lord's office. In this official paper it is revealed that the Moldovan border was on the river Reut, and also about the Chisinau settlement on the river Bic. It was situated on the valley of Kishineuluy lui Akbash near Tatar village that is located close to source of water near a small forest. In this way is described our Chisinau, and at that time it was still a young development.

Today at this place rises the church of Mazarakievsky, from this location is considered to date Kishinev history from. Thus the local water source gave name to our capital. This document is what allowed for the rule of this Albisoara settlement, it is said about Chisinau in 1466. The actual Certificate degreed by the Moldovan monarch Stefan the Great was handed to Boyard Vlaykulu his uncle.  According to these papers, the descendants of Vlaykula owned this territory for 100 years.

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During the Ottoman Yoke and as a result of the constant attacks from the Crimean Tatars and Turks - starting from around the middle of the XVI century the fast development and growth of our city declined. Constant extortions led the country to the economic crisis and finally, to a real depression.

Permanent devastation of boyars and patrimonial estate lands could not have a good affect on the condition of the country’s treasury. Earlier, Chisinau was much smaller of course, and its boundaries were rather different in comparison to the present time – dotted around the city were such villages as Vovintseny, Hruska, Visternicheny, Muncheshti, Buiucani, later on they would join the city.

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It should be mentioned that Chisinau was twice incinerated during the Russian -Turkish wars - in 1739 and in 1788. Early borders of Chisinau were formed by the following streets as Alexandru cel Bun to River Bic, Anton Pann, Petru Rares and Armenian Street. Our contemporary railway station was at that time situated outside of Chisinau.

Since these times two buildings still exist: the Church of St. Constantine and Helen (1777 - year of construction) and Mazarakii Church or Church of the God Mother Protection (it was built in 1752). Construction of this church was sponsored by Vasile Mazarakii - Treasurer. These monuments were built in the old Moldavian style - three leafed with a two- levelled arch that supports the dome

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It is possible that the Bulgarian Church of St. George, dated of 1818 year, was also built at the same time.

Bessarabia Province (1812-1918)

After the Russian Turkish wars around 1812, the territory between the rivers Prut, Danube and Dniester became the Russian province given the name of Bessarabia.  In 1818 Chisinau officially got the status of a city, its first head became Angel Nour. Thanks to this new found status, Chisinau became the centre of Bessarabia province.

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There is some evidence that this happened due to that of bribery, which happened during the process of being handed over by the Armenian merchants to the Russian administration. Thus, Chisinau left behind Bender city, although A.N Bakhmetiev - the first governor of the region was said to be against this move. However, many good things for this realisation took hold instigated by the Metropolitan Banulesku - Bodoni, building the new centre of Bessarabia Eparchy on monastic lands. Because of this the city began a period of rapid growth and development. Many new merchants flocked together into the city as well as people getting involved thanks to timing and right benefits on offer.

Engineer Michael Ozmidov in 1813 drew up and created the first map of Chisinau, which has kept until our days. It revealed that at that time in the XIX century Kishinev looked to people like a dirty city with mud houses, and these were decorated with reed roofs, and were not even obvious boundaries of the streets or blocks. We can even find documentary evidence of such buildings in today's street, being set out by that of  Metropolitan Gabriel Banulescu Bodoni who was at that time the Seminary, Kiev Street named in the August 31, 1989, and now Pushkin Street became Provincial.

The most important street was Moscow Street; it was a road near the town, where the military camp of Russia was stationed in 1789. River Bic was not so dry - it flowed and brought a lot of benefits to people; there were various installations and accessories for the furs and leather processing as well as leather tanning and manufacturing. The mill functioned on the Bic River and was always very busy, clouds of flies and mosquitoes hovered over the river. The great river always reminded the people of its ferocious ability to flood during the rains and precipitations, whenever in spring or the autumn periods.

