I have wanted to visit the Republic of Moldova for years, but I’ve postponed this visit for various reasons. Fortunately, this year I managed to visit this country and I must confess that it surprised me in a pleasant way.
Despite not having many expectations from Moldova, I spent a couple of beautiful and relaxing days there.
Moldova is not a spectacular country, but it has beautiful places to offer to its tourists. Taking into account the fact that the Republic of Moldova was both Romanian and Russian territory, it was normal to be influenced by these two different cultures. This influence can be noticed all over the country.
I decided to accommodate in Chisinau, the capital and the largest city in Moldova, but it didn’t impress me at all. It is true that Chisinau has a few things to offer, but one or two days are enough to spend in this city. The fact that I combined Chisinau with a few other famous Moldovan tourist attractions was the winning combination for a successful travel experience in the land of Moldova.
It’s a small country and it was easy to travel across the country and discover a few beautiful and interesting tourist attractions. All I needed was a car, good mood and patience because public roads in Moldova are not really good. In addition, traffic rules should be strictly respected because a lot of police cars patrol these public roads and the risk of getting a traffic ticket is very high. In case you decide to visit this country, here are a few places you should definitely add to your trip list:
1.Even though Chisinau is a bit boring at first glance, its central area has a few interesting places to offer and it deserves to be explored. The entire area is embellished with green spaces, historical buildings and beautiful religious edifices.
Piata Marii Adunari Nationale is probably the place with the strongest historical energy, taking into account all the historical events it has witnessed. The peaceful atmosphere of this square seems not to betray the struggle of the past events. The Nativity of Christ Metropolitan Cathedral lies in the central of this square and it is bordered by a beautiful park. Despite its simple and common appearance, it is the most famous cathedral in Chisinau. The interior is embellished with beautiful icons and frescoes and the bell tower is unusually situated near the edifice. This unusual aspect and the multitude of pigeons which constantly fly around it give the cathedral a pleasant appearance.
The Triumphal Arch, decorated with the Moldovan flag, seems to dominate the city center, despite its small size. The arch was built to commemorate the victory of the Russian army over the Ottoman Empire. A few steps away you can admire Stefan cel Mare’s Statue, built in the honor of the most famous ruler of the country. The Parliament House and the Presidential Palace are two other important buildings in Chisinau and it’s impossible not to notice them. Despite their simple architecture, they stand out through their imposing appearance.
Chisinau is blessed with a lot of religious edifices whose architecture is influenced by both Romanian and Russian architectural styles. The Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church, St. Teodora de la Sihla Church and Ciuflea Monastery are among my favorite religious edifices in the city. All of them are considered national heritage monuments and for good reason. Their beautiful exterior painted in different shades of blue and embellished with beautiful architectural motifs is impossible to ignore.
The Nativity of Christ Metropolitan Cathedral
The Bell Tower of The Nativity of Christ Metropolitan Cathedral
The Triumphal Arch
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church
2.A mandatory experience in the Republic of Moldova is visiting at least one wine cellar. The production of wine is a common occupation in the country and this is why Moldova is probably the best place to live this type of experience. I chose to visit Cricova Winery, which is the second largest wine cellar in Moldova, after Milestii Mici. It is situated very close to Chisinau, at only 13 kilometers away.
The Wine Cellars of Cricova lie under the town with the same name and they consist of about 120 kilometers of tunnels which shelter a remarkable collection of wines. In case you decide to visit these cellars, you should make a reservation at least one day before your visit and choose a package according to your time and preferences. Regardless of the package you choose, Cricova Winery can be visited only as a part of an organized group and only via electric trains.
The tour includes a few stops among the wine barrels and the bottle racks where you can admire a few collections of fine wines. Another stop is at the champagne factory, where you can visit the production center of the sparkling wine and enjoy the image of hundreds of champagne bottles, beautifully arranged on the racks. A visit to the cinema is an unusual experience in a wine cellar, but it is part of the tour. Here, you can watch a documentary about the history of wine and also about the past of Cricova Winery. The Wine Museum offers you the chance to admire a collection of interesting objects related to the history of wine and an impressive collection of wines. The museum also shelters the State Reserve of Moldova and a few celebrities’ private collections of wines. The tour ends with the possibility of tasting a lot of wine assortments in one of the five beautifully arranged tasting rooms, and of course with the opportunity of buying some wines from the underground shop.
3.Soroca Fortress is one of the most outstanding tourist attractions in the Republic of Moldova and it really deserves to be visited. The fortress renders in detail the glorious past of the country in a wonderful setting. It is situated in the small town with the same name, very close to the Ukrainian border. If you accommodate in Chisinau, you should know that the fortress is 160 kilometers away from the city.
Originally built as a wooden fortress by Stefan cel Mare, it was transformed years later into a stone fortress by Petru Rares. Its circular shape with five imposing bastions and a solid structure, made Soroca Fortress an important part of the defensive system of the country. The notoriety of the fortress is given by the fact that it was the venue of an important moment in history. According to historians, in 1711 the Moldovan army and the Russian army met at Soroca Fortress, in order to join their forces during the Prut campaign against the Turkish army.
Nowadays, Soroca Fortress is the only medieval monument in Moldova which has been preserved in its original stone design. If you decide to pay the entrance ticket, you can take a walk along the imposing walls, explore the courtyard, admire the old fountain and a few medieval exhibits, visit the old rooms and climb the towers.
4.In case you want to discover a place where time seems to stand still, the village of Butuceni is the perfect place. The village lies in the region of Orheiul Vechi, in a picturesque and rustic scenery, on the bank of the river Raut. Situated 45 kilometers away from Chisinau, Butuceni deserves to be explored step by step. Each and every street of this small village presents the locals’ simple lifestyle and you will have the feeling that you are back in time.
Situated in a fairytale landscape, this village is appreciated by tourists for its small blue houses and its old monastery situated at the top of the hill. The Dormition of the Virgin Mary Monastery was built in the Russian architectural style. A few steps before entering the courtyard of the monastery, you will see an unusual stone cross. According to the legend, this is a healing cross and in case you want to make your wishes come true, you should touch the cross and surround it three times.
There is also an ethnographic museum in the village, where you can admire a collection of old objects and a small blue house which renders in detail the lifestyle of the past. You cannot leave Butuceni without trying a local dish at La Butuc Restaurant. Here, I have eaten the best borsch (beet root soup) and the best cheese pie. In addition, the restaurant is situated in an absolutely gorgeous rustic setting.
5.Last but not least, you should visit Chateau Vartely Resort. The complex is situated 45 kilometers away from Chisinau, in the wine region with the same name. This wine region is one of the most appreciated in the country and Vartely Winery is known for using the latest technology in the processing and the production of wine.
The complex includes a few beautiful villas, a rustic restaurant, a wine cellar and other leisure facilities. Chateau Vartely Resort surprises its tourists with its unique architecture and its amazing landscapes. You will have the opportunity to taste the fine wine varieties in the cellar of the restaurant, in one of the three beautifully arranged tasting rooms. If you like a certain wine, you can buy it from the small shop situated near the exit gate. Spending a few hours inside this complex is a perfect way to relax and recharge your batteries, far away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities.
Even though the Republic of Moldova is not one of my favorite countries, it has a few beautiful and interesting places to offer and it is worth spending a few days there.