Many of you know that we are expats living in Barcelona for more than 9 years. But few of you know that both me and hubby are from Moldova. A beautiful landscaped country located between Romania and Ukraine.
At work many people thought I am French because of the accent, and when I told them I am from Moldova, some of them were like, ohh Maldives :)…and I was saying, no no, Moldova, hahaha.
This ultimate article came to my mind as I don ́t know why, many people asked me if I would advise to travel to Moldova and what they could see there. So, this article is mainly for you.
Some facts about us, and Moldova.
- Being a part of Soviet Union, it is clear that many people have not heard about the existence of such a country. But I am here to tell you more about it.
- Most of Moldovans are bi- or tri-lingual. We speak Romanian, which is the native language, Russian, Ukrainian or Gagauz(Turkic dialect). Some speak all. In our case we speak Romanian and Russian. And if you follow us, then you see that we speak Russian with our kids, Romanian is still to come.
- Almost 90% of the population is Orthodox, so it is no wonder that almost most beautiful places you will visit in Moldova are monasteries and churches.
- Our national dish is porridge. Mămăligă is a porridge made out of yellow maize flour and often considered the country’s national dish. I will write another post dedicated only for the dishes of Moldova.
- Chisinau is the capital of Moldova and all its history was destroyed in 1940. It has been invaded by the Red Army in June 1940, and in October the same year was an Earthquake measured 7.3 on the Richter scale. All you will see in your trip to the capital will be Soviet buildings and very few, but really very few facades before this year.
- The region known as Transnistria declared independence from Moldova in 1990, precipitating the War of Transnistria which secured a de facto independence for the territory. However, the region, which has its own currency and border controls, is not officially recognised by any member of the United Nations.
- We have a whole day dedicated to wine. October 3-4 for National Wine Day. Streets of every town, become streets full of art. Apart of selling wine on the streets from local producers, you will find many local shops with handmade goodies. Here to remark, that the Mileștii Mici wine cellar in Moldova is recognised in Guinness World Records as the world ́s largest with nearly two million bottles of plonk in its darkened vaults. Moldova remains as 20th largest wine-producing nation on Earth (as of 2014).
- Zdob si Zdub are the famous local band, but as well we became famous with Dragostea din Tei, by O-Zone.
Top things to do and see in Moldova.
Here, definitely I advice you to rent a car, the roads are not so good, but you will be free to get wherever you want. Public transport has a higher frequency on bigger towns, and to the villages you can have like 2 or 3 buses per day.
- 1. Orheiul vechi (Old Orhei)
I begin with this place, as it is my favourite for several reasons. First reason, I consider it as the most beautiful place in all Moldova. And the second reason is that my hometown is Orhei (New Town) only 20 km from Orheiul vechi. So our weekend we knew exactly where we will go hiking :D.
The country’s most important historical site – the archaeological complex Orheiul Vechi is an impressive 13th Century cave monastery complex set amidst dramatic scenery, and from there to the traditional village of Butuceni.
A perfect place to enjoy the history, hiking and culture with your kids for sure.
As well, I was pleasantly impressed that Orheiul vechi is recommended by tripadvisor as top place to visit. So if you come to Moldova, you can’t say you have been to Moldova unless you have visited this site.
- 2. Chisinau
Obviously you will pass through the capital, as the only airport is outside the capital. Here I would spend only 1 day, as you can visit all the most important sights in only 1 day. And it is a kid friendly city. Triumph Arch, a 42 foot (13-meter) tall stone arch that was built in 1840 to commemorate the Russo-Turkish War. And at 50m of it you will see Stefan cel Mare statue, voivode of Moldavia from 1457 to 1504. He is a national hero, as only during his time, Moldova won a great number of battles with Otoman Emperor. And right behind the statue is the park with the same name, Stefan cel Mare. You can have a pleasant walk with kids.
If you walk further you will see Parliament of the Republic of Moldova.
One of your best park options is the Rose Valley that is a popular running area with trails and parks. Also don’t forget to visit the Memorial Park that is home to the WWII orange pyramid and the St. Theodor Tiron Church.
- 3. Soroca
Soroca is well known for the original wooden fort, which defended a ford over the Dniester/Nistru, was an important link in the chain of fortifications which comprised four forts (e.g. Akkerman and Khotin) on the Dniester, two forts on the Danube and three forts on the north border of medieval Moldova. Between 1543 and 1546 under the rule of Petru Rareş, the fortress was rebuilt in stone as a perfect circle with five bastions situated at equal distances.
Soroca is also the house of the most gypsies in Moldova. If you have the occasion to go uptown, you will see spectacular houses they own. Their home are inspired by landmarks such as St Peter’s Basilica and the Bolshoi theatre. It is said that the king of gypsies all over the world lives there. Is it true, or not, who knows.
- 4. Visit Monasteries/Churches
As I mentioned previously, 90% of the population is Orthodox and we really like our churches to be beautiful. People donate money, as many of them consider it a second home. Many people go every Sunday to the church, my grandma did it as well.
- Sahara Monastery
- Capriana Monastery
- Ciuflea Monastery
- Hincu Monastery
- Curchi Monastery (here we married with hubby, and christen our first kid). I consider it the most beautiful monastery in Moldova. And as well it is situated only 15km from Orhei Town
I know that as a tourist you cannot go only for visiting churches. That is why I wrote you the list of the most prettiest, and you can decide where to go.
- 5. Take a tour through the most famous wineries.
Milestii Mici and Cricova are the famous. And as I mentioned previously Milestii Mici are listed in the Guinness Book. I heard Cricova is a must visit place, but I cannot say anything as I haven’t visited it. So today, I will share my thoughts about Milestii Mici.
Many of you will say, it is not the place where to go with kids, but we went there with our first son who was only 2 years and he enjoyed. It is not only about tasting wine, it is about discovering the cellar and the enormous quantity of different types of wine, how they preserve all these and so on. Remember that knowledge is power!
- 6. Villages
There are many beautiful villages which preserve the beauty of our traditions, where you can buy handmade things for a very reasonable price. Butuceni, Trebujeni, Cricova and so on, are the villages that promote our beautiful local traditions.
I hope my little resume of things to do and see in Moldova will catch your attention to visit this place in the future.