Chişinău (Romanian pronunciation: [kiʃiˈnəw]), is the capital and largest municipality of Moldova. It is also its main industrial and commercial centre and is located in the middle of the country, on the river Bîc. According to January 2011 official estimates, Chişinău proper has a population of 664,700 and the municipality of Chişinău is home to 789,500 residents.
Chişinău is the most economically prosperous locality in Moldova, and its largest transportation hub. As the most economically and socially important municipality in Moldova, the city has a broad range of educational facilities.
Founded in 1436 as a monastery village, the city was part of the Principality of Moldavia, 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, in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812), the eastern part of Moldavia was ceded to Russian Empire and Chişinău became the capital of the newly annexed gubernia of Bessarabia. Its population had grown to 92,000 by 1862 and to 125,787 by 1900.
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, which continued until the independence of Moldova in 1991. On March 4, 1977 the city was jolted by the terrible earthquake again. Several people were killed and a panic broke out.
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.
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.
Many modern-style buildings were built in the city since 1991. There are also a lot of office and shopping complexes that are modern, renovated or newly built; including Kentford, SkyTower, and Union Fenosa headquarters. However, the old Soviet-style clusters of living blocks are still an extensive feature of the cityscape.