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Chişinău ( ; in the past also known as Kishinev, Kishinyov), is the capital and largest municipality of Moldovamarker. It is also its main industrial and commercial centre and is located in the middle of the country, on the river Bîcmarker. The city is the most economically prosperous locality in Moldova, and its largest transportation hub. As the most economically and socially important municipality in Moldova, Chişinău has a broad range of educational facilities. The proportion of green spaces in the city is one of the highest among major European cities.


According to one version, the name comes from the archaic Romanian word chişla (meaning "spring", "source of water") and nouă ("new"), because it was built around a small spring. Nowadays, the spring is located at the corner of Pushkin and Albişoara streets.

There is another city named Chişineumarker (alternative spelling: Chişinău) in Western Romaniamarker, near the border with Hungarymarker, but its relation to Chişinău is disputed. Its Hungarian name is Kisjenő (kis "small" + the eponym "Jenő"), from which the Romanian name originates .

Chişinău is also known in Russian as Кишинёв (Kishinyov). It is written Kişinöv in the Latin Gagauz alphabet. It was also written as Кишинэу in the Moldovan Cyrillic alphabet in Soviet times. Historically, the English language name for the city, "Kishinev", was based on the modified Russian one because it entered the English language via Russian at the time Chişinău was part of the Russian Empiremarker (e.g. Kishinev pogrom). Therefore, it remains a common English name in some historical contexts. Otherwise, however, the Romanian-based "Chişinău" has been steadily gaining wider currency, especially in the written language.


Chişinău gardens
Chişinău is located on the river Bîcmarker, a tributary of the Dniestermarker, at , with an area of 120 km². The whole municipality claims 635 km².

The city lies in the middle of the central area of Moldova.

Geographically convenient in the largely flat Eastern European country, the city is surrounded by a relatively level landscape with very fertile ground, offering the basis for the cultivation of grapevine and fruit since medieval times.


Chişinău has a continental climate, characterized by hot dry summers and cold windy winters. Winter temperatures are often below 0°C, although they rarely drop below −10°C. In summer, the average temperature is approximately 25°C, however, temperatures sometimes reach 35–40°C in mid-summer in the city center. Although average precipitation and humidity during summer is low, there are infrequent yet heavy storms. Spring and autumn temperatures vary between 16–24°C, and precipitation during this time tends to be lower than in summer but with more frequent yet milder periods of rain.

Typical temperatures and precipitation for each month:


Moldova is administratively subdivided into 3 municipalities, 32 districts, and 2 autonomous units. Chişinău is one of these municipalities.Besides the city itself, the municipality comprises 34 other suburban localities: 6 cities/towns (containing further 2 villages within), and 12 communes (containing further 14 villages within). The population at the 2004 Moldovan Census is shown in brackets:




Founded in 1436 as a monastery village, the city was part of the Moldavian Principality, which, starting with the 16th century fell under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. At the beginning of the 19th century it was a small town of 7,000 inhabitants. In 1812 it was came under Russian imperialmarker administration, which made it the capital of the newly annexed gubernia of Bessarabiamarker. Its population had grown to 92,000 by 1862 and to 125,787 by 1900.

Industrial age

Chişinău, 1889.
By 1834, an imperial townscape with broad and long roads had emerged as a result of a generous development plan, which divided the city roughly into two areas: The old part of the town – with its irregular building structures – and a newer City Center and station. Between 26 May 1830 and 13 October 1836 the architect Avraam Melnikov established the 'Catedrala Naşterea Domnului' (an Eastern Orthodox cathedral) with a magnificent bell tower. In 1840 the building of the Triumphal archmarker, planned by the architect, Luca Zaushkevich, was completed. Following this the construction of numerous further buildings and landmarks began. The town also played an important part in a war between Russia and Turkey (1877–78), as the main staging area of the Russian invasion.

Pogrom and pre-revolution

In the late 19th century, especially due to growing anti-semitic sentiment in the Russian Empiremarker and better economic conditions, many Jews chose to settle in Chişinău. By the year 1900, 43% of the population of Chişinău was Jewish – one of the highest numbers in Europe.

However, during 6–7 April 1903 a large anti-Semitic riot took place in the town, which would later be known as the Kishinev pogrom. The events spanned three days of rioting, with 47–49 Jews killed, 92 severely wounded, and 500 suffering minor injuries. In addition, several hundred houses and many businesses were plundered and destroyed. The pogroms are largely believed to have been incited by anti-Jewish propaganda in the only official newspaper of the time, 'Bessarabetz' (Бессарабецъ). The reactions to this incident included a petition to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia on behalf of the American people by the US President Theodore Roosevelt in July 1905.

