This quiet landlocked country located in eastern Europe seems to be unheard of by most people outside of its continent. Moldova is definitely one of those countries in Europe that rarely finds itself on the tourist map and when I visited I felt like I had the whole country to myself! I was actually surprised to find out that Moldova is the poorest country in Europe per capita. While there might not giant corporations and sprawling shopping district here, the cities are kept clean and people I met were very respectful. As far as travel goes, it seemed the theme to Moldova was wineries and monasteries, with some interesting places in the capital and plenty of timeless rural villages around the country.
The capital of the poorest country in Europe makes a different visit for those willing to step off the beaten path. The city is small by European standards, and wouldn’t appeal to the average traveler. In fact, locals are often known to ask travelers why would they ever travel to Chisinau! The biggest appeal once in Chisinau is to take advantage of the extremely low prices and treat yourself to nice restaurants and great night life.
Orheiul Vechi is an archaeological site of former civilizations that lived in the region. Most of them took use of the mountains to carve a network of rooms and tunnels for their city. Many of the rooms are open for exploration, and the Orthodox Monastery remains to this day.
The Milestii Mici took advantage of a enormous used mine and transformed it into the largest winery in the world. The cool conditions underground make it perfect for making wine, and with thousands of kilometers of tunnels and an underground river, Milestii Mici has everything it needs to operate. The winery has earned itself in the Guinness book of world records, and no one should visit Moldova without a wine tasting tour here.
Moldova’s most famous and beautiful monastery is located in the heart of the country. Built in the mid 15th century, the monastery is also one of the country’s historic sites. Several buildings stand in the monastery grounds that are well kept by the monks who make the their home. Of the several structures that are here in Capriana, the most famous and beautiful of all is the ‘Winter Church’.
Moldova’s countryside is filled with small towns, forests, and wildlife. The simple life still make lots of use of horses, old fashioned motorcycles and other traditions that have gone away in most of the world.
The breakaway region of Transnistria exists in the eastern part of Moldova. The tiny area is almost like a piece of the Soviet Union that still has been preserved. With their own currency being printed, hammers and sickles still used by the local government and other communist propaganda, visiting Transnistria is as close to experiencing communism in the modern world as possible. Most people don’t take more than a day trip to visit Transnistria, but such a unique experience is well worth it.