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.
Explore the best unique monuments and buildings from the Soviet times and as well as abandoned USSR places on this private tour.
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 in Transnistria / Pridnestrovie
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 | Take a boat trip and see Tiraspol from the river Dniestr
I recommend to everyone who comes to Tiraspol to take a boat trip and have a good time enjoying the ride, the views of beautiful shores, nature, and the city.
There are two boats that sail along the Dniester River: Vladimir Grushko and Nikolay Gribanov.
These motor ships require renovation but despite their not young age, they sail every day in the warm season without incidents.
The boats are in great demand, locals love to spend their weekends sailing along the river, and enjoying the beauty of the banks.
The motor ships Grushko and Gribanov sail every day. The fare is 25 PMR rubles, a little more than $ 2.
The Grushko boat is more popular than Gribanov. It is more modern, accommodates more people; there is a minibar where you can buy a beer, soft drinks, and snacks. Music plays on board, and everyone is always dancing and having fun.
Moreover, you can order your favorite song for a symbolic fee.
There is also music and a bar on Gribanov boat, but for some reason, there are always fewer people on it, it is not so fun. It plays the music of the 80-90s and attracts the older generation.
The motor ships work seasonally: in spring and autumn - only on weekends, and in summer, they sail every day.
The duration of the trip is one hour.
I enjoyed the fascinating ride along the Dniester by boat. Don't miss it!
4 | Explore the local art scene in Tiraspol Art Gallery
If you are interested in art, visit the Tiraspol Art Gallery and discover local artists.
The gallery is a branch of the Tiraspol United Museum and was opened in 1962. In 2018 the Gallery got a new location.
Over the years of its existence, the gallery has organized more than 300 exhibitions.
Among them, there were big exhibitions of works by Russian artists of the 18-19th century, exhibitions from the funds of the State Tretyakov Gallery (1979), an exhibition of etchings Shishkin (1989).
The museum has accumulated about 5,000 artworks including a collection of works by the Honored Art Worker of the MSSR, Honorary Citizen of Tiraspol Alexandr Foinitsky.
In the new gallery, one hall is dedicated to the paintings of the local famous artist Alexander Foinitsky.
In the next hall, you can discover paintings by other local artists and Foinitsky's students - followers of the classical school of Russian realistic art: Zykova, Glushchenko, Rudenko, Radovanov, and Grigorashenko.
In the third hall, the interior of Foinitsky's house with his personal belongings is reproduced.
So, the gallery is the place to see the artworks of both venerable artists and novice brush masters from Pridnestrovie / Transnistria.
Address: Тирасполь, пер. Набережный, 1 - Tiraspol, Naberezhny Ln 1
Open: every day except Monday, from 9:30 till 18:00
5 | Visit the famous KVINT factory on a cognac & chocolate tour in Tiraspol
If you are in Tiraspol and you like cognac and wine, you should not miss a visit of the legendary Pridnestrovian / Transnistrian producer of these alcoholic beverages KVINT.
You can do it on a guided tour.
The tour lasts 2 hours include an excursion in the museum, production lines, storage, and degustation.
The guide will tell you the history of the enterprise and reveal the secrets of memorable dates and product awards.
KVINT began its history in 1897 when in a cleaning warehouse a forty-degree grape vodka was prepared from the wine material of the surrounding villages.
The production of cognacs began here only in 1938.
Cognacs gained wide popularity back in Soviet times and is still a favorite alcoholic drink in Pridnestrovie / Transnistria competing with wine.
Today the enterprise is the undisputed leader in the production of alcoholic beverages in the region.
The work of the KVINT masters makes it possible to prepare excellent cognacs that successfully compete with the products of prestigious world manufacturers.
KVINT storages contain about 10 million liters of absolute alcohol and cognac aged from 1 to 60 years.
During the tour, while you visit production halls and storage facilities, you will see how the famous KVINT drinks are born.
The important part of the tour is the tasting of different cognacs.
With the help of a sommelier, you will unveil the perfect pairing between cognac and chocolate.
6 | Pay in shops with Pridnestrovian / Transnistrian 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.
7 | Understand the history of Pridnestrovie / Transnistria in the War Museum
To make your own opinion about the political situation in Pridnestrovie / Transnistria, visit the Memorial Museum of the Bendery Tragedy.
It was opened in 1997, five years later after the bloody events.
The exposition reflects the events in Pridnestrovie and Bendery of the end of the 20th century in chronological order.
Here you will learn about the political strikes of August-September 1989, the creation of the Pridnestrovian / Transnistrian statehood, its army, and the repulsion of Moldova's aggression in spring and summer 1992, and the post-war events in the city and the region.
The exposition includes photos, documents, material objects, and the Hall of Memory and Sorrow that recreate the picture of events and reveal the heroism of the city's defenders.
