The little unknown country of Eastern Europe
Tucked away at the edge of Eastern Europe, Moldova is a country that often slips under the radar of travelers. However, this small nation boasts a rich history, picturesque landscapes and a vibrant culture waiting to be discovered.
The region was part of the Hegemony of Moldavia from the 14th to the 19th century, when it was ceded to the Russian Empire by the Ottoman Empire under the name Bessarabia. It later joined Wallachia to form Romania, but Russian rule eventually prevailed. During the Russian Revolution of 1917, it was integrated with Romania. In 1940 Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia to the Soviet Union, and in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the country declared independence and took the name Moldova. Its economy is the poorest in Europe based on per capita income. Also, Moldova is the country in Europe with the fewest visitors.
Chișinău is the bustling capital of Moldova that features a unique combination of Soviet-era architecture and modern development. The Cathedral of the Nativity, is one of the city’s landmarks, an Orthodox church that exemplifies Moldova’s religious heritage.
Local daily life unfolds in the Central Market, where one can taste local flavors. Moldovan wines are also famous and the country has vineyards and wineries that are attractions for wine tasting.
Orheiul Vechi, is a historical and archaeological complex that takes us back in time, with old fortified monasteries and a panoramic view of the Raut River. The troglodyte caves carved into the limestone rocks were once used as places of worship by monks.
Cricova, one of the most famous wineries in the country, offers an extraordinary experience in cellars with millions of wine bottles located in an extensive network of tunnels.
Soroka is referred to as the “Capital of the Gypsies”. Gypsy Hill features colorful cone-shaped houses that are unique to this area, an element of Roma culture.
A country that doesn’t exist
Transnistria (Pridnestrovie in the local language) is an unrecognized de facto state in Eastern Europe that is internationally recognized as part of Moldova. No UN member state recognizes Transnistria, except three also unrecognized states (South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). It declared independence in 1990 after a war aided by Russian, Cossack and Ukrainian volunteers.
While there has been a ceasefire since 1992, the European Council recognizes Transnistria as an area of “frozen conflict”. Transnistria continues to claim independence and maintains sovereignty over its territory. The country’s currency is the Transnistrian ruble, which has no exchange value outside the country. The main language is Russian. Entry into the country requires border control but no visa is required.
The capital Tiraspol offers a unique opportunity to see a piece of the Soviet era mixed with modern elements. Hammers and sickles and other Soviet symbols can be seen on the streets, but the most iconic sight is the Lenin statue that looms in front of the “Supreme Council” building, one of the few such statues left in the world. Nearby, there is the iconic Tank monument and Suvorov Square. On 25th October Street, the city’s main street, one will feel the atmosphere of a bygone era interrupted by modern cars, luxury and non-luxury.
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