In the north of the Republic of Moldova is situated the third administrative, industrial and cultural center of the republic – Balti municipality, the third after the capital of the country, Chisinau, and the Tiraspol municipality. Until recently it was the county seat of the same name.
The physical situation where this city is located corresponds to a natural smooth land, a little lower than neighboring regions, called by the geographers the Baltilor plain. The locality is situated at the confluence of Reutel and Raut river, 138 km northward of Chisinau, at a distance almost equal to the rivers Prut and Dniester, at an altitude of 102 above sea level, 47.76 degrees northern latitude and 27.91 degrees eastern latitude. The area – 7800 hectares. In 1994 the city received the municipality status. The localities Sadovoe and Elizaveta are part of it. The municipality has 370 streets, their length is 220.7 km. The climate is continental and clement. The city is rich in green areas.
Population – 149.100 habitants. The population structure by nationalities: 54% Moldovans, 24 – Ukrainians, 19% - Russians, 3% - others.
Unlike other localities, Balti as well formed settlement enters later in history. As many other localities, our city has also a legend concerning the first historical attestation that is not argued scientifically. Our locality is confound with the Beliz locality from Ukraine, and the 1421 is considered as its first attestation.
First documentary attestation alludes to October 4th, 1620, when “Polish detachments moved along, and in the midnight they arrived to Catranac village, and at the noon of the October 4th they arrived to Raut river near Balti village” (Tutora campaign of Julkevici hetman).
There are also other mentions about the pass through Balti of various strange travelers:
- April 21st, 1651, the Russian abbot Arsenie Suhanov traversed Balti to Iasi;
- August 26th, 1652, Timus Hmelnitki traversed Balti to Iasi to get lady Ruxanda;
- January 02nd, 1657, the traveler Gotthard Wefling went to Soroca by Balti.
During the Prut campaign of 1711, the provisions and the ammunitions that have not been used have been gathered in Balti. After the Stanilesti abortion, on the way to Russia, the Russian tsar Peter I, being accompanied by the Prince of Moldova Dimitrie Cantemir, halted in Balti. Being trailed by the enemy, drawing back he left in Balti all war belongings. Having found out about it, Tartar hordes invaded the locality, pillaged it and fired it. The city’s destiny was the same to Hotin and Soroca, because every time those two boroughs were invaded, Balti was also pillaged and devastated.
After Tartar expulsion, in 1766, Alexandru Ghica, the Prince of Moldova, gifted a half of Raut meadow lands with St. Spiridon monastery of Iasi, and the second half gifted with the merchant brothers Alexandru, Costache and Iordache Panaite. Thanks to those brothers, the city began to progress faster.
At the end of 18th century – the beginning of 19th century, the territory of Russian Empire enlarges due to wars against Ottoman Empire. In 1978 the Russian Empire enlarges till Nistru river. The Russian – Turkish war of 1806-1812 ended in conclusion of Bucharest peace, as result the territory between Nistru and Prut river, later called Bessarabia, is attached to Russia.
A simple circumstance made that Balti locality obtained the status of city. After the end of Napoleon wars, in 1818 the tsar Alexandr I inspected the recently attached territory. On April 19th, being on the way from Hotin to Chisinau, he stayed for one night in Balti that were on the half of this routing. Meanwhile the messengers came from Empire capital and brought him the news about the birth of his nephew (the future Russian tsar Alexandr II), and in honor of this important event of Romanov family, by an imperial ukase, he gave Balti locality city status.
The day of administrative reforms made by Russian government in the new created guberniya Bessarabia, Balti became the residency of Iasi county (beginning with 1867 it would be called Balti). This created favorable premises for the locality transformation into an important administrative, commercial and cultural center in the north of Bessarabia.
The coat of arms of Balti havs been made on the ground of Iasi county coat of arms, and it has been approved by an imperial ukase of March 25th, 1826. It represents: on a red shield there is a silver horse head that is oriented to the right. The determination of the coat of arms by an imperial ukase explains in the following manner: “The old arm of coats of Iasi county represents a whole horse, but since till present only a part of this county has been attached to the Empire, and in memory of this separation in two pieces, it have been established a new design that represents only the head of truncated horse”. Therefore the heraldry explanation does not need any commentary.
At the middle of 19th century, Balti is populated about 6 thousand people. According to 1892 census information, there were living already 11 118 habitants, 5 968 of them were men and 5 130 women. In 1897 Balti population counted about 22 thousand people. From the point of view of confession, Balti city population is divided into: Orthodox (2 730 persons), Catholic (129), Armenians (225), Russians (Lipovans) (211), Jews (7 143). The population growth is due exclusively to immigration, due to colonization tsarist policy of Bessarabia. The official statistics proves this thesis by the ratio of equality of birth and death. According to a Russian statistics, in 1888 85% of all county population were Moldovans, namely 147 438 habitants.
Since the end of 18th century, the Armenian, Polish and German communities is constituted in the city; it appeared the Bulgarian colonists. And in the second half of 19th century it is constituted the Israelite community, composed in biggest part of Jews that came from Poland, Austria-Hungary and even from Spain.
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
To the middle of 19th century (1845) it has been made up the first development perspective plan of the city. The center is considered the Orthodox church Saint Nicolae (1795). On the plan there are also marked: agricultural market, livestock market, Catargi mansions, synagogues, Catholic Church. It is planed the construction of an Orthodox church, near the construction of a hostel, prison, military hospital, 3 cemeteries, one of which is Jewish, a post office, the bridges on Raut and Reutel river.
At the end of 19th century Balti city counted over 2 000 stone, wood or mud houses. There was three public building: a military hospital for 160 beds, the prison and the barracks with warehouse. The city had a single Orthodox church, a Catholic one, one for Russian Lipovans, a synagogue and 7 Jewish prayer houses, 25 stone booths and 265 wood cribs. That is the reason why the city has been very often fired. Therefore, in 1860 the locality was completely destroyed by a calamitous fire, and in 1882 the city was almost completely burned. In that period of time, the solid constructions were a rarity, except the Catargi family house and a great stone bridge on Raut river. In 1856 the city has been visited by the empress Maria Alexandrovna; in her memory a public garden was built (nowadays the children park “Andries”).
Becoming a center of cereal gathering, it is spliced to railway grid designed to transport the grain from Odessa. The railway construction began in 1892 and the next year the first garniture went to Ocnita, then through Ungheni the city was attached to Chisinau and Odessa.
In the city have been organized different marts, exhibitions where the local production were bought – sold (to note the cattle trade; annually it was held not less than 11 marts, and on St. Ilie a big fair was organized. The biggest part of traded cattle and horses were exported to Europe, especially to Hapsburg Empire and Poland).
The first exhibition in Balti took place in august 1909. After this exhibition the local zemstvo decided to organize it regularly. The exhibitions were given place to a carnival, night shows, horse races – amusement for the local population. Later the exhibitions continued in the interwar period, it being organized under the king patronage.