In 1818 under the Ozmidov plan the construction the old city started to move towards the west direction. This area was called the upper city, dduring this time there began to appear far better and  beautiful wide and straight streets.  Moscow (Stefan cel Mare), Golded (as known today is Str. Alexandru cel Bun) Kaushanskaya (Columna).
In 1814 the Metropolitanate building, is today that of Government House started as a  Theological Seminary, along with private merchants and boyars Homes of Donich, Katarzhi, Bartholomew, various big merchants and the officials.

The city increasingly improved, gradually transforming itself from a village settlement into a beautiful city, always striving to grow better,  the then city park, today is the park of Stefan cel Mare, and was then enclosed with a wicker - fence, in order to prevent the entering of domestic animals (like goats or cows) into the city area. Thanks to architect Bernardazzi in approximately 1863 - 67 years this was upgrade to that of a cast - iron fence, which proved far better.

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It is interesting fact that Kishinev in the early XIX century it has been proclaimed as the centre of the revolt in the Balkan countries; this is thought to be because of the large number of Greek revolutionaries in residence.  They were under the guidance of A. Ypsilanti, who wanted to throw the Turkish yoke.

Theological Seminary was opened in 1813, and the Regional Gymnasium in 1833. At the end of the XIX century the Cathedral was rebuilt, but it did had interrupted functionality during the reign of the USSR.

Everyone's favourite and possible Russia’s greatest poet Alexander Pushkin was in residence in Chisinau due to deportation from September 1820 to July 1823. Being a revolutionary in his soul and heart, Pushkin worked closely with the Moldovan writers such as C. Negruzzi, K. Stamati as well as he becoming friends with the Decembrists (V.F Raevskii, M.F Orlov, P. S. Pushchin, K.A Okhotnikov etc.). They were apparently all members of the “Welfare Alliance”.

On the place of today's Central Market in 1825 there was opened a new market. It was originally designed for the sale of manufactured goods.

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For more convenience and water provisioning wells were constructed from 1829 to 1834. Thus the source of drinking water was established and developed and fully equipped next to the Mazarakii church.  The funding came from the treasury of the City Council or Municipal Duma. Horses with barrels took the water to the needed places, so the whole city was supplied with drinking water.

In 1834 Glening and Eytner laid the master plan for the city development until 1949. According to it, there was identified the city centre, it was the central park (today is the Cathedral Park) and the square area, as well as obvious structure of the streets. This pattern or template was taken from the building plans of the southern Russian cities. In order to make the old city plan straighter some houses and blocks were demolished and new buildings were built.

In the 1830’s Kishinev was the centre of the Eparchy in Bessarabia, respectively it started the construction of the Central Cathedral. The architect of this ensemble is Abraham Melnikov, and it was designed and created in the style of that of late Russian classicism. The Central Cathedral was initially designed as the Cathedral of the Christ Nativity and the Belfry Campanili. Even in those days it was fairly large and a significant construction landmark and for a long time this became an objects of attention. The Cathedral is situated into a scenic and beautiful park. In October 13th, 1836 the blessing consecration of the Cathedral and the Belfry was held. In June 1941, the church and bell tower were bombed. By 1956, the temple ensemble was fully restored and it got the status of an architectural monument. Apparently there was even a time when in place of the bell tower there was built a swimming pool, but soon the belfry was returned to its parishioners.

A German Lutheran Church of St. Nicholas was built in 1833, but it was destroyed and today on this place is the Presidential Palace.

The Arc de Triumph is set in 1840 in the honour of the victory. It is located in front of Cathedral Park, and praises the victory of the Russian army against the Turks. This idea was sponsored by the Governor - General Vorontsov, and was designed by the architect I.M Zaushkevich. It was intended to hold a 400 pound bell on top of the Arch, which had to be cast from the captured guns from Izmail fortress. It is beautiful square building of white stone, divided into two tiers that rise up to 13 meters. Rectangular openings shine through in two directions, another 4 Corinthian columns decorated with a frieze on the cornice on pedestals. Continued with an upper tier processed blade and also finished on the ledge. Watches are installed in front of the Arch on the Square and beat out the current time in Chisinau every 15 minutes.

