The achievements of the Kishinev inhabitants in the area of architecture are considerable. The capital of Moldova is indebted for its status of the “historical city”, received in 1986, to its centre. It was formerly the whole Kishinev, and now just a little part of it, encircled with the massive row of the new buildings of 60-80th. That time the people used to joke: "Kishinev is a village in the centre and the city in the suburbs". That was time when the industrial building in Kishinev was accelerating. The high buildings that had been unthinkable in seismic area aroused public admiration. The accurate strait lines of the new houses were found modern and beautiful. Newspapers, presenting the capital of Moldova, were only publishing the photographs of the new buildings and boulevards and the old ones were ashamed and scolded for architectural extravagances. Fortunately, the industrial building did not affect the beauty of the old city. The people got tired with the strait lines and rediscovered the dignity of the scales, proportionate to man and even fascination of the architectural extravagances. The middle-80-ies Kishinev dwellers had very painful attitude to all the changes in the centre of the city and even opposed them.
On the hills of old Kishinev there are Mazarache (1752), St. Constantin and Elena (1777), Annunciation (1807) churches. They have typical for Moldovan middle-age architecture tripetalous plan and the so-called “Moldovan arch” – two circles of vaults, supporting the dram with the dome.
Those years Kishinev was hardly looking like a town. It was consisting of separated badly organized districts, crooked streets and lanes without definite centre and public buildings. In 1817 the centre of the town was clarified, new districts and quarters were planned. The building were conducted on the slope to the west of the old town. The new district got the name of the “upper town”. In the city centre, the building of large houses was launched: Metropolitan See (1814, in the place of the House of Government), Theological Seminary, private houses of boyars Varfolomey, Katarjy, Donici, some high-ranking officials and merchants. There were some steps on the city improvement: street lamps appeared, the swamps of the lower part of the city were drained and the first city park was laid out (currently, the park of Stephen the Great).
The general plan of Kishinev, made on the basis of its topographical survey and approved in 1834, planned its further development. The centre of the city, its main square, central park (currently, the Cathedral park) were determined. The rectangular and accurate net of wide streets corresponded to the town-planning of the southern cities of Russia. In the old town, the attempts to plan the streets and blocks were made. The considerable architectural ensemble was created in the city centre. On the project of architect A. Melnikov, in the style of late Russian classicism, the largest buildings of that time, Cathedral and Bell Tower (1831-1835) were erected. Then Triumph Arch (1840, I. Zaushkevich) was built. These buildings are remarkable for its calm grandeur and austerity of composition.
In the second half of the XIX century the growth of Kishinev was going on. 93 000 people dwelled Kishinev in 1961. The official and educational buildings were being built. The order forms were dominating but the elements of Byzantine, Roman and Gothic architecture were also applied as well as the elements of Moldovan architecture. The houses were mainly single-storied and in the centre there were blocks of flats with the shops on the ground floor. The characteristic feature of apartment houses was the glass-covered verandah from the yard side and the front entrance with columns and pilasters. The houses were decorated with pediments, various ornaments of windows. The high quality of the building and the beginning of the true improvement of the city, Kishinev is indebted to the outstanding architect – Alexander Bernardazzi; he was the chief city architect more than 30 years. He is the author of many end-of-XIX-century considerable buildings, enriched the city architecture. However, the city improvement was conducted slowly. Streets’ paving was only begun in 1862.
In 1892 the city water pipe was set up; before this, the city had been supplied with water from the wells and it was provided in barrels by carriers.
At the beginning of the XX century, the buildings of the City Duma - currently, City Hall (the Mayor’s office), Circuit Court (Railway Administration), City Bank (the Organ Hall), Museum of Local Lore. In 1910 Kishinev numbered 127 000 inhabitants, about 10 000 houses, 142 streets and lanes, 12 squares, 5 gardens and parks. This was the Golden Age in Kishinev formation. From 1918 till 1940 when Bessarabia became the integral part of Romania, Kishinev development stopped, the population decreased. Just some detached houses of officials and businessman appeared in the upper part of Kishinev.
During World War II Kishinev lost 78 % of its housing.
The general plan of the city reconstruction and building was elaborated in 1947-1948 under the direction of A. Schusev. It envisaged reconstruction of old and building of new houses, administrative and public buildings, creation of industrial zones, new highways, squares and parks. The city was foreseen to be encircled with green plants. The elaboration of the general plan was continued by Moldovan architects headed by R. Kurts together with Moscow and Leningrad architects. The first new building was th railway house (1948, L. Chuiprin).
In different parts of the city, the buildings on individual projects were built: Library after Krupskaya (architect A. Abrutsumyan, now National Library) and Railway Hospital (architect D. Palatnik).
The decisive incentive to the city development and, especially, its center was the direction of the Minister Council of the USSR “About the measures on further development of Kishinev” (1971) when our city was given about 1 billion roubles from the USSR funds. The house planning on a mass scale was developed as well as educational institutions and hospitals.
As a result of the growing industrialization of building in the middle 70-ies, it became possible to erect the building with 9, 12 and 16 stories in our seismically dangerous zone. These buildings (architect G. Solominov was awarded with the state premium of MSSR) stood the strongest earthquakes of 1977 and 1986.
On the basis of industrial methods of building and the grown capabilities of applying high-quality trimming materials the large public and administrative buildings were erected: the House of Government, and the Palace of Octombrie (now, the National Palace), architect S. Fridlin; Central Committee of the Communist Party (the House of Parliament); the hotels of “Inturist” (“National”), architects A. Gorbuntsov and V. Shalaginov and “Cosmos”, architects S. Shoikhet and A. Kirichenko; the National Opera-House, architects N. Kurennoi and A. Gorshkov; the circus, architects S. Shoikhet and A. Kirichenko; the Airport, architect A. Eksner. Modern avenues were created during last years of the USSR: Mir (now Dachia), Moskovsky, Kutuzovsky (Mircha cel Bytryn). The transport overpass connected the centre of the city with the district of Botanica and the airport through the Valley of Roses.
The competition for the detailed planning of the city
centre was announced in the middle 80-ies, but the political events in
the late 80-ies in Moldova did not allow its accomplishing. Last years
the building of fashionable houses of the financial and business elite
of the city has chiefly been conducted. The splendid buildings of Moldincombank
and Petrol Bank appeared. The reconstruction of Cathedral
has been completed.