Address: Memorial Museum of Bendery tragedy
Bendery, st. Soviet, 44
(Мемориальный музей Бендерской трагедии
Бендеры, ул. Советская, 44 )
Open: everyday from 8:30 till 17:30 except Wednesday and Sunday.
8 | Drink Kvass from a giant jerrycan in Tiraspol
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).
MORE TO DISCOVER ABOUT TRANSNISTRIA / PRIDNESTROVIE:
Transnistria / Pridnestrovie deserves to spend more than one day here. Most foreigners limit themselves only to visiting Tiraspol and the Bendery Fortress on a one-day excursion, but in fact, you can spend in Transnistria / Pridnestrovie a whole fascinating week.
If you are thinking about spending the night in Transnistria / Pridnestrovie, here are some recommendations for where to stay in Tiraspol and other cities of this unusual self-proclaimed state.
Would you like to spend the night in the castle in Bendery, stay in the hotel from the USSR times in Tiraspol, or maybe sleep in the museum of alcohol?
What do you need to know before visiting Pridnestrovie? This blog post is the travel advice for Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. It contains all the practical information needed for a safe trip there: do you need a visa to Transnistria-Pridnestrovie? What is the process of registration on arrival?
How to get to Tiraspol from Odessa and Chisinau independently and with an organized tour? Do you need an accreditation in Transnistria / Pridnestrovie if you travel as a photographer?
Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is one of the most fascinating places you will ever visit. It's an unrecognized republic that was created in 1990 with a unique culture, architecture, monuments, food and attractions.
Experience the most of Pridnestrovie (Transnistria) with a local guide on a carefully selected itinerary. Immerse in the local culture and learn how it is to live in a country that "does not exist".
Here are the best tours and excursions in Pridnestrovie - Transnistria.
9 | 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.
10 | Shop for ecologically-produced Black caviar
If you are an animal welfare defender, please skip this part.
If your 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.
Historically, surgeons could be found in the waters of the river Dniestr.
Unfortunately, human neglect of the environment has destroyed the millennial migration route of sturgeon to spawn in the upper reaches of the river.
The fish breeding company Aquatir actually made it possible to return sturgeon fish to its historical habitat.
In terms of technical equipment, the enterprise occupies one of the leading places in the world.
The main activity is the cultivation of sturgeon fish of pure species of the Caspian and Azov-Black Sea populations, as well as the production of natural black caviar.
Black caviar from the Aquatir company is a noble product, a symbol of taste and luxury that can delight the most sophisticated gourmet.
When preparing caviar, the company does not use any preservatives except for salt as this is the only way to preserve the unique natural taste of black caviar.
Moreover, you can visit the Aquatir production site of black caviar on a guided Black Caviar and Sparkling Wine Tour. The company produces 50-80 tons of fish and 5 tons of caviar per year.
During the tour, you will see live sturgeon fish species in the pools, learn about the cultivation of sturgeon and the production of natural black caviar.
You will be impressed by the size of the beluga, the beauty, and grace of the sturgeon, and you will discover many interesting facts about breeding these valuable fish species.
The tour includes the degustation of the black caviar and sparkling wine.
If you like, after the tour, you can also buy the caviar at the producer’s price that is a way lower before it’s exported abroad.
11 | 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:
12 | Spend the night in the castle-hotel Old Bastion near the Bendery Fortress
If you are planning to visit the Bendery fortress, I recommend staying overnight at the Old Bastion hotel, which is located near the fortress.
The Bendery fortress was built by the order of Suleiman the Great and originally belonged to the Ottoman Empire.
While resting in the hotel Old Bastion, you have the opportunity to visit the fortress and museums, the Alexander Nevsky park, an observation deck, and also enjoy the views of the Dniester.
The hotel is designed in the old Turkish style making a joint architectural ensemble with the Bendery fortress.
It is a convenient place for exploring the region as Tiraspol is only 20 km from the hotel, and the airport of Chisinau is 45 km away.
In this hotel, you can truly relax as there is a spa salon with a Turkish hammam and a Russian bath.
And, if you want to try different local dishes, you don't need to walk far from the hotel. In the hotel Old Bastion there are ! FIVE ! restaurants with Moldovan, Russian, Ukrainian, and Turkish cuisine.
Moreover, it's a 5 star hotel with all the luxury amenities, and the price per night is from $83.
I promise, you won't be disappointed! If you are searching for the place that has it all, look no further.
13 | 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.
14 | Explore the place of three religions in Rascov
Another great thing to do in Pridnestrovie / Transnistria is to go to the countryside.
There you will find dreamy and peaceful landscapes of the River Dniestr, the fields of sunflowers, apple gardens and vineyards.
In different periods, this place in the north of Transnistria was part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Russian Empire.
The border location contributed to the cultural multi-layeredness that is still noticeable.
The Rascov village is a place of three religions - Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Judaism.
Here, on a small territory, you can visit the Orthodox Holy Trinity Church from the end of the 18th century, the oldest Catholic church in Moldova - the Church of St. Cayetan and the ruins of a synagogue.
