Umm? Pridnestrovie? Transnistria? You never heard of it? Don’t worry. 90% of the people I meet in my travels have never heard of it, too. Now you will become the part of the “chosen ones” and will discover what you can expect from going to this place.
If you fancy something alternative, here you are. It’s the destination "off the beaten touristy path". Pridnestrovie - Transnistria is "the country in the country" that you will not find on the world map. Just for the sake of putting your foot on the ground of the unrecognized country, it's worth visiting it. But, it's a unique place in the world with interesting places to visit and things to do.
This blog post is a travel guide to Transnistria - Pridnestrovie. Find out what is Transnistria - Pridnestrovie? Why travel there? What to see and visit in the capital of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, Tiraspol? What are the top things to do in Transnistria - Pridnestrovie?
Pridnestrovie or Transnistria?
First of all, Pridnestrovie or Transnistria?
The official name of Transnistria - Pridnestrovie is the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. The official abbreviation in English is PMR.
In Russian: Приднестровская Молдавская Республика, Pridnestrovskaya Moldavskaya Respublika.
In English, Pridnestrovie has got a wide variety of names that were used to describe the region by different foreign organizations. Among them: Trans-Dniester, Transdnistria, Transdniestria, Transdniestr, Trans-Dniestria, Transdniester, Transniestria, Transdnestr, also Trans-Dnjestr and Trans-Dnjester.
The government of Moldova refers to the region as Stînga Nistrului, which means "Left Bank of the Dniester", and the official name used in documents is Republica Moldovenească Nistreană.
Although most commonly known in English as Transnistria, the correct name of the region is Pridnestrovie.
Pridnestrovie is a transliteration of "Приднестровье" meaning "a land by the river Dniester".
All of the names mentioned above have their root in the name of the river Dniester.
In Romanian/Moldavian, the river is known as Nistru. The name "Transnistria" is Romanian/Moldavian and literally means "beyond the river Dniester".
If you dig a little in the history, you will discover that the name Transnistria refers to the Transnistria Governorate. The name initially appeared during the Second World War, defining the Romanian occupied zone of the left bank of the Dniester and the south-west part of the present Ukraine.
Therefore, the name "Transnistria" is very offensive to the locals.
What is Pridnestrovie - Transnistria and where is it located?
Pridnestrovie, or Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is the land, situated between Ukraine and Moldova and is a self-proclaimed country.
According to the United Nations, it’s just a region of the Republic of Moldova (an autonomous territory with a special status), - no any country-member state of the United Nations recognized it so far.
But de facto, since 1992 it is a state with all its attributions such as Constitution, President, government, army, borders, custom authorities, currency and banks.
I will not write here about the history and politics of this region, as it’s not my domain, and I leave it to the politicians and historians.
But please google about the different views on Pridnestrovian/Transnistrian past, present and future to have an idea.
Culture in Pridnestrovie (Transnistria)
Martisor, Lady Maslenitsa and Bliny - intercultural spring celebration in Transnistria
In the cultural context, Pridnestrovie is a fusion of Moldovan, Russian and Ukrainian cultures.
It is manifested in the local holidays, celebrations, customs and local cuisine.
For example, Pridnestrovians / Transnistrians celebrate Maslenitsa - the Butter Week during which people bake bliny, thin pancakes, play games, and burn a straw “Lady Maslenitsa” as a symbol of a leaving winter. It is a common religious and folk holiday in Russia and for the Eastern Slavs.
At the same time, Pridnestrovians also celebrate Mărțișor, a celebration at the beginning of spring. It is common for Moldova, Romania, and Bulgaria. People make red and white string with hanging tassel and offer it to their friends and family on the 1st day of March.
WHY TRAVEL TO PRIDNESTROVIE - TRANSNISTRIA ?
