In September 2019 we spent three or four days in Moldova followed by three days in Odessa, Ukraine. Why Moldova? We are big fans of the off-the-beaten-track destinations and Moldova is a relatively remote country in the middle of Europe very much neglected by the tourists. Besides, it has a growing wine-tourism industry and those who know and love wine, know that some of the best wines in Europe come from Moldova. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy the later aspect as at the time of our trip I was already pregnant.
During the time we spent in Moldova, we have visited the following places:
When you walk through Chisinau (or Kishinev), the biggest city and the capital of the country, it feels like a city with a lot of space. It has broad streets, green parks, and loads of historical buildings.
There are also many decent restaurants and cafes serving you savory local cuisine (which reminded me of Romanian cuisine) for small money.
Built in the 15th century, Capriana is one of the oldest monasteries in Moldova. It is situated in a picturesque forested area 40 km from Chisinau. The monastery is gorgeous and is worth a visit when you are in Chisinau.
Old Orhei or, in Moldavian, Orheiul Vechi, is one of Moldova’s most incredible sights, a historical and archaeological complex overlooking the Raut River. It includes numerous fortifications, ruins, caves, baths, and monasteries. During excavations, cultural layers from different epochs (Paleolithic, Eneolithic and iron Age) were discovered here.
The Orthodox monastery with its church on the top of the hill is still inhabited by several monks. In one of the caves you can visit an active chapel where you can proceed to the balcony carved in limestone rocks. There you will be astonished by the view of the surrounding landscape. If you look attentively at the surrounding rocks, you will notice numerous coins squeezed into the limestone which is believed to bring you luck and make your wishes come true.
On your way to the Old Orhei, you can pass by the ruins of a Tatar public bath built by the Tatar-Mongols in the 14th century.
To reach this monastery you will most probably need a car: Tipova Monastery is located in a remote but beautiful part of Moldova overlooking the natural landscapes of the Dniestr (Tyra) river. We entered through the main gate, passed by a well-preserved (or recently renovated?) church and followed the stairs downhill.
Tipova Monastery consists of the three main complexes that have been dug out of the rocks along the banks of the Dniestr River between the 11th and the 16th centuries. Several monks still live there.
If you would like to undertake a wild (beware of the hibiscus’ thorns) nature hike, when you face the caves, turn right and follow the path past the caves. We have read that this hike should have ended in a lovely waterfall, but somehow we missed it and after about an hour-long hike returned to the entrance to the monastery.
The Holy Trinity Monastery of Saharna is considered to be one of the biggest centers for religious pilgrimages in Moldova. According to a legend, around the 10th century, a monk from the monastery once saw the shining figure of the Virgin Mary’s on the top of the rock who left a footstep on the ground.
For more places to visit in Moldova, check out the following page: https://www.thecrazytourist.com/15-best-places-visit-moldova/.
During our time in Moldova, we have also rented a car and crossed the border to Transdnistria and drove back from Ribnitza to Dubasari. On the way to Ukraine, we crossed the border to Transdnistria again and spent a night in Tiraspol, its capital. Transdnistria (officially the Pridnestrovian Moldavin Republic) is a breakaway state in the narrow strip of land between the river Dniester and the Ukrainian border. There are distinguished border crossings between Moldova and Transdnistria has its own president, flag, emblem, anthem and currency. The government there has declared Transdnistria an independent republic in 1992. However, internationally, it is recognized as a part of Moldova.
We have been to a local market in Ribnitza and were astonished by very low prices for any goods. There are also several decent restaurants in Tiraspol. If you once happen to be in this city, visit the Gastropub “Craft” to try local brewed beer and baked sterlet.