Born Today: Zamfir Ralli-Arbore

Zamfir Constantin Ralli-Arbore (November 14, 1848 – April 2 or April 3, 1933) was a political activist originally active in the Russian Empire, also known for his work as an amateur historian, geographer and ethnographer.

Nina Arbore - My father's portrait

He was involved in the campaign against Russian despotism, that led him to champion the cause of freedom for Bessarabia region, to which he was personally tied by his family history.

His grandfather, Zamfirache Ralli, was an ennobled Greek merchant settled in Moldova and his father, Constantin, later inherited a Bessarabian manorial estate in Dolna, which in 1820s has served as the Pushkin’s vacation house (n.b. A.S. Pushkin was sent in exile in Bessarabia from 1820 until 1823).

Zamfir Ralli-Arbore remains an important personality for Moldova because of his two major scientifical works:

  • “Basarabia în secolul XIX” (Bessarabia in the XIXth century) – a complete ethnographic study of Bessarabia, awarded by the Romanian Academy (1899).
  • “Dicționar geografic al Basarabiei” (Geographical Dictionary of Bessarabia) (1904).

He was also notoriously the friend of poet Mihai Eminescu in the 1880s, and worked closely with writer Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu during the 1890s.

His manor in Dolna village is preserved as a museum – “Pushkin’s House-Museum”.

Pushkin's House-Museum in Dolna

P.S. TripMoldova offers tour to Ralli’s manor. 😉


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