The Soviet Experience in Moldova
Each year on the 9th of May, Transnistrians stage an elaborate Victory Day celebration in the capital Tiraspol to remember the victims of WWII, known as the Great Patriotic War.
We’ll see how they celebrate, meet and talk to locals, visit their capital Tiraspol, understand their religion – Russian orthodox, see their country, history and discover how they live and what they have to offer. This is a glimpse into the closest living relic of the Soviet Union.
How about celebrating the 9th of May with a Victory Day Transnistria military parade in a non-existing Soviet country? Strange, isn’t it? Strange but possible… Transnistria is one of the former Soviet Union’s original “frozen conflicts”, and a template for later Russian-backed disputes including Eastern Ukraine. It has remained unrecognized by any states other than Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia after its 1992 war of independence from Moldova. Using Soviet rituals for its legitimacy rather than its governing ideology, the territory is ruled by a nationalized mafia and guaranteed by the Russian military.
- Day 1Arrival in ChisinauYou’ll meet your local guide and driver at the airport. After check-in, you’ll have a city tour around the capital of Moldova – Chisinau. It includes a visit to the Museum of Natural History and Ethnography, the Central Park and the Alley of Moldovan literature classics, the monument of Stephen the Great and Saint, Great National Assembly Square, the Triumph Arch, Nativity Cathedral, the Organ Hall, the market of souvenirs, etc. Welcome dinner and tour program preview.
- Day 2Chisinau – Cricova – Mimi Castle – TiraspolAfter breakfast we’ll visit the world-famous Moldovan Cellars – Cricova, which is a real underground wine city with wide streets, warehouses, and tasting rooms. The total length of its galleries is 120 km. (yep, you read that right.) The constant annual temperature of +12ºC and 82-95% humidity are perfect conditions for aging wine. Cricova is also well known for brilliant sparkling wines produced by the classic French method. On the way to Tiraspol, we will stop at the impressive Mimi Castle, a special winery and have a lunch paired with local wine. In the afternoon, we’ll continue to Tiraspol, checking into our 4-star hotel. Free dinner. Transnistria – is a breakaway territory within the internationally recognized borders of Moldova. Although not recognized by any state or international organization, it is a de facto independent state named the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. The country’s national coat of arms still includes the traditional hammer and sickle and the Lenin statue hasn’t yet been pulled down. The Pridnestrovia today may still retain the look of a Communist state and it’s called “the last remaining Stalinist dictatorship in Europe”.
- Day 3Tiraspol – Bender – Noul Neamt MonasteryToday we invite you to enjoy the military parade and to discover the city of Tiraspol. We will admire the festivities of Independence Day and enjoy this unique atmosphere. After the parade, our guide will show us around, take us to ride a trolleybus in the city, and interact with local people. Lunch is optional but we may organize an interesting meeting with a World War II veteran who will share his memories of military campaigns he was involved in. Or you can enjoy the typical Russian dish, shashlik and all kind of other local treats freshly cooked in the market. Next stop – the Museum of Bender Tragedy. In 1992, during the bloody conflict at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse, 1,000 people, both military and innocent civilians, died. A memorial museum of the Bendery Tragedy opened September 1, 1997, on the fifth anniversary. In the evening, let’s pay a visit to the Noul Neamt Monastery. Dinner in the monastic style is quite an experience. A local monk will guide us around, showing the monastery library, giving us wine from the Monastery Cellars and explaining to us how religion survives in the Last Soviet Frontier of Europe. Same accommodation in Tiraspol.
- Day 4visiting Lenin in every Transnistrian villageToday we’ll do a treasure hunt – but because we are in Transnistria, of course, the main treasure will be the Lenin Statues inherited from Soviet times. We will drive north along the Dniester River. You will be amazed by the communist monuments still standing in villages and small towns like Grigoriopol, Ghidirim, Dubasari, Rezina, etc. We’ll have lunch on the way with a local family. Finally, we’ll arrive in Soroca, known for its sizable Roma minority. Accommodation in a 3-star hotel in Soroca. Free dinner.
- Day 5Soroca – Old Orhei – ChisinauAfter breakfast, you’ll visit the Soroca fortress, which is a unique monument of architecture, built in the Medieval Ages at the Nistru River bend as part of a huge Moldovan defensive system. Initially wooden, it was built of stone at the end of 15th century according to the “Golden Section” supreme law of harmony that made it unique among the examples of European military architecture. Another must see sight of Soroca is “The Gypsy Hill” that features mansions inspired by the Bolshoi theater, St Peter’s Basilica and the US Capitol. We will visit a gypsy family, who will proudly share their culture and traditions with us. Later we’ll drive to Old Orhei, Moldova’s most picturesque and important historical site. We’ll start with a local lunch with a farmer and continue by visiting Old Orhei, famous for the cave monasteries located there. This zone was ideal for the primary monasticism of early Christian community. It was isolated from the outer world. At the time when Christians came here there should have been smaller and bigger caves in the calcareous rocks cut by pre-historic tribes living on this territory. Today the monastery is inhabited by only one monk. Here we will have a typical Moldovan lunch in a nice cozy Moldovan house. Later we’ll drive back to Chisinau. Check-in and farewell dinner in a local wine bar specializing in promoting quality Moldovan wines produced by small producers.
- Day 6Chisinau and departure homeIf time allows we shall visit more Soviet sights of Chisinau, pay a visit to the Lenin Statue that is kept nowadays in a local park. Transfer to the airport. Departure back home.
Packing List for The Soviet Experience in Moldova (recommended)
- Weather of late spring in Moldova can be hot during the day and cool at night. Pack accordingly.
- Comfortable shoes for walking
- Cash (credit cards are commonly accepted in Chisinau and ATMs are easy to find there too, but outside of the capital it’s always a good idea to carry cash)
- Remember to pack light; you’ll have to carry your own bags.
Accommodation will be in 3-4 star hotels. Guests of the same gender will be paired in twin rooms. Those wishing to stay in single rooms can opt for the single supplement which costs $200 extra.
Your travel provider for this tour: Ways Travel
“Ways Travel” – is a company situated in Chisinau, in the Republic of Moldova, specializing in group travel throughout Moldova and surrounding countries Romania, Ukraine, and Bulgaria. They offer set itinerary trips groups as well as custom-tailored private tours. Ways Travel will help you discover unforgettable places that are unique in their own way. So let’s discover Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union together and we will change the way you think about successful vacations and opinions about traveling in this corner of Europe.
Cancellations and Refunds
If you must cancel your reservation for a tour and/or its extension, we will refund your payment, less the following fees per tour and/or extension:
|Days Prior to Trip Start Date||Trip Cancellation Fee Per Person|
|31 – 60 days||50% of trip price|
|0-30 days||100% of trip price|