On 22 August 1905 another bloody event occurred, whereby the police opened fire on an estimated 3,000 demonstrating agricultural workers. Only a few months later, 19–20 October 1905, a further protest occurred, helping to force the hand of Nicholas II in bringing about the October Manifesto. However, these demonstrations suddenly turned into an attack on Jews wherever they could be found, resulting in 19 deaths.

World War I

Following the Russian October Revolution the country declared independence from the crumbling empire, before joining the Kingdom of Romania. During this period, Chişinău was in the background, being regarded as no more than a large provincial city. Only with the advent of modern technology and industrialization, it slowly rose into prominence.

Between 1918 and 1940 the center of the city undertook large renovation work. In 1927 a monument to the famous prince Stephen III of Moldavia, by the sculptor Alexandru Plămădeală was erected.

World War II

In the chaos of the Second World War Chişinău was nearly completely destroyed. This began with the Soviet occupation by the Red Army on 28 June 1940. As the city began to recover from the takeover, a devastating earthquake occurred on 10 November 1940. The epicenter of the quake, which measured 7.3 on the Richter scale, was in eastern Romaniamarker and subsequently led to substantial destruction in the city.

After scarcely one year, the assault on the newly created Moldovan SSR by the German and Romanian armies began. Beginning with July 1941 the city suffered from large-scale shooting and heavy bombardments by Nazi air raids. The Red Army resistance held until Chişinău finally fell on 17 July 1941.

Following the occupation, the city suffered from the characteristic mass murder of its predominantly Jewish inhabitants. As had been seen elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the Jews were transported on trucks to the outskirts of the city and then summarily shot in partially dug pits. The number of Jews murdered during the occupation of the city is estimated at approximately 10,000 people.

As the war drew to a conclusion, the city was once more pulled into heavy fighting as German and Romanian troops retreated. Chişinău was taken by the Red Army on 24 August 1944 as a result of the Jassy-Kishinev Operation. By this point the city had lost about 70% of its buildings – the earthquake of 1940 and the air raids contributing to the largest part of this.

After the war, Bessarabia was fully integrated into the Soviet Union. Most of Bessarabia became the Moldavian SSR with Chişinău as its capital; smaller parts of Bessarabia became parts of the Ukrainian SSR.

Soviet Union

In the years 1947 to 1949 the architect Alexey Shchusev developed a plan with the aid of a team of architects for the gradual reconstruction of the city.

The beginning of the 1950s saw a rapid population growth, to which the Soviet administration responded by constructing large-scale housing and palaces in the style of Stalinist architecture. This process continued under Nikita Khrushchev, who called for construction under the slogan "good, cheaper and built faster". The new architectural style brought about dramatic change and generated the style that dominates today, with large blocks of flats arranged in considerable settlements.

The period of the most significant redevelopment of the city extended from 1971, when the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union adopted a decision "On the measures for further development of the city of Kishinev", which secured more than one billion rubles in investment from the state budget, until 1991, when Moldovamarker gained independence.

After independence

Many streets of Chişinău are named after historic persons, places or events. Independence from the Soviet Union was followed by a large-scale renaming of streets and localities from a Communist theme into a national one.

Politics and administration

The Government Building – seat of the Moldovan government
The presidential palace.
Chişinău is governed by the City Council and the City Mayor ( ), both elected once every four years. The current Mayor of Chişinău is Dorin Chirtoacă. His predecessor was Serafim Urechean. Under the Moldovan constitution, Urechean – elected to parliament in 2005 – was prevented from holding an additional post to that of an MP. The Democratic Moldova Bloc leader subsequently accepted his mandate and in April resigned from his former position. During his 11 year term, Urechean committed himself to the restoration of the church tower of the Catedrala Naşterea Domnului, as well as improvements in public transport. From 1994, Chişinău saw the construction and launch of new trolleybus lines, as well as an increase in capacities of existing lines, in order to improve connections between the urban districts.

Between 23 May and 10 June 2005, the Central Election Commission received applications of possible candidates for the office of mayor. The elections took place on 10 July, 24 July, 27 November and 11 December 2005. On the first occasion only 26.93% of voters participated, below the one-third turnout necessary to validate the poll. Three subsequent attempts in July, November and December saw the election turnout fall further to 19.82%, 22.37% and 22.07% respectively. After several months in limbo it was announced that the momentary office holder Vasile Ursu, could continue to hold the position, until the next scheduled elections in 2007.