On the places of the Academy of Economic Studies buildings, between the hotel "Dawn" and the Cosmonauts street there was opened the Elias grocery market - in 1855 and worked well until 1970.

Merchant Theodore Ciuflea gave money to build a church of St.Theodore of Tyrone in 1856 and from 1962 to 2000 it turned into the Theodore-Tyrone a women’s convent and was the only women’s monastery in Chisinau.

Streets paving began in 1862.

Lovely railway station building was destroyed during the war. This three - story construction has always been distinguished by elegance of forms and shape, perfection and excellence of style latterly it was restored. The main railway lines and its building facilities were built in 1871. Tiraspol - Chisinau line had already started running in August 1871.

In 1877, on 12th of April began the Russian -Turkish war, after the Russian Emperor Alexander II declares war to Porte, reading out the manifesto of this in front of Moldovan, Bulgarian and Russian militia men. Russia wins, and thus the Bulgarian state was formed. Before sending troops to the Balkans, a chapel was constructed a chapel and a parade organised.

The first “Museum of Ponta Scythian" was opened in 1880,  today however, it does not exist anymore on the city map.

Alexander vocational school was opened in October 4, 1881, at the corner of the Kiev and Izmail streets.

Thanks to that of some generous donations in 1885, and a total sum of 1000 gold roubles, it became possible to establish the monument in the honour of Alexander Pushkin – the sculptor A.M Opekushin made a great effort and did his very best. This thus became Chisinau’s the second monument to the great genius.
On the pedestal are engraved the following words: "Here, with the resounding lyre in the northern desert, I wandered ... 1820, 1821, 1822, and 1823."

The cities water supply began with the construction of two water towers in 1892. The first artesian well was built in 1905, to a depth of which is measured 131.5 meters. A shallower well appeared in 1923 - its depth is only 70.29 meters, later on it was further deepened to 123 meters. Both wells were built in the yard of the water-plant - on the right bank of the river Bic, which is about 44 meters above the sea level.

Kishinev crushing defeat took place in April 6th-7th, 1903. The outcome of which was the murder of 47 Jews, 700 looted and burned houses, many wounded people. Against tsar performances on 19th – 20th October 1905 resulted into the murder of another 19 Jews.

In 1910 in Chisinau numbered about 10 thousand homes, 12 squares, 142 alleys, streets and blocks, 5 squares and gardens. There is very remarkable references about Chisinau which transcribes ; in the 12th - volume of the encyclopaedia of Mauritius Wolff and the 5th volume, edited by Semenov-Tyan- Shan – “Chisinau looked not like a village, like most cities in Russia but like an Europe town- its 3-4 streets, but the rest of Chisinau - all Asia was reflected in it.”

Alongside the city Jewish community school (Talmud - Torah) in 1913 there was built a Choral Synagogue. The total area of the monumental building is 1350 square meters, with a tin coating and rich ornamentation, arches, facades and cornices. Of course, not much can be seen of this construction from that time - but some survived and remained, this is the modern Russian Drama Theatre “Anton Chekhov”.

The development of industry in Chisinau expanded thanks to railways growth that connected our city with the port cities of the Black Sea and the Danube river regions, as well as with the central regions of Russia and Western Europe. Functioned such industry as metalworking plants and enterprises of Mocanu, Lange, Serbova.

The City Administration

The first city council consisted of 5 members of different nationalities - Russian, Moldavian, Bulgarian, Greek and Jewish. In 1818 the first Mayor was elected being the city’s administration head and was a Angel Nour (the former Moldovan military person with the rank of captain). For a more professional solution for local judicial matters there was set up in 1819 a magistrate, Burgomaster (supervisor) and two Aldermen lead this bureau. This administrative - judicial institution functioned until 1866, its the first Burgomaster was Stavrou Dima.