This video is a great introduction to what you can see in Pridnestrovie:
TOP THINGS TO SEE & DO IN PRIDNESTROVIE (TRANSNISTRIA)
1 | Explore the Soviet past and travel back in time in Pridnestrovie
During the recent years, Pridnestrovie changed a lot and became more modern. You will see beautiful parks, promenades, fountains, recreation areas, modern supermarkets, restaurants, and stadiums.
But at the same time, Pridnestrovie doesn't get rid of its Soviet past. Pridnestrovians respect their history, and even the difficult part of it. That's why all the monuments from the USSR times stay there as they were.
Generally, if you walk around the capital of Pridnestrovie (Transnistria), Tiraspol, the feeling of the Soviet era is present at the every step.
Coat of arms of Pridnestrovie ( Transnistria )
The coat of arms of Pridnestrovie (Transnistria) is a remodeled version of the former Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic emblem (MSSR).
The only major pictorial change made in the Pridnestrovian (Transnistrian) version is the addition of waves, representing the River Dniester.
Passport of the Prednestrovian Moldavian Republic
The passport of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic looks very similar to the passport of the USSR.
Pridnestrovian (Transnistrian) money
One of the main attributes of Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is money, a Pridnestrovian / Transnistrian ruble.
On the coins you will see the Soviet coat of arms with accompanying symbols: hammer, sickle and star.
Pridnestrovian (Transnistrian) flag
Other symbol of Pridnestrovie / Transnisria with the USSR heritage is it's flag which is an exact copy of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic flag dating from 1952.
Next, the monuments of the leader of the world proletariat, Lenin, stand on the main squares in towns and you can find the slogans and the mosaic in the spirit of the USSR inside and outside of many buildings.
Some streets in Pridnestrovie / Transnistria are named after revolutionary socialists such as Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin and Karl Liebknecht.
2 | Find Lenin and other USSR monuments
As in Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic they don't dismantle monuments like in other post-USSR countries and countries from the Communist block, you can see several Lenin monuments in different cities of Pridnestrovie - Transnistria.
In Tiraspol there are two Lenin monuments: one in front of the city council of people's deputies (House of Soviets) and the other in front of the Supreme Council and Government of the PMR.
In Bendery, the monument to Lenin was erected in the Lenin Komsomol park. And the second one is on Moskovskaya Street, in front of one of the buildings of the Bender shoe factory.
In Rybnitsa, you can see the monument to Lenin on the city square, in front of the Palace of Culture.
3 | Pay in shops with plastic money
It may sound like a joke, but it’s not!
To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the national currency in 2014, the Pridnestrovian (Transnistrian) Bank issued coins in denominations of 1, 3, 5 and 10 rubles made of composite.
This type of plastic money is not produced anywhere else in the world.
Coins have different geometric shapes and colors.
You can pay with plastic money in any shop in Pridnestrovie (Transnistria).
4 | Drink Kvass from a giant jerrycan
Kvass… I am sure you will like it! It’s so refreshing, especially if you drink it on a hot summer day. Kvass is a traditional drink and it was invented by the Slavs in the last millennium.
It is a healthy and tasty fermented drink made from black bread. Being a non-alcoholic beverage, the alcohol content in kvass from fermentation is typically only around 0.5 %.
In Soviet times, kvass was sold on the streets in giant jerrycans and you still can sometimes find it in Pridnestrovie (Transnistria).
5| Taste Pridnestrovian Mamaliga, Okroshka and other delicious local food
If you like discovering new dishes when you travel, you will definitely find something yummy in Pridnestrovie (Transnistria).
The specificity of cuisine in this region is that, thanks to the multi-nationality of its population, it’s a fusion of Moldovan, Ukrainian and Russian dishes with different variations of recipes.
My favorites are mamaliga, borscht and okroshka.
I recommend you eat at the village-styled Kumanek restaurant, Tiraspol, Sverdlov street, 37.
6 | Shop for ecologically-produced Black caviar
If you are an animal welfare defender, please skip this part.
For others, whose ethics doesn’t prohibit eating caviar, there is something for you.
