• Slovakia!

    Slovakia: Tatra Mountains. Go Now!

    Slovakia
    The Tatra Mountains (pictured) form the backdrop of this rural country, whose culture is rooted in this beautiful landscape. Go Now!

  • Italy!

    Italy: Rome' historic buildings. Go Now!

    Italy
    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

  • Portugal!

    Portugal: Palace of Pena. Go Now!

    Portugal
    Although next to the seas and made famous by trade, Portugal boasts dynamic landscapes and architecture, including the Palace of Pena (pictured) near the town of Sintra. Go to Portugal!

  • Serbia!

    Serbia: Houses in the mountains. Go Now!

    Serbia
    Serbia is a historic power now looking internally to re-discovery their identity and future. Explore Serbia!

  • Armenia!

    Armenia: Noravank Monastery. Go Now!

    Armenia
    With a unique language, foods, architecture, and identity, Armenia is a fascinating country and culture unlike no other in the world. Begin Your Journey!

  • Finland!

    Finland: Finnish Sauna. Go Now!

    Finland
    Unlike its neighbors, the Finns are unique ethnically & linguistically, but are wholly European in many other ways. Begin Your Journey!

Architecture of Moldova

Moldovan Architecture - Orhei Vechi Monastery
Orhei Vechi

Moldova's architecture is not nearly as impressive or significant as much of Europe's. Being a country that has historically fallen outside the realm of major empires, or on the periphery of them, Moldova has seemed to miss out on most major architectural movements and has no buildings that are in the Renaissance style, Baroque style, or many other styles. Few monumental buildings were constructed because there was little money or priority placed on the region throughout time. Additionally, most of the country was historically a rural region and traditional architecture in Moldova consisted mostly of domestic (houses) or church architecture constructed of wood so have not lasted over time.

The two oldest exceptions to this are the Fort in Soroca which was originally built in 1499, but reconstructed in stone in 1543-1546 and the Cave Monasteries in Orhei Vechi (Old Orhei), which are hand dug living quarters and religious structures, like churches carved into the rocky cliff from the 1200s. These two structures are fairly representative of their time in that most stone buildings from this time period were either religious or protective buildings. Money and time were spent on buildings to protect countries and to worship; nothing else was more important so this is where the money was spent.

In the 1800s there were a number of continent-wide architectural movements taking place, most of which were revival or imitation movements and again most of these missed Moldova, however there were a few notable constructions built during this time, primarily in the capital city of Chisinau. The blue All Saints Church is perhaps the brightest piece of architecture in the country, but is a simple Orthodox church that is similar to most orthodox churches from the time period with hints of Byzantium roots. The Water Tower (late 1800s) in Chisinau has a more unusual look and appears to be a combination of styles that were popular at the time.

Two structures built in the 1800s that do belong to larger movements are the Cathedral of Christ's Nativity (1836) and the nearby Arch in the capital. Both of these structures are perfect examples of neo-Classical architecture, the most popular movement in Europe at the time, and they reflect ancient Greek and Roman architecture with their columned facades.

Most of modern Chisinau, Balti, and Tiraspol, along with other large cities were built under Soviet rule in the 1900s and the Soviet's simple construction, noted for use over esthetics, can be seen everywhere. During this time period many buildings were constructed for housing and industrial plants as a mass urbanization occurred. Churches were no longer built as religion was not encouraged, so nearly all constructions from this time were functional in use and had few design features of note.

Since the fall of communism in the early 1990s a number of modern buildings have been erected. Many of these modern buildings are focused on steel and glass as they resemble skyscrapers and other modern buildings in large cities the world over, however no true skyscrapers exist in the country. Of these modern buildings, the most impressive are again in the capital and are home to the President's Palace and other government buildings.

It is these larger cities and their constructions that represent a significant aspect of Moldova's culture. The urbanization and mass construction built by the Soviets shifted the people's way of life and priorities and the architecture and city layouts represent this shift.

Despite the lack of stone and brick structures in most of the country, village architecture in Moldova is also something to note. The country is dotted with hundreds of small villages and each can be spotted from miles away by the town's church steeple. These villages almost always consist of a couple dozen houses, a shop or two, and a church, which generally sits on a hill or at least reaches above all the other buildings. This domestic and historic church architecture was primarily built in the late 1800s or was built in the years since 1992, but the style and design of these towns has changed little over time. These wooden villages represent the people, their lifestyle, and their priorities as each town is centered around a church and the town surrounded by agricultural fields; this is the best representation of Moldova culture in the past and continues to represent the majority of the population today.

A final noteworthy point to make in regards to architecture comes in the city of Soroca. The king of the Roma (gypsies) lives in Soroca as do many other very powerful and influential Roma. There is one part of the city, in which the Roma predominantly live, where these housing structures are quite unusual with an architectural style seen nowhere else. The buildings tend to be constructed of wooden or metal exteriors and are quite ornate.

Moldova's Top Architectural Sights:
-The modern, Neo-Classical, and Soviet architecture in Chisinau
-The historic fort and the Roma houses in Soroca
-Soviet architecture in Tiraspol
-Stone cave monastery in Orhei Vechi

Learn More about Moldova's Architecture:
-Gypsy Architecture by Renata Calzi, Patrizio Corno, and Carlo Gianferro. Axel Menges. 2007. (Specific to Roma Architecture) (Buy Now)
-Frederic Chaubin: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed by Chaubin, Frederic. Taschen. 2011. (General Soviet Architecture, not specific to Moldova) (Buy Now)

This page was last updated: November, 2012