The city of Dorohoi is one of the oldest urban settlements in Moldova. The evidence of habitation on these lands dates as far back as the Paleolithic, the oldest era in the history of mankind, when the basic tools were those carved out of stone. Moreover, archaeologists have discovered here
ancient coins, from Dacian times – 3rd century BC, bronze coins from the time of the Roman emperors Vespasian and Justinian, as well as other highly valuable archaeological remains.
The name of the city, according to etymological research, is Romanian, but of Slavic origin. Thus, it is either derived from the word “doroga”, meaning road or path in east Slavic, or from “dorogo”, meaning dear or cherished. Moreover, on the territory where Dorohoi lies today, many families surnamed Dorohoncea and Dragus used to live in olden times. This entitled etymologists to believe that the name is, indeed, of Slavic origin, and that it derives from one of the founding fathers of this establishment, just as the legend says that Bucharest, the capital of Romania, is derived from a shepherd who went by the name of Bucur.
The first documentary mention of Dorohoi dates as far back as the 15th century. Thus, on 6 October 1407, the Moldavian prince, Alexandru cel Bun, signed a treaty in Lviv, Ukraine, with the then King of Poland, Vladislav Iagello. Many prominent squires attended the signing of the treaty, including Mihail Dorohoianul, considered to be the founder of administrative activity in Dorohoi.
A year later, Dorohoi would be recognized as a customs point for horse traders who sold Romanian horses in Ukraine, where they were highly appraised.
Short after, the city became the administrative center of Northern Moldova. However, at the beginning of the 16th century, this prestige lured Polish and Tatar invaders that put the settlement to fire and sword.
Even if the fates were against it, the city did not surrender. It resurged even more prosperous, being rebuilt in 1568, only to become the residence of the High Stewart of the upper lands, until 1778.
For over two centuries, it operated as a district and, following the modern administrative reform during Cuza’s reign, Dorohoi obtained the rank of county. Once with the establishment of the communist regime in Romania, after the administrative-territorial reorganization from 1950, Dorohoi became the county seat of the department with the same name within the Botoșani region. In 1952, it was still the county seat of the department, but within the Suceava region.
Last but not least, it retained the title of town in the Botoșani county. In 1994 it rose to the rank of municipality. It is classified as a rank 2 locality, namely, a locality of significant importance, having an important role in ensuring balance in the network of localities. It is a notable status, as the one it held, throughout its entire history, both in times of peace and of tumult, when it faced great challenges.
Its memorable historical episodes include the contribution and sacrifice of the inhabitants of Dorohoi during the War for Independence, held in 1877 – 1878, against the Ottoman forces. The battle conducted against the Turkish army was a big step forward for the Romanian people, a step without which the full unification which took place later would not have been possible. Evidence of this fact is the monument of the national and local hero Nicolae Valter Mărăcineanu, bearing testimony to the courage and patriotism of the Romanian people. The memorial in front of the City Hall, Ostaș în luptă (Soldier in battle), erected in honor of the warriors fallen in the First World War, are another reminder of these values.
Another notable event was the pogrom initiated against the Jewish population on 1 July 1940, in Dorohoi. According to an official report, 53 Jews, among whom women and children, lost their lives. The Jewish community maintains, however, that the number of Jews killed was much higher: approximately 200 souls. Many of the survivors of the pogrom had much to endure. They were tortured and robbed of their fortunes. Broken destinies and regrettable blood sacrifices. A terrible price paid by a part of the Dorohoi community in the name of identity, principles and faith.