The last elections took place on 3 June 2007. Two candidates emerged from the first round – Viaceslav Iordan from the Moldovan Communist party and Dorin Chirtoacă from the Liberal party. The second round of the voting on 17 June 2007 saw the victory of Mr. Chirtoacă. 36,26 % of the voters took part in the voting, just over the validation threshold.

The first mayor of Chişinău was Angel Nour in 1817. In 1941 the office was abolished. After the Soviet era and the re-establishment of the office in 1990 Nicolae Costin became the first democratically elected mayor.

Local government

Administrative sectors of Chişinău
The municipality in its totality elects a mayor and a local council, which then name 5 pretor, one for each sector. They deal more locally with a number of administrative matters. Each sector comprise part of the city itself and several suburbs:

* Sîngeramarker
** Dobrogea
** Revaca
* Băcioimarker
** Brăila
** Frumuşica
** Străisteni
* Durleşti
* Vatra
* Condriţamarker
* Ghidighicimarker
* Truşenimarker
** Dumbrava
* Codrumarker
* Vadul lui Vodă

* Bubuiecimarker
** Bîc
** Humuleşti
* Budeştimarker
** Văduleni
* Coloniţamarker
* Cruzeştimarker
** Ceroborta
* Tohatinmarker
** Buneţi
** Cheltuitori
* Cricovamarker
* Ciorescumarker
** Făureşti
** Goian
* Grătieştimarker
** Hulboaca
* Stăucenimarker
** Goianul Nou


Chişinău is the most economically developed and industrialized city in Moldova. It is a major industrial and services center; its main industries include consumer and electrical goods, building materials, machinery, plastics, rubber, and textiles. The main service fields are banking and shopping/commerce. The economy of Chişinău is mainly centered on industry and services, with the latter particularly growing in importance in the last ten years.



Chişinău has an international airportmarker, which offers connections to a number of major cities including Athensmarker, Bucharestmarker, Frankfurtmarker, Istanbulmarker, Londonmarker, Madridmarker, Milanmarker, Moscowmarker, Parismarker, Romemarker, Viennamarker and others. The airport handled 847,900 passengers in 2008. It has a 3 km long runway (8 and 26).

Bus and minibus

The most popular form of internal transport in Moldova is generally the bus. Bus services in Chişinău are inexpensive, ranging from 1 leu to 3 lei (ca. $0.10–0.30). Although the city has just three main terminals, buses generally serve as the means of transport between different cities within and outside of Moldova. Popular destinations include Tiraspolmarker, Odessamarker (Ukraine) and Iașimarker, Bucharestmarker (Romania).

Within Chişinău and its suburbs, privately operated minibuses, known as "marshrutkas" generally follow the major bus and trolleybus routes and appear more frequently. A minibus ride costs 3 lei within the city.


Railway Station exterior
Chişinău Railway Station

An international railway terminal exists with possible connections to Bucharestmarker, Kievmarker, Minskmarker, Odessamarker, Moscowmarker, Samaramarker, Varnamarker and Saint Petersburgmarker. Due to the simmering conflict between Moldova and the unrecognized Transnistria republicmarker the rail traffic towards Ukraine is occasionally stopped.


The city is home to 12 public and 11 private universities, to the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, as well as to a number of institutions offering both high-school education, as well as 1–2 years of college education.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Unionmarker, the city has become a relatively lively and well-provisioned capital, with a much higher standard of living than in most rural areas of the country.


Chişinău city hall
Botanica District
The city's growth plan was developed in the 19th century. Many buildings were designed and built in a beautiful architectural style, some remaining to this day. In 1836 the construction of the Cathedral and its belfry was finished. The belfry was demolished in Soviet times, but was rebuilt in 1997.

Modern architecture

Many modern-style buildings were built in the city since 1991. There are also a lot of office and shopping complexes – modern, renovated or newly built. These are Kentford, SkyTower, Union Fenosa headquarters and many others. However, the old Soviet-style clusters of living blocks are still an extensive feature of the cityscape.

People and culture


According to the World Gazetteer, the total population of the city proper was 647,513 in 2004.

According to the 2004 census, the population of the municipality was 712,218, of which that of the city itself 589,204.

