Sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine in eastern Europe, the tiny region of Transnistria remains unknown to most of the world. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s giving independence to several nations the eastern part of Moldova quickly began to have political tensions with their new government. Finally in March 1992 a brief civil war erupted that ended with over 1,000 killed and a cease fire brokered by Russia and other nearby nations. The cease fire has continued to hold steady, but not much else has changed in the past two decades since Transnistria and Moldova were born. Today thousands of Russian troops are stationed in the country guarding the borders, former Soviet military depots, and maintaining large bases within the region.
One of the world’s greatest generals to ever live was Alexander Suvorov, who led the Russian imperial army for over 50 years during the 18th century. He is considered to be the Russian version of Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great, as he never lost a battle. His statue is seen above in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria and a city which Alexander Suvorov founded himself. On the left is the city’s Arch of Triumph.
On the left is the official flag of Transnistria and their national symbol seen above. I would think this is the only place on earth where you can see an active hammer and sickle on an official government flag instead of a political party or historic building. A friend I made while traveling here told me the political and government system now is somewhat similar to Russia’s and adopted some principles based off the Soviet Union as well.
From a few negative experiences I had in Russia, I expected similar issues in Transnistria but all the people I encountered were polite and helpful. These two guys above were visiting Tiraspol and checking out sites like I was. They were more than happy to let me take their picture; on the right is a close up of one of the general’s medals, many of them seemed to be issued during Soviet times. I know Russia has thousands of troops in Transnistria for sure, and they were even patrolling the borders along Moldova. I believe these soldiers stationed here from Ukraine.
On the left was my one of my first stops in Transnistria, a statue of Grigory Potemkin, a military leader and politician who was a favorite of Catherine the great back in the late 1700s. Here his statue stands in front of a large cemetery that is the final resting place of soldiers from colonial Russian wars which included people from west Europe.
These graves above where from the cemetery which Grigory Potemkin is standing in front of. There must be over a thousand graves here, and I saw different nationalities such as German troops for example. All the dates that I saw were between the 18th and 19th centuries.
Above is the parliament building for the government. It has a tall statue of Lenin built directly in front of it, unfortunately with several power lines in front of it as well. On the right is another tank that was used in the civil war, and has the Transnistrian flag behind it.
Sadly, I can’t tell you what this monument is for since I can’t read any of the Russian writing. The tank that you saw above is part of this area, and because of the tall monument here this place is obviously important and I assume a memorial dedicated to Transnistrian’s civil war.
These photos are from the Hero’s cemetery, also called the Memorial of Glory. A part of the cemetery even is dedicated to soldier’s who lost their lives in Afghanistan, but most of the cemetery is dedicated to the dead from the civil war in 1992. The tank on the right being climbed by kids was also used in the civil war.
Transnistria’s own courthouse, or council on the left. I’m not sure of the history of the castle on the right, but from what my driver was saying Turks may have built it or tried to attack it at least. I know a larger former Turkish base in the country is currently being used as a Russian military base.
The building on the left was a small part of the city’s university. I assume these kids on the right playing will eventually go there someday!
The two photos above are from Tiraspol’s Church of Nativity. The Russian Orthodox church is new and was just completed in 1999. It seemed to be the most beautiful church I saw in Transnistria, and is now appears on some of the currency.
These things here are actually long abandoned Soviet vending machines. I these worked by placing a cup underneath a nozzle and selecting your drink rather than pressing a button and having a bottled drink come out.
For such a small area, Transnistria has a population of over half a million, with close to 400,000 of those people living here in Tiraspol. The most common way of transportation seemed to be trams like these two seen above.
Of course plenty of people own their own cars, and a lot just choose to walk. I did a decent amount of walking through Tiraspol, and crossed this bridge that goes over the Dniester River. I thought this was for people only, but two cars drove over this while I was on it.
There were lots of people fishing in the Dniester River, I’m not sure what kind of fish they might catch here but the color of the water didn’t give me the impression it would be anything appealing. This river begins in Ukraine and heads south through Transnistria, back into Ukraine and then empties out in the Black Sea.
The Dniester River isn’t put to waste by Transnistria. Above is a larger part of the river, with people kayaking on the right. I definitely didn’t expect any kind of beach along the river, but but there were people sunbathing and swimming and even a volleyball net set up by the banks.
There seemed to be a fair amount of nightlife in Transnistria. On the left is an advertisement for a new club that had just opened up, on the right is another place that goes between a strip club and dance club I was told. Below is another club called Plazma and on the lower right the Pharaoh Cafe.
Two other places for entertainment are the movie theaters and the old traditional theater of Tiraspol on the right. It seems that they play American movies here, with the newest Pirates of the Caribbean coming out, and they were even showing it in 3D!
Here are some apartments located in Transnistria. The old Soviet block style apartments were similar to those in Moldova in my opinion and probably were created at the same time under Soviet leadership.
Like Moldova, Andy’s Pizza exists in Transnistria too. Because of the bad relations between Transnistria and Moldova I didn’t expect them to allow businesses from Moldova to exist in Tiraspol. I ended up eating here, and the pizza was big enough that we took it to go. Apparently taking a pizza to go has never been done before in Transnistria, so the lady put the remaining slices of pizza in a paper bag with a fork.
I have no idea what these guys were doing or where they were from. They seemed to be doing some type of Indian related dance and were playing music in downtown Tiraspol. The local I was with said she had never seen them here before, so maybe they were just traveling and stopped by Transnistria for a free show.
I forget the guy’s name to the left, but he was a French soldier and architect who designed many cities in Russia. On the right is Catherine the Great the second. Both of these places were located in the same city park where I saw the Indian dances going on.
The really nice store above is some kind of kids store. It was completely covered on the outside with posters from the Ice Age cartoon, so I’m not sure exactly what they sold inside. On the right is a random statue of one of the seven dwarfs I saw while walking down a main street in Tiraspol.
Here are two shopping areas in Tiraspol. I honestly expected Transnistria to be a pretty beat up place, but the streets were very clean and many shops seemed to be busy. As a matter of fact, the Andy’s Pizza here was much busier than the one in Chisinau, but then again I visited on different days of the week. I didn’t check out the prices here, but it was probably a good opportunity to buy clothes.
Examples of Soviet and Russian influence in Transnistria. I’ve seen plenty of Soviet influence in Moldova, but there definitely seems to be much more visible in Transnistria. On the left is a memorial dedicated to Joseph Stalin, and on the right a message from Russian President Putin.
I stopped by a liquor store to change some money since there was also a exchange booth inside. I couldn’t help but buy a bottle of Transnistrian Cognac for the equivalent of $2. Right outside the liquor store was this strange looking military ambulance parked along the street.
Another small market I came across in Tiraspol. There were about 20 or more shops here and the insides were tiny. It reminded me of something you’d see in Japan. The right had photo was taken from the front door and you can see the place is crammed with merchandise.
Two people shots in Tiraspol. An older woman dragging a cart down October street. On the right, a lady rips me off after selling me a locally made drink called Kvas. The drink cost 1 Transnistrian Rubble, and when I gave her a 10 and bought 3 total for others that were with me she gave me about half a rubble in change back. Since this was about 50 cents to me I didn’t say anything, but it shows I might have to be careful if I was purchasing something more valuable. The drink by the way looks like a beer but is non alcoholic. It’s made from bread and has a very unique taste to it which I liked.