Historical revolutionary development

In the 1870s a public society was formed from a group of like minded people, the leader of which  was named Nicolae Zubcu - Codreanu. The main purpose of this society was circulate propaganda among youth and promote education. A further group of people gathered under the labour goal and was headed by F.N Denish in 1880 it started its activity. It was the beginning of the revolutionary alliance that bound all together the revolutionaries from Petersburg, Kiev and Odessa.

This working class tendency emerged further in the 1890’s. The Social Democratic circle originated in 1896, and in the year 1900 thus was formed in Chisinau the Social Democratic Party, which was part of the RSDLP. Underground press newspaper "Iskra" (“Sparkle”) was set up in April 1901, and it will function until March of 1902. It appeared thanks to the initiative of Lenin. The committee of the RSDLP was formed in Chisinau in 1902. Revolutionary activities also influenced the political instable situation in Bessarabia which is why political strikes and demonstrations have taken place in Chisinau on 21-22 August, in October 1, 1905 and so on.
Soon there in Chisinau Bolshevik organisation was formed, it was rather strong and independent society. On the 1st (14th) of January, 1918 – it was established the Soviet authority and control in Chisinau, this implementation was actively forged together by E. I. Yakir, G.I. Kotovskij, I. Garkavyi, I.P. Godunov, J.D. Meleshin, E.M. Venediktov and the others.

As a part of Romania (1918-1940)

In November 21st sees the formation of  the Council of the Country - "Sfatul Tarii", it happened after the revolution of 1917. On the 2nd of December so-called "Sfatul Tarii" declares the establishment of the Moldavian Democratic Republic. The "Sfatul Tarii" adopts a proposal for law for allowing the entering of Romanian troops in order to perform riot control, to look after and guard railways lines as well as being on loan from another country – this idea was raised by P. Erhan from the Peasants fraction. This law was adopted in December 28th, 1917 and passed by a majority vote.

The Romanian troops entered the Moldovan ground on the 8th of January, walking into the southern and northern regions.

So in order to protect Bessarabia, there was initiated the Command Control Centre of the Bessarabia was under the protection of by the initiative of Balti County Council Peasants' Deputies.
For the saving of the Moldavian republic there was created the Revolutionary Committee, which included representatives from Tiraspol, Bender and even Crimea.

Due to the superiority in numbers of the Romanian army and the bloody fighting that ensued, the revolutionary headquarters decides to quit work on the territory of Bessarabia. On January,13th  the Romanian troops thus occupied Chisinau . It is triumphantly celebrated on 15th of January. I. Inkuletsa holds a grandiose meeting of “Sfatul Tarii” in the honour of E. Broshtyanu – the Romanian general.

The Opposition is tries to fight on against the Romanian monopoly – the Provincial Peasant Congress begins its work, but to no avail, as it was eventually dispersed. Moreover, the initiators of the congress - its members Chumatchenko P., I. Pantari, Prahnitskiy, Kotoros and Rudiev were accused and by order of Movila – the commandant of Chisinau they were shot.

March 27th is celebrated as Independence Day by contemporary people, which is really strange due to the fact that namely on this day in 1918 that Bessarabia joined Romania and Chisinau was thus automatically entered into its union. On 25th or 26th November in 1918 at a meeting of “Sfatul Tarii”, even taking into account that it was lack of a quorum, a law was passed despite the fact that many were against it.

Only 36 votes decided the destiny of the country, Bessarabia joined Romania. Immediately after this decision, the “Sfatul Tarii” scatters into many different directions. Many MPs were against it and a memorandum was sent to the Romanian government in order to try re-establish the Bessarabian autonomy from March 28th. Unfortunately, the claim were rejected.

