The Monuments of Kishinev
The Monument to Moldovan Gospodar Stephen the Great
Perhaps, the destiny of the monument of Gospodar Stephen the Great is
as dramatic and mysterious as the destiny of the gospodar himself.
In 1923 sculptor A. Pladomeala was proposed to elaborate the project of Stephen the Great
monument. In search of the portrait of Stephen the Great he traveled over a lot of
cloisters, until he found a miniature, bearing a date 1475. The ancient artist painted it
from nature. Plamadeala used this picture as a basis for his work.
He made three variants of the monument. The first variant you can see
on the left, but the best is considered to be the variant used for the monument. The main
idea, taken by Plamadeala, derives from the traditional Russian iconographic portrayal of
princes (the base is the icon of "Boris and Gleb", being kept in Kiev); but the
gospodar's hand with the cross the sculptor raised higher. It is not accidentally: Stephen
the Great was known to be a representative of the Oriental Orthodoxy.
The monument was cast in Bucharest. And the sculptor was supposed to choose the place for
the monument himself.
But before our telling how it was installed, we would like to launch into a little
The monument to Russian Emperor Alexander II had formerly been standing there; it
was dismantled in 1918.
The monument of another Russian Emperor, Alexander I, was initially treated less severely
- he was only muffled with the straw mat. But later it was destroyed by a member of
"Sfatul Terii" - P. Khalipa. Only the head of the monument, that is being kept
somewhere in the store-rooms of the State Arts Museum of the Republic of Moldova, escaped
The city had been cleared from the monuments. Thus, Plamodeala could place the monument
wherever he wanted. And he decided that the monument would be put at the corner of
Seminarskaya and Alexandrovskaya streets. The configuration of the place itself, according
to the sculptor's intention, symbolized Moldova. Park paths, converging here, were
supposed to represent the idea of G. Ureke that Moldova was located on the way of all
disasters; four flower beds, as decorative medallions, repeated the picture of traditional
Moldovan carpet - miniature model of Paradise. The Moldovan State Emblem was depicted on
the pedestal and acanthus - from Byzantine culture - represented the connection with
Plamodeala's Stephen the Great appeared before the public in all his glory on 29 April
In 1940 a devoted admirer of Stephen the Great - General Ion Ryskanu insisted on taking
the monument to Romania. The monument was mounted in the city of Vaslui, at the church of
St Ioann, having been built by order of Stephen the Great.
Instead of the monument of Stephen the Great, the monument of Joseph Stalin was placed.
This monument was terminated during the occupation of 16 July 1941.
The monument was taken back to Kishinev on 25 August 1942. Antonesky did not like monument
standing in the place where the statue of Joseph Stalin, his political opponent, had been
standing. He ordered to mount the monument in another place - vis-a-vis Triumph Arch,
where Alexander the First had formerly been located.
27 July 1990 this sensational photograph was published. It was made 48
years ago and not 52 years as some people consider. The bonze statue of
Ferdinand I towered here 52 years ago.
In 1944 the monument was sent to Romania again. In 1945, by mere chance, it was found
sticking out of snow in a forest park by a pupil of A. Plamodeala - sculptor K. S.
Kobiteva. She informed Colonel Voroshilov about it. The monument was sent to Kishinev
23 June 1945 the question of the monument restoration was settled. It was one of the first
objects, reconstructed in post-war Kishinev. We have to thank Major Sazonov and his
brigade who managed to mount the monument virtually with no materials. On this pedestal
the monument had been standing almost till 1972.
After the events in Hungary of 1956, the monument was supposed to be removed. But A.
Plamadeala's widow appealed with the letter to Nikita Khrushev and the monument was left.
In 1971, it was adopted a decision about its restoration and arrangement of the pedestal,
that would correspond to the author's intention. First, it was just supposed to restore
the monument; the direction to remove the monument towards the centre of the park sounded
like a bolt from the blue.
The honoured sculptor of the Republic of Moldova, R. E. Kurts, was involved into this
work. His deserve is the pedestal, made from the author's outlines (except the state
emblem of the Republic of Moldova and the acanthus) and the new configuration of the
The monument was removed 18 metres 20 centimetres towards the centre of the park.
On 31 August 1989 the monument of Stephen the Great was returned to its historical place,
chosen by Alexander Plamadeala in the 20s. The initial inscriptions were restored.
Stephen the Great pictured in the crown and the rich garb of the
Moldovan gospodar. Stephen's face is stern and grieved. He foresees disasters for his
Homeland. He seems to be going to the enemy slowly and solemnly, tightly raising the cross
and squeezing his mighty sword.