Looking for something unique and authentic? Also seeking for green and affordable trip? Travel to Chisinau in Moldova!
It’s been 4 years since Denis took me with him for the first time to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova and I had absolutely no clue what to expect. I must say that I had never been to Eastern Europe. Moldova is a relatively young country, about 25 years old and oftentimes people think that it is a region belonging to Romania. This used to be the case back in the day but not anymore since the Soviet Union.Since I returned more than 3 times and I must admit that I love the city and the whole country. Of course I have a sentimental attachment. But beyond my particular affection for Moldova, the city is surprisingly full of contrasts and diversity, both in terms of its architecture and of the people who inhabit it.
Chisinau : ” a reflection of the USSR past prestige “
The first thing that I told myself upon arriving in Chisinau was that it’s not a very pretty city. The buildings are typical to the Soviet era and they haven’t been renovated due to the lack of public financing. It is true that it’s not by the architectural beauty of this city that you will be fascinated. White buildings, many of them abandoned, provide the capital with a look and feel of a construction site.
However, even though at first glance the urban landscape is not amongst the most incredible you’ll ever witness, the moment that you reach the historical centre you will be seduced by the history and the charm of the city reflected in its buildings. The Nativity Cathedral of Chisinau or the “Mihai Eminescu” National Theatre, the National History Museum where Romus and Remulus are guarding the entrance, are all reminiscent of Moldova’s Latin origins. The contrast between the Latin origins and the imposing domination of the Soviet architecture gives Chisinau a unique and singular charm.
A”green” city with tons of parks and woods
What will surprise you even more is the multitude of green spaces in the city. For a city that is the capital of the poorest country in Europe, it is very green, even more than a metropolis like Paris or Bangkok (proportionally, obviously). Relatively dense forests border the city and you will even see in the heart of the historical centre big parks like the Alley of Roses or even more so in the centre, the Public Garden “Stefan cel Mare” of Chisinau.
The city has very little public budget. Therefore, children are collecting garbage in the parks as parts of educational program.
An unforgettable experience: Chisinau central Bazar!
Finally the image will be complete the moment you reach the central bazaar, an incredibly hectic place from 6h to 18h in the evening without interruption. Passing through the stands is almost impossible, between a granny who is choosing her bryndza (local cheese) and an old man who came all the way from a nearby village to sell his grapes. And then you will see many women all dressed up in their Sunday clothes who came to do their shopping in this crowded and dynamic market. It’s a real challenge to not 1. lose yourself and/or 2. lose your partner. But you will discover the best fruits and vegetables that you’ve ever tasted and you will most likely end up befriending one or two Moldovans trying to speak French. A true life adventure!
All in all, in Chisinau you will have the opportunity to try some very good cafés, restaurants and bars for almost no cost. Organic cafés and fair-trade markets are beginning to emerge and quite a few shops have started selling organic products while the majority of fruits and vegetables that you can find in the central bazaar are already 100% bio.
Juste aux abords de la ville, des attractions uniques comme la plus grande cave à vins du monde
And then if you are tempted to try new experiences, outside of Chisinau yet still fairly close by, you can go to the biggest wine cave in the world – Milesti Mici, visit the castles of Cricova (another wine producer), the archeological complex Orhei or the Hincu Monastery. An article about the activities that you can do around Chsinau will follow.
All of the above attractions are easily reachable by bus, however we recommend that you rent a car as the frequency of public buses is quite random outside of the city.
Finally, where should you enjoy the sunset? There is nothing better than going to the lake Danceni. It is possible to rent local barbecue tools and equipment nearby. The more adventurous types can climb to the top of the abandoned tower located approximately 100 meters from the lake as you will have stunning views of the city and nature.
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Translation & Copy Editing by Liana Marinoiu
Cet article est disponible en Français (French)