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The Municipal Conservatory opens on January 1st 1919, followed by the Faculty of Theology in 1927. A Monument to Stefan cel Mare (its sculptor was A. Plamadyale) placed in 1928. Earlier on this place was a monument to the Russian Emperor Alexander II. The Romanian branch of the Institute of Social Sciences opened in 1934, the municipal Picture Gallery in 1939.

The demographics during these periods are really not an easy thing to quantify, but it known that there was a real need to give birth, although people were very busy with other issues. In 1940, only 110,000 people lived in Chisinau.

Although the Romanian authorities were virtually in control of the Moldovan cabinet and chairs, an underground Communist Organisation with I. Furtuna, C. Sarbu and P. Tkachenko had begun to raise anti Romanian policies and ideals.


As to the education sector it started fast expanding among children, teenagers and young people so that they could learn. 38 elementary schools, 4 secondary schools, 4 high schools, 3 women’s and 4 men's Lyceums were opened for young people.

Moldavian SSR (1940-1991)

After June 28th, 1940, the Soviet troops entered Chisinau, and on August 2nd, it proclaimed that the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic with its capital in Chisinau.

The State National Philharmonic Society was inaugurated in 1940, the same the Pedagogical University (today it is the Pedagogical University named after I. Creanga) was created, and a little later in November that year was opened the National Museum of Fine Arts.

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In 1940 there was a strong earthquake, many architectural and cultural monuments suffered, for example, the Cathedral was virtually totally destroyed.

Wartime Chisinau fought either under Romanians or Russian control.

Chisinau immediately underwent an aviation bombardment. After which the Romanian troops entered Chisinau and hoisted the Romanian flag on July 16th 1941. It flew over the Dome of the Cathedral. As a foretaste of the cherry on the cake Marshal Ion Antonescu and Mihai – the King of Romania, was seen wandering about Chisinau and examining it as it was their own possession and private property.

The Romanian Gendarmerie and Einsatzgruppen unit “D" took away - about 14,000 Jewish men, and they were killed on July 17th . Then again selected 450 girls and young people again 411 of were later shot, then another 500 people were gathered - 300 of them were also killed.

Jewish ghetto was set up in July 25th by the order of the commandant of Chisinau. Only 2 days were given for the resettlement of Jews. Already by August 11th , there were 10,578 people incarcerated, and in the autumn, this figure reached 11,525 people. Jews were collected from everywhere, from the capital or the nearby villages - all were transported and contained within the ghetto. This numbers grew and grew From August 5th, the Jews were obliged to wear a distinctive six-pointed star sign on their clothing.

Romanians created the Jewish Committee in July 1941. This committee was formed of 22 "smart Jews." They were engaged in social activities and social work and organised about 200 lunches per day. The orphanage for 28 orphans was opened on September 11th. Romanian authorities then began methodically to get rid of the Jews - they were deported to Transnistria. This deportation got the name of the "death march” - as people walked on their foot to Transnistria. All those who were sick or could not walk were shot dead straight on the road. Thus in Odessa region, village Domanevka arrived only 160 people from 2500 - the rest of people were shot along the way.

The 5th Attack Army under the guidance of General Berzarin from the 23rd of August to the 24th, 1944 held Iasso and thus began the Kishinev operation. During the fighting the Russian army captured the city, although there were not strong fights on the actual territory of Chisinau, the city however was so badly damaged, that almost 70% of the housing was lost. All businesses were destroyed. Soon Antonescu was found and arrested in Romania during the revolution.

From the Victory to the USSR Collapse

World War II left a very big whole in the lives of all the people, but soon after the war it is obvious a fairly rapid growth was required. There were 134,000 people in 1950 in comparison with the year 1944 when there were only 25 thousand inhabitants. For development and economic reconstruction, agriculture and all other sectors from the Soviet Union came around 1,500 people being - specialists - doctors, teachers, and engineers. A further great gift the city received in 1945 was when the whole Second Leningrad Medical Institute arrived in Chisinau. He brought a very big and valuable library, its pearl and prime achievement was that of the manuscripts of Avicenna.

