Dating from 1350, the ‘St. Mary’ Church is the oldest place of worship built by Armenian communities in Europe, but also the first stone made Orthodox church in Botosani. The Holy Scriptures written on parchment in 1354, the earliest known and surviving book from Botosani, were kept until 1950 in the altar of the ‘St. Mary’ Church. The first Christian cemetery discovered in Botosani lies near the church, with graves dating from the 15th century and tombstones carrying not yet deciphered Armenian inscriptions.
The ‘St. Mary’ Church is the oldest Armenian church in Europe. On August 16 this year we have celebrateb 669 years since its founding, 669 years of uninterrupted service in a church, says the head of the Armenian community in Botosani, Viorica Popa.
The church was left in an advanced state of decay until the early ’90s. It took almost 20 years to restore the historic monument, with direct financial support from the Romanian Government, the Ministry of Culture and the local budget of the Botosani municipality. The ‘St. Mary’ Church was the growth center around which the Armenian quarter developed in the 14th century, a quarter whose residents were mainly Armenian merchants who left their country after the -devastating earthquake of 1319, which completely destroyed the once flourishing city of Ani, the capital of Armenia.
In that year, many Armenians migrated to Botosani and Suceava, leaving their homeland after an earthquake devastated their capital city,in order to build a new life here” writes priest and ethnographer Dan Dimitrie in his work “Orthodox Armenians in Bucovina.”
The church completely collapsed, but was rebuilt in 1795. Overlooking the courtyard is the old bell tower and the old parish house still stands there.The feel of the Armenian neighborhood is even nowadays strongly present thanks to the architecture of the houses built as of the 1800s.
It is an honor for the people in Botosani to keep such a valuable piece of history in our city, this church meaning so much for the Armenian community and being a milestone in the history of our city.
One of the most attractive techniques in the field of pottery in Romania, the Kuty-type pottery, survives because of the passion of a family from Botoșani. The pottery workshop of the Iacinschi family, on Miorița Street No 10. is the only one in Botoșani county and the second one in Romania, after the one from Rădăuți-Suceava, which produces plates, mugs, candlesticks, bowls, or objects of decoration made manually following a technique practiced since 14th century.
The workshop belongs to Sonia Iacinschi and her son, Eusebiu, two craftsmen who master the decorative art and have imposed themselves nationally and internationally. Their works-with unique decorative motifs individualized by the technique ‘sgrafitto’, zoomorphic and avimorphic, realized in the colors green, yellow and brown, have been valorized both in Romania and in France, Italy, Israel or Hungary.
Ethnography specialists claim that this type of pottery, Kutty, is the old Byzantine pottery that has entered the territory of Romania since the 4th century. Its making is a complex process, which involves several stages namely:
1. The processing of clay
2. Clay modeling-vessel formation
6. The first burning
9. The final burning
Some of the most important distinctions and awards won by the pottery are:
• The letter of thanks for the support given to the 16th edition of the “ROMANIA DAY ON BROADWAY” festival held in New York;
• The First Prize awarded at the XXII edition of the National Exhibition Contest from Moldova, 2011.
The oldest Armenian Orthodox church from Moldavia was built in Botosani a fact that denotes the large number of Armenians settled in the city at that time.
The Armenian Ortodox church Saint Mary was bulit in 1350.
The “Eternity” cemetery, which is also the place where the Armenian cemetery is located, an open-air museum of funerary art for 200 years.
Until the mid-nineteenth century Armenian merchants were content with tombstones , but with the increase of their power and wealth, Armenian funeral monuments in Botosani became true symbols of social and financial influence.
However, in 1850, the Armenian funerary art reached its peak, when the Grigoroşianu family donated the land to the Armenian community, arranging it in a well-organized cemetery.
Moreover, in 1855 Ana Pruncul, the wife of the rich Armenian Avedic Van Prumen, built a church to serve this cemetery.
Almost every tomb has an impressive funeral monument which tells the story of the dead. It was a cemetery of the rich people.
Until now there are only 26 funeral monuments left. All of them were made by craftsmen from different cities: Milano, Geneva, Vienna, Athens.
The most impressive monument is that of the Cristea and Maria Manea family, representing a massive coffin on the catafalque, but also details of the family’s life.
The “Ştefan Luchian” Foundation, whose name is often referred as “the poet of still life’’ (mainly flowers) was established 20 years ago on the 30th august, 1999 and it’s included in the Ciomac-Cantemir house -a patrimony value from way back the 1800s. The Armenian merchants house’s architecture shows a special detail seen in many newer and older houses from Botoşani: a brâncovenesc veranda. The Ciomac-Cantemir house also includes the memorial house “Ştefan Luchian” and a workshop for traditional creations.
