The Nativity Cathedral in Chisinau, a masterpiece of Neoclassicism

The Nativity Cathedral in Chisinau, a masterpiece of Neoclassicism

3 minutes to read

Being the capital of Moldova, Chisinau is commonly called a green European capital. The most convenient time to visit it is late spring, summer or early autumn when the city is drowning in the blossoming nature. Today, Chisinau has a lot of interesting places for tourists and visitors - museums, historical and architectural monuments, theaters and temples, parks and rivers, just to mention some of them. However, for culture enthusiasts, temples and cathedrals are perhaps the most interesting because each of them reflects a different timeline and a page of Moldavian history. The Cathedral of Christ's Nativity is a true masterpiece of Neoclassicism, situated right in the center of the city. Almost every resident walks or drives by this temple once in a day. Since it will be impossible for you to miss it when you visit Chisinau, let me tell you more about it.

Picture © Credits to iStock/leonardospencer
Picture © Credits to iStock/leonardospencer

Holly bells chime

The cathedral is situated in the heart of Chisinau, making a part of the ensemble of the city center monuments, together with the "Arch of victory". The Nativity Cathedral was built in the 19th century according to the project by the architect Abraham Melnikov. This temple was planned as the main cathedral of the whole city, fully presenting the capital, its beauty and grace, which is true until nowadays. Also, this building became one of the best examples of Russian architecture in Chisinau. It is crowned with a magnificent dome, and six columns decorate the main entrance of the church. Every hour, you can hear the bells chime in the Bell Tower opposite the temple. That reminds everyone of the holy origins of this special place. 

Picture © Credits to iStock/HomoCosmicos
Picture © Credits to iStock/HomoCosmicos

Ups and downs

Like many other holy places, the cathedral had its ups and downs. During World War II, the Nativity Cathedral suffered from bombings. The restorations started almost immediately, the government didn't have enough money to restore it fast, so the works continued for many years. Together with that, services in the church were stopped, and the temple halls were used only as exhibition halls. Many years later, the city government gave an order to built a fountain in front of the cathedral, and soon enough, in 1989, the Nativity Temple was made a church again - the exhibitions were replaced with the altar, icons and other things, kept from the past times. In 1991, large-scale reconstruction works began in the church, and in 1996, the Cathedral of Christ's Nativity got its final appearance, that we see nowadays. Still, the restoration of the interior of the church continues, and even today, there are some halls that are under the reconstruction. 

Picture © Credits to iStock/starush
Picture © Credits to iStock/starush

Elegance, royalty and eternity 

Considering the importance of the building, at the beginning of its erecting, architects paid much attention to the elegance, royalty and eternity of the Nativity Cathedral's style. To make those things real, great architects who had huge experience in many projects throughout the Russian Empire were invited to Chisinau. As a result, the temple represents a masterpiece of the Neoclassical architecture. It is a combination of Byzantine style with a hint of the Renaissance and Greek motives. Until now, it is a symbolic place not only for the Christians who come to pray here, bless the dishes during Easter and meet the Holy Fire but also for every tourist who comes to Moldova.  As you could understand, the magnificent Nativity Cathedral is a popular landmark of Chisinau, and every tourist should, at least, make a photo of it. Note that there is a possibility to come inside free of charge. However, women have to cover their heads. In addition, you can make beautiful and creative photos with pigeons that walk and fly across the square. 

The Cathedral of Christ's Nativity, Chisinau
The Cathedral of Christ's Nativity, Chisinau
Piața Marii Adunări Naționale 12, Chișinău, Молдавия

Cover picture © Credits to iStock/starush

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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