Transnistria

If you arrive in Moldova and want to catch a feel of the former Soviet Union, then Transnistria is a must-visit destination. It is a self-proclaimed separatist region, emerged in the result of a civil war in 1990, and controlling that part of the territory of the Republic of Moldova, located east of the Nistru (left bank), but also six villages, as well as the municipality of Tighina, located west of the Nistru.

The population of the region has about 500 thousand inhabitants, mainly Russians, Romanians, Ukrainians, Gagauzians and Bulgarians. The most important cities of the region are Tiraspol, Bender and Ribnita. To get to Transnistria from Chisinau it is enough to take a taxi, which will cost you no more than $ 25 in one direction.
To travel across the border to Transnistria you need a travel passport. An identity card cannot help foreign tourists reach Transnistria. In case of a longer stay in Transnistria, you must register with their so-called Ministries of the interior or migration.

Places in Transnistria

One of Europe’s largest sturgeon farms is in Tiraspol. Some of its excellent caviar stays in the area, but a lot ends up tens of thousands of kilometers away on the tables of connoisseurs and fine restaurants. The fish are as long as a man is tall, leaving caviar buyers and tourists — especially children — agape. This makes it a great place to bring the family. Another attraction is seeing how one of the world’s most expensive culinary delights — black caviar — is processed. The best part is that after you’ve watched it, a fairy-tale tasting awaits you.The seven-hectare farm can produce 50 tons of fish and five tons of caviar a year. The grounds include seven ponds for breeding, growing the fish and recirculating the water. Each pool can accommodate 30 to 100 tons of sturgeon. The complex includes state-of-the-art laboratories.

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Also called Bender Fortress, Transnistria buffer zone The Ottomans built the fortress after Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent conquered the area in 1538. Also called the Tighina Fortress, it was one of medieval and Renaissance Moldova’s most important landmarks.  Sweden’s King Charles XII took refuge in the area after the Russians defeated his forces in the Battle of Poltova in 1709. Ottoman soldiers, trying to drive Charles from the area, fought several skirmishes with him. One of the fortress’s legends is that Charles’ crown is hidden in a dungeon there. Another legend is that the golden carriage of Ukrainian General Ivan Mazepa, who stopped at the complex, is hidden in the fortress.  For those interested in old-time warfare, the fort contains a torture chamber and museum.

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Noul Neamt Monastery

Noul Neamt Monastery, Moldova

    One of the joys of touring the Noul Neamt Monastery is that the monks love sharing their ancient crafts-making skills with visitors. The complex is an offshoot of the Neamt Monastery in Romania, so its spiritual traditions are a mixture of Romanian and Slavic. The Noul Neamt has an array of features that make it more intriguing than many Moldovan monasteries. It boasts four churches, an impressive library and a museum. It also has workshops for creating icons – paintings of Jesus or the saints – and sculpture. And it has a carpentry workroom. All are open to guests.

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    Guests get the feeling they will have a great experience at the Kumanek Restaurant before they even enter because of the atmosphere: It looks like a lodge or rustic country home. The main fare is traditional Ukrainian, which the chefs pour their soul into. Guests are astonished at how huge the menu is, with a range of fresh meat, fish, vegetables, soups and breads. One dish you shouldn’t miss is sarmale, cabbage stuffed with pork, tomatoes and sauerkraut cooked in a pot. Talk about a hearty meal!

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    When you enter the Karaman House Restaurant, you get the idea you are in a country home built a century ago. And the cooking matches the atmosphere. It consists of traditional Moldovan dishes that are hearty and scrumptious. If you want to learn how to make some, the staff will teach you. To gain an additional feel for local country life, you can help tend gardens. To top off your visit, try a relaxing boat ride on the Dniester River.

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    Museum of the Bottle

    Tarnauca, Transnistria

      You get a hint of what this museum is about before you enter because the building is shaped like a giant bottle. Once inside, you’ll know your hunch was right. The museum contains more than 20,000 bottles of alcoholic beverages from more than 170 countries. You’d be right if you guessed that its owner, Grigorii Corzun, is a character. He built the museum in the courtyard of his parents’ home. The courtyard also includes an inn and gazebo-like outdoor restaurant nooks. Corzun would be more than happy to let you taste his personal brandy, which carries the anglicized name Gregory Korzun Cognac. Some of it has aged more than six decades.

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