Photo Essay of the Center of Moldova’s Capital: Chisinau

Having added Moldova to my Romania trip itinerary , Chisinau (pronounced KISH-now), its capital, had to be central to the visit as it is the main town in this country of approximately 3.6 million people (Chisinau itself has around 750,000 inhabitants).

Chisinau road sign, Moldova

Welcome to Chisinau

Street scene near central Chisinau, Moldova

Street scene near central Chisinau (and darkening skies!)

Street scene in Chisinau, Moldova

Bus stop scene in Chisinau

The city, which was founded in the 1430s, has a complex history since it was at the crossroads of various empires.  It is said that it had the largest proportion of Jewish population in Europe in 1900 at 43% of the city’s population.  The city was nearly destroyed in 1940 when the Soviets took over and the city was hit by an earthquake, and, later by Nazi attacks and occupation.  I saw old structures but not many that pre-date this period (to my untrained eye).  The Jewish population, as in other places, was wiped out to a good extent during the Nazi occupation.

Booth in Chisinau, Moldova

Perhaps one of the older structures around??!!

Some of the older architecture in Chisinau, Moldova

Example of older architecture in Chisinau, Moldova

City Hall, finished in 1901 but re-built after WW II due to the damage it sustained, is one of the best architectural pieces in town, built in Italian Gothic style.

City Hall of Moldova's capital city, Chisinau

Chisinau City Hall

Of course, a lot of buildings I saw are post-WW II.  Many of the big style government buildings, apartment bloc buildings, and hotels were built in that post-war period, with the implications to architecture that that entails…

Apartment blocs in Chisinau. Moldova

Apartment blocs, many in different states of repair

Parliament Building was damaged during demonstrations in 2009 and is under repair.  It used to house the Central Committee of the Communist Party during Soviet times.

Parliament Building in Chisinau, Moldova

Parliament Building

The now-abandoned National Hotel in Chisinau, Moldova

The now-abandoned National Hotel

Hotel Chisinau (open) in Moldova

Hotel Chisinau (open)

Telecom company building in Chisinau, Moldova

Office building

Presidential Palace in Chisinau, Moldova

Presidential Palace

Underground tunnel in Chisinau, Moldova

Underground tunnel for pedestrians – great artwork

Ministry of Agriculture in Chisinau, Moldova

Ministry of Agriculture

I enjoy looking at the architecture in a city to get a mental image of the place and how it evolved.  Clearly, history has been wiped out a good bit by war, earthquakes, and the Soviet regime.  But I also like to see what people do.  Unfortunately,  a countryside-heavy itinerary kept me mostly out of Chisinau.  Also, I didn’t find any cafés in the central part of the city as I walked around so it was harder to sit back and watch life go by (well, I could have sat on a sidewalk but not the same!). Still, I saw life go by in its own way.

Old lady crossing Stefan cel Mare Boulevard in Chisinau, Moldova

Old lady crossing Stefan cel Mare Boulevard

Man crossing street in Chisinau, Moldova

Man crossing street

I did visit the main park in the city center, named after the national hero Stefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great), which definitely seems to be popular with locals with its trees, lawn areas, fountains and the Alley of the Classics (with sculptures of literature and political greats for Moldovans).

Stefan cel Mare Central Park in Chisinau, Moldova

Stefan cel Mare Central Park

Ever-present Stefan cel Mare near the same-named park in Chisinau, Moldova

Ever-present Stefan cel Mare near the same-named park

My guide asked me asked me when we met “why Moldova?”.  I answered because “it’s there and I wanted to see what it was like.”   Yet, I fully realize that to really get to know a country and its people, it takes a lot more than a short visit and the sightseeing.  I was fortunate to have a great guide, Dumitru, (whom I’d recommend for anyone traveling there!) for 3 days who shared a lot with me about Moldova and Moldovans, about the times before and after the fall of the USSR, about the country’s current challenges, about the business environment, and about the hidden treasures this small country has to offer for those willing to take the extra steps to get to see it.



  1. I really enjoyed this photo essay, Raul! You capture such a variety of scenes. The old architecture is truly beautiful, especially the City Hall. And it seems like you like taking pics of parliament buildings ;-).
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..The Green Mill – Chicago’s landmark jazz clubMy Profile

  2. Some incredible pictures. I loved the underground tunnel with the artwork. The architecture is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Tawny- Captain and Clark recently posted..N Seoul Tower is Quite the Trip. [video]My Profile

    • That tunnel was the “warmest” thing I saw in terms of buildings, murals, etc. I had to wait until it was clear of people so the effect was a little more powerful 🙂

  3. Great photo essay Raul. I can honestly say I’d never seen a single photo of this city before this post, and to be honest, I didn’t know much about it. Thanks for opening my eyes.
    John recently posted..Travel Rinse Repeat Roundup August 14th, 2012My Profile

    • I hadn’t seen anything about this city either before I started looking into going. Though it is not an impressive place the way Salzburg, Krakow or other “secondary” towns in Europe can be, it certainly stands out to me as a place in transition, where the past still feels quite present. Thanks for checking it out!

  4. I love that you paid such attention to not only the buildings, but the reason behind the buildings. Your answer to the tour guide when he asked, “Why Moldova” was awesome. It’s just one of the many reasons why I love me some Raul. 🙂
    Leah Travels recently posted..Texas Tuesday: Houston’s Karbach Brewing Co.My Profile

    • And I thought you loved me because of my doughnut place research skills! Thanks for checking out this post – hope I gave some insight into a place many of us know little or nothing about!

  5. Great pics as always Raul…The National Hotel is definitely not my kind of place…
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..The Lodge at Pebble Beach ResortMy Profile

    • DJ, you can take it up as a project with your hotel expertise! It is well situated and you have, pretty much, a blank canvas! (Plus, you have the big sign already up!) 🙂

  6. hum.. do we like parliament buildings much? what was your favourite thing about Moldova? I had never seen a pic before you!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..So hard to leave San Diego, CaliforniaMy Profile

    • LOL, I guess visiting capital cities yields parliament building pictures! It must be a natural law in bloghood! I will be summing up my experience in Moldova soon but the covers one of my favorite things. The second favorite thing will be the subject of an upcoming post!!! Stay tuned 🙂

  7. your moldova recaps are great–love learning about a place that i don’t know much about & never really had any desire to explore… excited to hear more about the things you loved most!
    the lazy travelers recently posted..going for the gold: our top three travel memoriesMy Profile

  8. thanks for putting some context around Moldova through these photos of the capital city… i look forward to learning more.
    stay adventurous, Craig
    Craig Zabransky recently posted..Two Local Drinks to Sample in AmsterdamMy Profile

  9. Didn’t know anything about Moldova before reading this. Thank you. Love all the city shots, especially the Chisinau welcome-to sign. New city, new possibilities.
    Aaron recently posted..The Emory’s of Atlanta.My Profile

  10. So glad I have your posts on Moldova to read before I head there myself in October! I am really excited about this trip – doing some reading now and quite intrigued by what I’ve found and discovered about Chisinau!

    PS: I love that you looked for a caffè to sit back and relax 😉
    Miret recently posted..Blühendes Konfekt, ViennaMy Profile

  11. There is something to add. The Circus buiding ( ). It is a Soviet building programm – a building dedicated for circus only. Today is closed, but waiting for investitors.


  1. […] as a city has a good number of churches (for views of Chisinau itself, check my post on it here).  Right in the city center there are a few worth checking […]

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