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Moldova Travel Guide

Updated on February 4, 2013
The Carpathian Mountains, Moldova
The Carpathian Mountains, Moldova

Republic of Moldova is a small country that has a troubled past. Considered for a long time to be the poorer “sister” of Romania, Moldova is a destination that deserves an honorable place in the tourist map. Despite the long Soviet occupation and the political and military conflicts, the Moldavians are hospitable people, and the capital city of Chisinau offers everything that a visitor may desire – it’s filled with parks and monuments, dedicated especially to the ruler Stephen the Great (Stefan cel Mare), but also to other personalities from Romania.

Moldova is also an ideal destination for shopping and the wines especially have a distinctive quality and a great variety of chocolate. Even though it’s called “Moldavian”, the language is practically the same with the Romanian one. The strong accent is different, due to the years of Slavic occupation and influence. You’ll be surprised to find in the Moldavian speech ancient expressions and words, which haven’t been used for a long time in Romania.

Moldova has a fertile soil and a rich history, monasteries and ancient forests. But the greatest attraction is represented by the wine production and tasting. The wine cellars in Milestii Mici and Cojusna are distinguished, and more recently, wine cellars and wine factories have been opened in Purcari, Branesti and Orhei. Also, a large part of the tourist industry is based on the traditional folklore, culinary customs and agro-tourism – pensions and lodges located in the middle of a primordial landscape that offer traditional dishes, from ecological ingredients.

Moldova's Tourist Attractions

  • Visit one of the oldest cities in Moldova, Tighina. The beautiful fortress from the 17th century, as well as the city itself, was damaged during the battles that took place in 1992.

  • Discover Moldova’s history in the Museum of History and Regional Tradition in Chisinau, located in Turkish style complex. The BelleArteMuseum houses examples of paintings from Russia, Western Europe and Moldova, sculptures and decorative art.
  • The Armenian cemetery and the Jewish cemetery are some of the oldest cemeteries in Chisinau. In the second one the victims of the Chisinau pogrom from 1903 were entombed.
  • Visit the Stefan cel MareMonument, the place for meetings and violent outbreaks between the Moldavian nationalists and the Soviet supporters in 1990-1991.
  • Explore the capital city of Chisinau, located on BicRiver’s banks. Visit the Pushkin house, the place where the great Russian poet spent his exile days and began working on his epic poem Eugen Oneghin.
  • Watch a performance in the former Chisinau chorus synagogue, which shelter today the Chekhov dramatic theater.
  • Swim in the artificial lake of Chisinau, where you have beautiful beaches and boats for rent at your disposal.
  • Relax in Cahul, a city that is famous for its water and thermal mud treatments. Hirjauca is a renowned resort, located in the vicinity.
  • Try the local wines – the vineyards in Milesti and Krikova-Veki are renowned in the entire region.

Saharna Waterfalls, Moldova
Saharna Waterfalls, Moldova

Moldova's Cuisine

Moldova’s cuisine fully profits from the fertile soil and the influences caused by its location, the meeting place for diverse nations and cultures. These influences can be noticed today in the Greek dishes like pies and rolls, Mediterranean elements like grout, pastry dough, harvester oil and dry wine used in preparing the vegetables and the meat, and the spicy sauces. The three hundred years of Ottoman rule have left their heritage in a tendency of consuming ram meat and the identical name for some dishes – ghiveci (hotchpotch), moussaka, ciorba (borsch). The Slavic influence in the cuisine is narrowed down to cabbage pie, Easter pie, pickles and brine. The most distinctive ingredient in the Moldavian cuisine is the polenta. The vegetables are boiled and rarely fried.

The Moldavian wines are renowned all over the world for their refined taste and flavor. The abundance of vineyards allows a great diversity of breeds, from the white one to the purple one, from dry to medium sweet and sweet, and from greasy to an almost transparent wine. The old wines, available for tasting in wine cellars, are a presentation card for Moldova.

Hincu Monasteries, Moldova
Hincu Monasteries, Moldova

Moldova's History

A large part of the present Moldova was part of the independent principality of Moldova from the 14th century, which came under Ottoman rule in the 16th century. Russia occupied the Moldavian territory in 1791 and in 1812, when Turkey gave up the Basarabia province to Russia’s gain. The rest of Moldova was given to Romania by Turkey, a fact that is not recognized by Russia.

In 1924, USSR transformed Moldova in an AutonomousSovietSocialistRepublic. As a result of the non-aggression pact between Hitler and Stalin signed in 1939, Romania had to give up the entire Basarabia to the Soviet Union. During the Second World War Romania joined Germany against the Soviets and succeeded in regaining Basarabia, but the Soviet troops occupied the territory again in 1944 and reestablished the SSR Moldova. For many years Romania and USSR disputed their rights on Basarabia.

After the failed political coup against the president Mikhail Gorbachev, Moldova proclaimed its independence, in August 1991. Conflicts between the Romanian ethnics and the Russian-Ukrainian ethnics followed, both looking after gaining independence. In the 1992 conflict approximately 1500 persons lost their lives. The violence goes on in Transnistria, a place that has become a haven for smugglers and criminal activities. And in the south, in Gagauz, the Turkish Christians try to separate themselves.

The Russian financial crisis in 1998 affected Moldova as well, a fact that lead to an exodus of approximately 60.000 Moldavians. In 2001 the elections were won by the communist party and Vladimir Voronin became the prime minister. He tried to strengthen the connections with Moscow, which lead to protests from those who wanted a stronger connection with Romania.

What You Should Know

The local hour: GMT+2. The currency: Moldavian LEI (MDL).

Comments

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  • Mike Robbers profile image

    Mike Robbers 

    5 years ago from London

    That was, indeed, a very interesting article! Thank you for sharing and opening my appetite for explorations. I have already traveled around Romania&loved it. If Moldova a 'smaller sister'-country of Romania, then there are very high chances for me to love it just as much! Voted up & beautiful! Mike

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