Moldova

Previously one of the Soviet republics of the USSR, Moldova, in Eastern Europe, is landlocked between Romania and Ukraine, a secluded destination for tourists. Moldova is situated near other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and thus can easily be included in a longer cross-European trip.

Moldovans are closely linked to Romanians when it comes to language, including the use of the Latin alphabet, though Russian is widely spoken as well. In 1992, the country suffered ethnic and political conflicts which led to the breakaway republic Pridnestrovian Moldavian, or Transnistria Republic, in the eastern part of the country. However, the new republic is not recognised by any country, except Russia.

Chisinau, or Kishinev, the capital of Moldova, boasts the Catedrala Nasterea Domnului (Christmas Cathedral), the Cathedral of St Tyron and the Arch of Triumph. Other attractions of the city include the National Archaeology and History Museum, as well as Stefan cel Mare Boulevard, where popular cultural venues, shops and restaurants are located.

The countryside of Moldova reveals the ancient cave monastery of Orheiul Vechi (Old Orehi), located on the Raut River near the village of Trebujeni. This monstrous monastery was carved out of the cave’s limestone in the 13th Century, and is an architectural highlight and an Orthodox holy place. Other impressive cave monasteries of Moldova include Saharna Monastery and Tipova Monastery. Another popular destination includes the town of Soroca, which is known for its large gypsy community and an impressive fortress, which was built by Stephen cel Mare, the renowned ruler of Moldova at the end of the 15th Century.

The geographical make-up of Moldova is mostly flat or slightly undulated, with five natural reservations, including the Codrii Reservation; Padurea din Domneasca Reservation, known for rich its fauna and flora; Iagorlic Reservation; Prutul de Jos Reservation; and the Plaiul Fagului Reservation.

Moldova is also well known for its abundance of vineyards and production of red wine. The Cricova winery, in the city of Cricova, specialises in the production of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, and features a labyrinth of paths lined with grapevines and a large system of underground cellars carved in limestone. The Milestii Mici Winery is also popular for its large cellars. The wineries offer tasting during their festivals in the beginning of October.

The country is easily accessible by its international airport, located some 14 kilometres from the centre of Chisinau. A holiday in Moldova is recommended for those looking for a less typical tourist destination. Even the language problems are not an obstacle, as the locals are friendly and helpful.