Ștefan Luchian, a great romanian painter, was born in Ștefănești, Botoșani county, in 1868. Due to his parents, he moved to Bucharest with his brother, Anibal. At just 10 years old, his father unfortunately passed away, leaving the two brothers under their mother’s teachings. She was a big adept of military school, forcing the artist to take the military exam entrance, but Ștefan failed the exam on purpose, only to later join the ‘’Belle-Arte’’ art school in Bucharest. His undeniable talent is easily picked from the crowd during his time there, of which he made good use in Germany (Munich) and France. Back from his study-travel, working as a church painter, he meets the daughter of the Mayor from Târgoviște, with whom he falls in love during their painting lessons. He even ask for her hand, but his wealth was unfortunately not enough to convince her parents. The lovers later ran away together, however her parents already found a future husband for their girl. Years after, Ștefan Luchian passing by her house, sees her with two children and a bouquet of anemones, inspiring him to paint one of his famous still life tableau. In 1902, the artist becomes paralysed and continuing his artwork, he manages to create what the most acclaimed critics of Louvre Museum described as: one of the best self portraits in recent history, showing a multitude of emotions different from the pride of being a painter we are used to see in modern paintings. During his last years, Tudor Arghezi was kind enough to visit Luchian and take care of him, before going to work. One morning, according to Arghezi, Ștefan told him that the night before, a young man with a violin started singing, quote: ‘’For the great painter, Ștefan Luchian’’, said the young man who was none other than George Enescu, another national treasure of Romania and Botoșani. Ștefan Luchian later died in 1916, 28 of july. The administration continues and intends to keep alive the cultural legacy our great painter left behind.
The Missir House was built in 1890 in a classicist eclectic style
and features many original architectural features, including the
ornate wrought iron fence.
The Missir family had, over time, political people in the Botoşani
local administration, lawyers and landowners in the Hangu area.
The Garabet Ciomac House was built in 1892 and is one of Botoşani's
representative buildings. Architecture is an eclectic, classicist
tradition. Garabet Ciomac was one of the most important Armenian
merchants in the 19th century Botosani, a great landowner and cattleman.
On the frontispiece of the building are the initials of the owner
G. K. C. - Garabet Kricor Ciomac and the building year.
Casa Ferhat, the current headquarters of the Trade Restriction in Botoşani,
is a monument of urban patrimony architecture.
Anton Ferhat, the last owner of this property, was one of the richest
Armenians in Botosani, director of the Romanian Bank of
Botosani and a landlord of 300 hectares of land. His wealth was confiscated
by communists and he died in communist prisons.
The building then became the headquarters of the County Forestry Directorate,
and today it is the headquarters of the
Botosani Commerce Registry.
The first theatre performance in Romanian took place in Botosani in 1838. Around 1860 the first theatre was built, known as the ‘ Petrache Cristea Theatre “Botoşanii was thus among the first cities in the country who had theatre hall performances after model of the West, with stage, two rows of boxes, floor, orchestra and other accessories. In 1864 the thetre had as an employee and playwright the Romanian National poet, Mihai Eminescu. After 1885, because of the building damage, performances were taken to different locations. The current building of the theater was completed in 1914 by the architect Grigore Cerchez, in the eclectic style of the French school. This one can be compared by proportions and richness of ornaments to the National Theatre of Iasi. On Aprilie 8, 1944, the beautiful building of the Mihai Eminescu Theatre was partially destroyed by bombing, and then it was radically transformed between 1956 to 1958, when rebuilt, so that the old composition can not be identified. In September 1958, the new Theatre “Mihai Eminescu” was inaugurated.
Former Palace of the Prefecture, the building that hosts the museum today was built in the period before WW1, following a project designed by architect Petre Antonescu. At first, the museum had a double profile: history and natural sciences. At the end of 1977, the main exhibition of the history department of the museum was opened, including elements of archeology, numismatics, history. In its rooms there are several very interesting exhibits: a human shelter from the Middle Paleolithic discovered in Ripiceni-Izvor, on the banks ofPrut River, which is unique in the country; a female statue belonging to Cucuteni culture (5000 BC), known as Venus from Draguseni; the old door from St. Ciolae church from Dorohoi (founded by Stefan cel Mare, 1495); buckles, rings, seals and other objects found on the battlefield from Verbia (4 km away from Dorohoi), where the army of Ieremia Movila went on the side of Mihai Viteazul, the king that united the Romanian provinces for the first time (1600);the original inscription of Pomarla school (1835), founded by boyard Anastasie Basota – the first private school of Moldova.
Mihai Eminescu Park was opened in 1869, back then it was known as Varnav Public Garden. In its centre there is an artificial lake with two bridges and on the main alleys there are bust sculptures of the main cultural personnalities of Btoosani. The park still keeps a few trees which were contemporary to the Romanian national poet Mihai Eminescu. In 1932, the bust of Mihai Eminescu was placed here – it is a culpture of the artist Ion Georgescu, which used to be placed in front of Marchian school in 1890. On the artificial lake people can ride boats and water bicycles, and in the gazebo from the middle of the park the fanfare performs on holidays.