A brief history of Chisinau: the white stone city

A brief history of Chisinau: the white stone city

3 minutes to read

I often mention in my stories the capital of Moldova - Chisinau, that is a really amazing place to explore when you visit our country. Chisinau is a surprisingly green city, located on seven hills and stretched along the tributary of the Dniester, the river Bic, among parks and lakes. Our capital was founded around the year 1436, and history was not less eventful than the history of Moldova itself. From the oldest times until nowadays, Chisinau remains the city, originally made of white stone, that keeps its customs and traditions and brings them to the modern life of its residents. Here is its brief history.

Picture © Credits to iStock/Videologia
Picture © Credits to iStock/Videologia

A real national treasures storehouse 

Our city is truly the heart of Moldova because it is situated almost in the center of the country. That is how Moldavian people believe - it is a real storehouse of national treasures, gathering it right in the center of MoldovaJust imagine, Chisinau is the city that keeps all of the stages of its history - starting from different monuments of its first rulers, such as the one dedicated to Stefan cel Mare, up to the Soviet period architecture, for example, the Chisinau Gateways. Those stages are reflected in the National Museum of History of Moldova, making the full picture of the city, and the country in general. In addition, there are a lot of churches and even a monastery in Chisinau. On the hills of the city, Mazarakievskaya (1752), Ryshkanovskaya (1777) and Blagoveshchenskaya (1807) churches still exist and are open to visitors from all over the world. They have a three-petal plan that characterizes Moldavian medieval architecture. All of this decorates the city, making Chisinau really curious place to explore. 

Picture © Credits to iStock/frimufilms
Picture © Credits to iStock/frimufilms

The roots of its name

The roots of the name "Chisinau" are not fully identified, as it is usual for the city of this age. However, according to one of the versions, the city's name comes from a combination of archaical Romanian words - "Chişla nouă" (meaning "a New bowery" or "a New spring (of water)"). That is symbolical, as Chisinau was built on the place of a small spring. Nowadays, it is the corner of Pușkin and Albișoara Streets. The formation of this name has interesting nature - one part is Turkic ("chisla") and the other is Romanian ("noua"), which is why modern researchers doubt about the truthfulness of this origin. The other version tells that for several centuries the name "chisinau" was the place of nomads concentration. Thus, some researchers suggest that the name of the city is not of Romanian, but Turkic origin. They consider that the word originated from the Polovtsian word "kishit", meaning “a burial place", "a mausoleum”. In the Russian language, it is known as "Кишинёв". Historically, the English version "Chisinau" was based on the modified Russian one because it entered there with the help of Russian language when Chisinau was situated on the Russian Empire's land.

Picture © Credits to Wikipedia
Picture © Credits to Wikipedia

A special status of Chisinau

The city of Chisinau has a special status in the administrative division of Moldova - it is a municipality. Thus, having this status, the Chisinau city includes: the actual city of Chisinau, six surrounding cities (Sîngera, Durleshty, Vatra, Codru, Vadul-lui-Voda, Cricova) and twenty-five settlements united in thirteen villages or, how we call them, communes. This whole municipality is divided into five sectors. Those are: Center (mold. Centru, Centru), Buiucani (mold. Buyukani), Botanica, Ryshkanovka (mold. Riscani) and Ciocana (mold. Chokana). The residents of the city feel very comfortable to move from one part of the city to another because the urban transport is developed quite good. Each district has its own shopping mall, its parks and lakes as well as entertainment activities. 

Picture © Credits to iStock/CalinStan
Picture © Credits to iStock/CalinStan

Chisinau was originally made of white stone, which gives the city purity and virgin beauty. In addition, it is often called "the green city" because of the grass and trees that cover almost the whole Chisinau. But, after the weather disasters in April 2017, many trees were cut, and it became naked. However, it is still gorgeous and interesting for foreign visitors. I recommend you to come to Chisinau from April to October when the weather is good. You surely won't regret it, as its brief history suggests.

Cover picture © Credits to iStock/alex-mit

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The author

Vladlena Martus

Vladlena Martus

My name is Vladlena and I am originally from Moldova. Currently I’m based in Saint-Petersburg where I study journalism. I love writing, traveling and taking photos, trying to enjoy my life as much as I can!

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