Gradually, and cultural life of the city also revived and began to develop. Folk Dance Ensemble “Joc" was created in August 13th1945. Today, this group is very well known worldwide.

The famous architect Alexei Shchusev creates in the 1945-1947 the master plan for Chisinau reconstruction. According to this plan it is needed to restore old houses and build new building, build new highways, green spaces, squares, parks, build public and administrative buildings. Stefan cel Mare Avenue as it was and remained the main street of the capital - only at different times its name has changed. Botanica, Riscani Buiucani, Cecani - those new sleeping areas, which started to develop. After the war was laid the beautiful Youth Prospect, today it is Renasterii Boulevard.

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Around the city there was planned to create parks and recreation areas. Architect L. Chuprina supported by A. Shchusev designed the modern railway station building in 1948. Because of heavy rains the River Bic overflowed, flooding the first floor of the station.

• 1945 - the shop "Bookseller" in the city centre
• October 1, 1946 based the Kishinev State University
• Famine in the USSR in 1947-1948 years and it was in the capital of Moldova as well
• October 6, 1949 founded the Moldavian Academy of Sciences of the
• In 1949 began mass deportations to Siberia
• June 18, 1950 was founded the Botanical Garden of the Moldavian Academy
• In 1950, opened the first gas station in Chisinau
• In 1951 was founded the first beautiful green park around the artificial Komsomolsk lake (today it is named Valea Morilor)
• In 1951, in Chisinau, built the first 5 floors residential building
• In 1951, deportations to Siberia on religious grounds take massive nature
• January 24, 1957 is based the studio " Moldova-film "
• In 1957 inaugurates the Alley of Moldovan Classics in literature and art

In the late 1950s in Chisinau develop young industries like engineering and instrument- making sector. Processing and light industries are developing rapidly and productively. Wineries and tobacco plant are improved.

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1960 is the year of the "Luceafarul" theatre foundation, and "Moskov" cinema opened its doors in 1965.

In 1966, for "achievements in the building of communism" and in connection with the 500th anniversary Chisinau was awarded the Order of Lenin.

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In the late of 1960s, the park - Rose Valley was created in Botany district - its area is 145 hectares.

The Moldavian State Circus was founded in 1982 , the Organ Hall in September 15th , 1978 , the National Palace  in 1974 , the new building of the Opera and Ballet Theatre – in 1980.

A very important factor for our city development was the decision of the USSR Council of Ministers in 1971 "On measures for further development of Kishinev city", according to this decision; the city was given about one billion roubles for the further development.

In the 1980s, planned further development of the city and even announced a competition for the best detailed design. But this did not happen, since the Soviet Union collapsed.

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Since the late of 1970s gas been the continued development of the electronic industry .

Cableway was built in 1981, but was put into running only in 1990, and still frozen and not used.

In 1990, the city Mayor Office has been working again. The first mayor of Chisinau was N. Kostin.

The modern Republic of Moldova -Contemporary History (1991 -present)

On May 23rd, 1991 by the decision of the Parliament the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was changed into the Republic of Moldova. August 27th, 1991 - the day of the declaration of independence of the Republic of Moldova, according to this document Moldova is a sovereign state with its capital in Chisinau ...

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After this event, the construction in the Republic of Moldova is almost completely stopped. Many objects and construction objects were frozen. However, gradually it  started again and began the restoration of the old temples, churches, old buildings, monuments as well as construction of the new buildings, luxury homes, expensive apartments and glamorous luxurious mansions.

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The railway station was restored, Izmail street was widened, the bus station "North” was built; numerous office buildings and shops grow like mushrooms after the rain. Nowadays it is rather fashionable construction. But one of the negative aspects is that contractors begin construction wherever it is pleased, despite the fact of squares and parks zones.

Contact Details

Moldova, mun. Chisinau, c. Chişinău