Chisinau History, Moldova
Chisinau is the biggest city in Moldova and the county’s capital. Located in the center of the country, on the Bîc River, Chisinau has a sense of history like no other surrounding city: throughout the centuries, Chisinau was trampled down by migratory tribes, Turks and Tatars and was taken over by different states. The name of the city has its origin in two Romanian words ‘chisla’ (an archaic term for ‘spring’) and ‘noua’ (‘new’) – Romanians and Moldavians speak the same language; in Russian, Chisinau is spelled ‘Khisinev’.
Chisinau History – Middle Ages
Chisinau’s history officially begins in 1436, when the city is first mentioned in a Romanian document as a monastery village (since Russian historians consider that Chisinau was first attested in a charter issued by the Moldavian king Stefan cel Mare, in the 20th century, the city celebrated its 500-year anniversary two times). Nevertheless, Roman and Slavic coins prove the area has been inhabited from ancient times. During the Middle Ages Chisinau had a slow development: the Mongolian Golden Horde and the Crimean Tartars made several devastating raids. This is the reason why a chronicler wrote that Moldova is “a country in the way of all disasters”). In the 16th century, Moldova, including Chisinau, became an Ottoman province. In the 19th century, following the Russian-Turkish wars (1739, 1788), Chisinau gained the town rank and became the capital of the Bessarabian Gubernya, under Russian suzerainty. Testimonials from early 18th century talk about Chisinau as a muddy, unorganized country town. Much of the city’s present organization dates back to 1834, when an ambitious development plan determined the construction of several streets, water wells and buildings.
Chisinau History – Chisinau in the 20th century
Following the October Revolution, the Moldovan Democratic Republic was created on 2 December 1917. In the following year, Moldova became a part of the recently unified state Romania, with Bucharest as its capital (for more on Bucharest, see Bucharest Travel Guide and Bucharest History). During the next decades, various institutions were founded, such as the Municipal Conservatoire, the Municipal Art Gallery or the Faculty of Theology. The early ‘40s represent the darkest period in Chisinau history: during World War II, the city represented a battle ground for the Great Patriotic War, and was disputed between Russians and Romanians. The Soviet reconstruction plan following the war imposed a typical Stalinist architecture, with enormous buildings and colorless blocks of flats. From 1944 to 1990, Moldova was part of the Soviet Union: on 23 May 1991, the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic became the Republic of Moldova and proclaimed itself an independent state on 27 August 1991.
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