Piatra Neamţ is the capital city of Neamţ County, in the historical region of Moldavia, eastern Romania. Because of its privileged location in the Eastern Carpathian mountains, it is considered one of the most picturesque cities in Romania. It is also the capital of the Nord-Est (North-East) development region, which consists of six Moldavian counties.
The area around Piatra Neamţ is one of the oldest inhabited areas in Romania. The oldest traces of human civilisation in the present territory date back to the higher Paleolithic, about 100,000 years BCE. The Cucuteni culture, whose development lasted approximately one thousand years (ca. 3600-2600 BCE) was attested in the territory of Neamţ county by a remarkable number of settlements (approx. 150), archaeological diggings unearthing important museum collections of Aeneolithic artifacts. Archaeologists have also discovered objects here dating back to the Neolithic Period and the Bronze Age (about 1900-1700 BCE).
Excavations just outside the city revealed the ruins of a large Dacian city, Petrodava, mentioned by Greek geographer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. The whole compound had its heyday between the first century BCE and the first century CE. Standing out is the citadel at Bîtca Doamnei which contains shrines resembling those identified in the Orăştiei Mountains. As far as the existence of a local leader is concerned, historians tend to suggest the identification of the Kingdom of Dicomes in the very political centre at Petrodava. The complex of strongholds without peer in Moldavia and Wallachia is evidence as to a powerful political and military centre both in Burebista’s time and in the period that preceded the reign of Decebalus. The settlement was documented in the 15th century as Piatra lui Craciun, or Camena, a market town.
The first urban settlements, which emerged under Petru I Muşat (1375–1391), were Piatra lui Craciun, Roman and Neamţ. The Neamţ citadel, whose documentary attestation dates back to February 2, 1395, was also erected during the same consolidation period of the Moldovian pricipate east of the Carpathians. The Princely Court of Piatra Neamţ is mentioned for the first time in a document dated April 20, 1491, to have been founded between 1468 and 1475, under Stephen the Great, the Princely Cathedral being built in 1497-1498, and the 20 m (65.62 ft) tall Bell Tower in 1499.
The city's industries include a fertilizer plant, a pulp and paper mill, and several food-processing plants. In the city are also located an agricultural machinery plant (Mecanica Ceahlău), a pharmaceutical plant (Plantavorel) and two paper manufacturers.
The city's main industrial park is situated 11 km south, in the Săvineşti area. During the communist period, the Săvineşti platform was one of the most important chemical plants in Romania and the site of a research institute. Today, the industrial facility is part of the Italian group Radici, and it operates at low capacity.
In the recent period, the most important Romanian commercial brands originating from Piatra Neamţ are Rifil (synthetic fibers manufacturer), Altex (Media Galaxy) (TV, hi-fi, home appliances national dealer), Köber(paints manufacturer), Amicii-Kubo Ice Cream (ice cream producer) and Dasimpex (mobile phones dealer).
There are 4 local TV stations (TV M, 1TV, TeleM, Actual TV ), 3 FM radio stations and several newspapers.
Piatra Neamţ is home to Teatrul Tineretului (Youth's Theatre), G. T. Kirileanu library and many cultural events, including the International Theatre Festival in the springtime, the classical music event Vacanţe muzicale (musical holydays) in the summertime and more folkloric festivals all year round.
The "Petru Rareş" national college, "Calistrat Hogaş" national college, Computer Science national college as well as "Victor Brauner" Fine Arts College are some of the most prestigious education centres in the Neamt county.
Starting with January 2009, Piatra Neamt will be the host of a short film festival called "Filmul de Piatra" (derived from the name of the city "Piatra" which means stone (rock) and translated as "Stone-film Festival"). The 1st edition will take place in the building of Teatrul Tineretului and other locations between 7th and 11th of January, 2009. The festival will have a national short film competition (all genres) and will award each category. The agenda will also include selections of international shorts, awarded in major festivals throughout the world. Other special programmes include live concerts, skiing and workshops.
The city's main attractions are the natural beauty of the area (the mountains and the lakes), the historical buildings, the museums and the festivals. Today, there are several programs in progress with the goal of transforming Piatra Neamţ into an important touristic destination in Romania (the construction of the cable car and the wintersports facilities).
- Stephen's tower, built in 1499, during Ştefan cel Mare's reign
- St John The Baptist church (1497–1498)
- The Princely Court
- The History & Archaeology Museum (host of the Cucuteni exhibition, the largest Aeneolithic artifacts collection in southeastern Europe)
- The Fine Arts Museum
- The Natural Sciences Museum
- The "Calistrat Hogaş" Memorial Museum
- The "Schimbarea la Faţă" Wooden Church in Văleni
- The Bistriţa Monastery, founded in the early 15th century, is 8 km (5 mi) west of the city
- The Wooden Synagogue
- Central Park
- Cozla Park (including the Zoo and Cozla ski run)
- Ştrandul Tineretului (including the Equestrian Stadium)