Dimitrie Cantemir in his famous work Descriptio Moldavie gives the origin of the name as Hungarian: Szűcsvár, meaning city of furriers.
The city of Suceava was for long the capital of the Moldavian state and main residence of the Moldavian princes (between 1388 and 1565). The city was the capital of the lands of Stephen the Great, one of the pivotal figures in Romanian history, who died in Suceava in 1504. He built a church every time he defeated an enemy army. During the rule of Alexandru Lăpuşneanu, the seat was moved to Iaşi in 1565. Michael the Brave captured the city in 1600 during the Moldavian Magnate Wars in attempt to unite Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania, but he was defeated the same year and Suceava failed to become the capital again.
Together with the rest of Bukovina, Suceava was under the rule of the Habsburg Monarchy (later Austria-Hungary) from 1775 to 1918; the border of Habsburg domains passed just south-east of the city. At the end of World War I, it became part of Greater Romania.
During the communist period in Romania, Suceava was heavily industrialized.
In the past few years Suceava started to evolve more rapidly. The most important sights in the town date from the time as a princely capital.
- Mirǎuti Church Founded in 1390 by Petru I of Moldavia, it is the oldest church in Suceava, and established the city as a see of the church (which later moved to the). Stephen the Great was crowned in this church in 1457 and the church remained the coronation church of Moldavia until 1522.
- Church of Saint George, part of the Monastery of Saint John the New. Founded by Bogdan the One-eyed in 1514. It has frescoes painted on the outside, typical of the region, and is one of the seven churches listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Saint John the New was a Moldavian monk who preached during Turkish occupation and was subsequently martyred in Cetatea Alba, present-day Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi in Ukraine. Alexander the Good brought his relics to Moldavia in 1415. The monastery serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Suceava and Radauti.
- Church of Saint Demetrius this church was founded by Petru Rareş , the sun of Stephan the Great, in 1534, with a bell tower added in 1561, and the frescoes inside restored recently
- Church of Saint John the Baptist Build by Basil the Wolf in 1643
There are numerous museums in the city: the Bucovina History Museum, the Bucovina Village Museum, the Bucovina Ethnographic Museum (housed in an inn from the 17th century), and the Natural History Museum. Furthermore, there is the Cetatea de Scaun or Princely Citadel, like the Mirǎuti Church founded by Petru I of Moldavia when he moved the capital from Siret to Suceava. Alexander the Good and Stephen the Great expanded the citadel, and it became strong enough to hold off an attack by Ottoman sultan Mehmed II (the conqueror of Constantinople), in 1476 .