According to tradition, the original church of the Dormition in Tîrgu Neamț was built during the reign of Stephen the Great, Prince of Moldavia (1457-1504), perhaps even commissioned by him. This church suffered a lot due to adverse conditions (wars, fires, etc.), and despite frequent repairs, in the end it was completely destroyed. However, the church appears to have been rebuilt afterwards, and on a number of occasions.
One such rebuilding seems to have happened during the reign or perhaps also under the patronage of Prince Gheorghe Ștefan (1653-1658). A deed dated February 7, 1677 lists among its signatories a “priest Toader from Tîrgu Neamț, from the church of Prince Gheorghe Ștefan, which has the patron feast of the Dormition.” This deed is the first direct historical attestation of this church and of its association with Prince Gheorghe Ștefan. Later sources also add to this that the church “of Gheorghe Ștefan” was ransacked by the Tartars in 1717 and a valuable copy of the Holy Gospel, printed by Serban Cantacuzino in 1682, had been stolen from it. (That copy was soon afterwards redeemed by a priest Vasile and his wife, Maria.)
The church of Gheorghe Ștefan, a wood structure built atop a stone foundation, only endured until the first half of the eighteenth century, being destroyed either by the armed conflicts that took place during this period or in a fire. After this, according to the Sinodik (a short historical note) of the church, it was rebuilt once more under the patronage of Grigore Ghica II, Prince of Moldavia, during his fourth reign (1747-1748), and consecrated in 1747 by Bishop Nichifor of Moldavia.
The church rebuilt by Grigore II Ghica only endured 62 years. The church was again rebuilt in 1809, under the patronage of Ștefan Velea from Tîrgu Neamț and with the help of local parishioners. The church was consecrated by Metropolitan Veniamin Costachi in the same year (1809). This church was the last wooden structure built atop a stone foundation.
But Ștefan Velea’s church was also short-lived. The church was completely destroyed by the fire of April 14th, 1864, at 3 am (the night of feast of the Holy Resurrection of Our Lord). After this, priests and parishioners took charge of a new rebuilding. The construction of the church began in 1867, with the help of donations from believers living within the city, and it continued until the year 1872 when the rebuilding was stalled by lack of money. The rebuilding was resumed with the help of a devoted Christian from Piatra Neamț, boyar Nicolae Albu, a former prefect of the county, and his wife Calipso who, “seeing the work and faith of the people, and their frustration with being unable to continue the construction of their monumental church, donated 500 golden coins, and thus the church was nearly erected.” The construction was completed in 1875 and the church was consecrated on the day of August 10 of that year by Bishop Iosif Naniescu – the first parish church to be consecrated by him after his enthronement as Bishop of Moldavia (July 6, 1875).
This is the church standing today. The church is made of stone and brick; it was designed by architect Johan Brandel of Daggendorf, a native from Bavaria, and it is now one of the architectural jewels of the city. The current painting of the church was done between 1990-1998 by the artist Ion Preutu and his collaborators Doina Preutu, Eugenia Popescu, Constantin Ignat, and Ciprian Istrate.
The painting of the church was started under the priests Constantin Vasilescu and Constantin Grigoriu, and continued, since 1995, under the supervision of Father Vasile Ignătescu. After the completion of the painting, the church was consecrated on October 18, 1998 by His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania (at the time Metropolitan of Moldavia and Bukovina) together with Archbishop Petru of Bessarabia.