Ethnic composition
Ethnic group 1930 census 2004 census
The city itself The municipality
Moldovans (Romanians) - 379,149 481,626 67.62%
Russians 19,631 92,690 99,149 13.92%
Ruthenians, Ukrainians 563
Ukrainians - 54,061 58,945 8.28%
Romanians 48,456 25,346 31,984 4.49%
Bulgarians 541 8,307 8,868 1.25%
Gagauzians 34 5,982 6,446 0.91%
Jews 41,065 2,603 2,649 0.37%
Poles 1,436 786 834 0.12%
Gypsies 896 273 507 0.07%
others 20,249 7,615 1.07%
Armenians 490
Albanians 22
Czechs, Slovaks 80
Croats, Serbs, Slovenes 86
Germans 979
Greeks 421
Hungarians 141
Tatars 7
Turks 48
did not declare 13,595 1.91%
Total 114,896 589,446 712,218 100%


There are four professional football clubs in Chişinău, all playing in the Divizia Naţională (national league): FC Zimbru Chişinău, FC Dacia Chişinău, FC Academia Chişinău and CSCA-Rapid Ghidighici. Of the larger public multiuse stadium in the city is the Stadionul Dinamo (Dinamo Stadium) which has a capacity of 2,692. The Zimbru stadiummarker, opened in May 2006 with a capacity of 10,500 sitting places, meets all the requirements for holding official international matches, and was the venue for all Moldova's Euro 2008 qualifying games. Chişinău was where David Beckham made his international football debut, in a 3–0 World Cup qualifying win for England on 1 September 1996.


The majority of Moldova's media industry is based in Chişinău. The only national broadcaster in the country is the state-owned Moldova 1, which has its head office in the city. The broadcasts of TeleradioMoldova have been criticized by the Independent Journalism Center as showing 'bias' towards the authorities. There are some hopes that a new broadcasting code will resolve some of these issues.

The Romanianmarker Pro TV Chişinău also broadcasts locally. It was repeatedly thwarted in its attempts to obtain a national license by the government. The station broadcasts a mixture of independent local news, in addition to entertainment and documentary programs from Romania. Pro TV remains on air despite numerous threats from Communist officials to close it down.

Other TV channels are Antena C, CTC, DTV, Euro TV, MTV, MuzTV, NIT and TV 7. In addition to television, most radio and newspaper companies have their headquarters in the city. Broadcasters include the national radio, Vocea Basarabiei, Antena C, BBC Moldova, Europa Libera, Kiss FM, Pro FM, Radio 21, Fresh FM (Romanian radio station Naţional FM), Radio Nova, Russkoe radio, Hit FM, and many others.

The biggest broadcasters are SunTV, Satellit and Zebra TV. In 2007 two companies SunTV and Zebra launched digital TV cable networks.

International relations

Twin Towns - Sister Cities

Chişinău is twinned with:


File:Chisinau Center4.jpg|Chişinău City CentreFile:Chisinau SalaCuOrga.jpg|Organ chamber (Sala Cu Orgă)File:Chisinau Winter.jpg|Winter in ChişinăuFile:Chisinau center 08 11 2005.jpg|City CentreFile:Stefan Chisinau.jpg|Monument to Ştefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great) of MoldovaFile:Vorota kishineva.jpg|"Gates of the city", Chişinău, MoldovaFile:Chi stefan park.jpg|Ştefan cel Mare Central ParkFile:Chisinau Piata Centrala.JPG|Piaţa CentralăFile:Water_Tower_Chisinau.jpg|Water Tower of Chişinăumarker

See also


  1. History of Chişinău on, Retrieved on 2008-10-12
  2. Moldovan Ministry for Local Public Administration, Moldovan Law 764-XV from December 27, 2001, Monitorul Oficial al Republicii Moldova, no. 16/53, December 29, 2001
  3. Virtual Kishinev, accessed 23 December 2007
  4. "Memories of the Holocaust: Kishinev (Chisinau) (1941-1944)" from
  5. Architecture of Chişinău on, Retrieved on 2008-10-12
  6. Moldovan Ministry for Local Public Administration, Moldovan Law 431-XIII from April 19, 1995, Monitorul Oficial al Republicii Moldova, no. 31-32/340, June 9, 1995
  7. Chişinău World Gazetteer
  8. 2004 census results in Moldova
  9. Since the independence of Moldova, there is an ongoing controversy over whether Romanians and Moldovans are the same ethnic group. At the census, every citizen could only declare one nationality. Consequently, one could not declare oneself both Moldovan and Romanian.
  10. 2003 World Press Freedom Review
  11. designated by Sister Cities International

Further reading

External links


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