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A post-Soviet city with a robust commercial outlook, Chisinau is the thriving industrial heart of Moldova. Its real joys are its many parks and recreation areas including the Stefan cel Mare Central Park. Punctuated with 50 species of trees, fine fountains, promenades, pathways and benches, it is the oldest park in the city and a favourite among strollers in the day (some Moldovans joke about romantic trysts calling it ‘Lovers’ park’). Also within the city limits, the verdant Rose Valley is a nine hectare park with three lakes and the intriguing remains of an ancient Slavonic sanctuary.
Founded in 1436 as a monastery village, the settlement of Chisinau changed hands several times throughout the centuries, passing through Ottoman, Russian and Romanian phases. It suffered significant damage and persecution under the Nazis, who bombed most of its historic buildings and ran a devastating campaign against its Jewish population.
After Chisinau was liberated by the Red Army, it became the capital of the newly created Soviet Republic of Moldova. Its population boomed and much of the city was rebuilt in Stalinist style including some sprawling suburbs filled with high density tower blocks.Read more
Following the fall of communism in 1989, the city retained its political and administrative role as a capital and the architectural legacy of the Soviet era remains one of its most striking features. Today, visitors arriving from Chisinau’s airport are confronted by the vast Gates of Chisinau.
Sadly, historical sites in Chisinau are quite sparse and most of the city’s surviving pre-war architecture is focussed on Cathedral Park, where you’ll find the Orthodox Nativity Cathedral and the 19th century Triumphal Arch. Fortunately, Chisinau does remain a bastion of culture and civilisation. It is home to numerous fine museums and universities including national institutions dedicated to archaeology and history, ethnography, nature and fine arts.