15 | Go to Stroiesti, the Transnistrian / Pridnestrovian land of springs
The village of Stroiesti, Rybnitsa region, is a real land of pure springs. There are nine of them here. The Teplitsa spring is the largest one.
As in the case of Kamenka, the history of the village is closely connected with the Russian Field Marshal Peter Wittgenstein.
On the outskirts of the village, there are ruins of his estate and the rocky slopes that Wittgenstein turned into terraces for growing grapes.
Through the vineyard terraces, you can go to the observation deck and the Tower of the Winds.
It is a monument in the form of a gazebo that was created at the end of the 19th century in memory of Wittgenstein by his daughter, Emilia Trubetskoy.
You can admire here a picturesque forest valley with a stream forming a series of cascades and small waterfalls.
There is also a water mill built at the end of the 19th century.
16 | Visit and spend the night 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.
The bottles are very diverse: from the smallest ones, like a bottle from Mexico in the form of a cartridge that holds only 10 grams of whiskey, to a huge 25 liters pot-bellied bottle with Ukrainian vodka.
Here you may not only look at the rare and exclusive bottles, but also taste wine and brandy of local producers.
Have you seen the movie Night at the museum?
If you want to have an unusual experience in Transnistria, you can spend a night in the museum.
The Bottle Museum is also a cozy hotel with a swimming pool, a restaurant, a barbecue corner, and a tennis court.
Price per night in the Bottle Museum is $18 - $30.
17 | See unique Soviet sculptures in the best USSR park of 1982 year in Ciobruci
The village of Cioburciu (Чобручи) is located in the south of Pridnestrovie / Transnistria in the Slobodzeya region.
It is worth going there at least to see the local park. In 1982, this park won in a competition for the best culture and recreation park in the USSR.
It deteriorated since that time but is still a fascinating place to visit.
The park was founded in 1953 by the sculptor Dmitry Rodin who began with creative experiments in his yard and ended up with a full-fledged park ensemble.
On a small plot of land, there are rocks, ponds with Dniester lilies and swans, bridges, sculptural compositions, a rotunda gazebo, alleys, and flower beds planted with decorative trees, shrubs, flowers.
A unique feature of the park is that all the sculptures are made not of stone but poured out of concrete.
18 | Visit the Noul Neamt Monastery - Kitskany Monastery
The correct name of this Orthodox male monastery is Свято-Вознесенский Ново-Нямецкий (Holy Ascension Novo-Nyametsky, or Noul Neamț Monastery), but more often the locals call it simply Kitskansky Monastery.
It is located on a hill on the banks of the Dniester near Tiraspol, in the village of Kitskany.
The construction of the monastery began in the second half of the 19th century and took almost 50 years.
However, the history of the monastery is longer. The mention of the famous Nyametsky Lavra that began the history of the Kitskansky Monastery is known already in 1367.
In 1958, the monastery was closed and converted into a hospital.
Gradually, local buildings fell into decay. The revival began only at the end of the 20th century.
There are 4 churches on the territory of the monastery: Holy Ascension Cathedral, Assumption Church, Nikolsky Church and Holy Cross.
There is a beautiful oak alley with figures of novices carved into the trunks.
You can visit thechurch museum, a library with preserved documents and old books, a printing house and an icon-painting workshop.
I climbed the monastery bell tower that is the highest in Moldova. Its height is 69 meters and it consists of five tiers. It is often compared to the bell tower of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra.
From its very top tier I enjoyed an amazing view of the picturesque surroundings.
19 | Experience the lavender fields in bloom in Pridnestrovie / Transnistria
It may surprise you, but Pridnestrovie / Transnistria has its lavender Provence!
A lavender field of 100 hectares is located in the Dubossary region, near the village of Goian (Гояны).
There are about 30 varieties of lavender. In Pridnestrovie / Transnistria they grow the most valuable variety of lavender: purple and lilac lavender.
By the way, the village of Goian itself also deserves a visit. It is an amazing place in the very center of Pridnestrovie / Transnistria.
Here you can visit an ichthyological reserve with fish listed in the Red Book and a reserve with rare species of birds and animals.
During the lavender bloom in June-July, the annual Lavender Festival takes place in Goian.
The program includes art galleries, exhibitions of arts and crafts, and masterclasses on making lavender decorations.
You can buy lavender oil and fragrant sachets at the lavender pharmacy and try lavender delicacies at the deli.
If you have always dreamed of getting to a lavender field, but have not yet reached France, Pridnestrovie / Transnistria can be an interesting alternative.
The entrance to the lavender field is 50 rubles per person.
The ticket includes the rental of props for a photoshoot - white bicycles, stairs, chairs, baskets, dishes - and a bouquet of lavender as a souvenir.
HAVE A NICE TIME IN PRIDNESTROVIE!
Sasha & The Alternative Travel Guide