You can find in Pridnestrovie (Transnistria) not only the remains from the past, but also modern shops and production sites like one of the world´s largest sturgeon recirculation facility, Aquatir.
This farm breeds fishes and produces black caviar with the innovative “no-kill” method: the caviar is extracted without killing the fish.
You can buy the caviar in the shops in Tiraspol at the producer’s price which is many times lower before it’s exported abroad.
7| Find out why there is a Turkish fortress in Pridnestrovie (Transnistria)
Bender Fortress, located in the city of Bendery, attracts history buffs from all over the globe.
It was founded by the Turks in the XVI century, but restored and opened to the public only several years ago.
Built as a bastion, the fortress served as a protective structure for the troops of the Turkish Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, who captured at that time Moldavian Principality.
Many have tried to recapture the fortress, but it was possible only in 1770 by General Panin during the Russian-Turkish war.
You will learn more about the colorful history of this fortress and the region during your visit of the fortress.
It is open every day from 8 a.m. till 4 p.m. and on the weekends from 10 a.m. till 3 p.m.
In the fortress you can also visit two museums and a souvenir shop.
To visit the Bender Fortress and other attractions of Pridnestrovie (Transnistria) in a company of a guide, join the 1-day tour of Transnistria from Odessa.
On this tour, you will not only visit the ancient Bender Fortress, Festung Tighina, built in the 16th century, but also numerous monuments dedicated to Lenin and buildings with symbols of the USSR period in Bendery and Tiraspol.
The guide will share with you interesting facts about Pridnestrovie and local stories.
More details about this tour here:
8 | Learn what “the Commonwealth of Unrecognized States-2” is and visit the embassies of other unrecognized countries in Tiraspol
No any country in the world recognizes Pridnestrovie (Transnistria) as a state.
Except some other unrecognized countries, such as south Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia.
To support each other, they even created the Commonwealth of Unrecognized States in 2000, a sort of international organization for cooperation between the unrecognized states.
You can visit their diplomatic missions, - the Representations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Tiraspol, 25 October street, 76.
9 | Come for a degustation of Pridnestrovian wine at the Bottle Museum
Enter a giant bottle of 28 meters height and you will find 6 beautiful rooms that house more than 10 thousand bottles of different types of alcoholic beverages from 105 countries of the world.
You come across unique items, such as a bottle, which is 300 years old, or a bottle which was brought from the bottom of the sea, or another one, discovered during archaeological excavations.
Here you may not only look at the rare and exclusive bottles, but also taste wine and brandy of local producers.
The Bottle Museum is situated in Tiraspol, Ternovka, Karl Marx street, 13.
10 | Discover new unique landscapes of Pridnestrovie (Transnistria)
Go to the Pridnestrovian (Transnistrian) countryside and you will find dreamy and peaceful landscapes of the River Dniestr, the fields of sunflowers, apple gardens and vineyards.
One of the picturesque areas is near the Stroienti village in the north of Pridnestrovie (Transnistria).
Go there to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and to forget about all the urban problems.
You will see springs, streams, hills with vineyards, a mysterious "tower of the winds", which has its own legend, an old mill converted into a cozy restaurant, a little monastery and their bee-garden and an authentic village.
Nearby there is another village Rashkov, a place of three religions (Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism).
Other places surrounded by beautiful nature and worth visiting are Kamienka and Cioburciu.
11 | Experience an authentic hospitality of Pridnestrovian people
Pridnestrovie (Transnistria) is not a very popular touristy place. Local people don’t meet here many foreigners, especially from the Western countries.
That’s why when you get in contact with them, in the beginning, Pridnestrovian people may seem cold, reserved, distant and not-smiling.
But after a few moments when you make a connection with them, they will be truly interested in you, ready to help, to show you around and to invite you for dinner at their place.
And you will receive a true smile “not for everyone”.
HAVE A NICE TIME IN PRIDNESTROVIE!
Sasha & The Alternative Travel Guide