By Ana Mihailov
Ana Mihailov is a citizen of the Republic of Moldova and lives in Chisinau.
Chisinau is the capital of the Republic of Moldova and the largest city in the country. The Republic of Moldova is country that can be described as culturally ‘torn’ between Europe and Russia- a fact reflected by the political circumstances this small country. The communist party ruled the country until 2009, and they are still quite powerful. The official languages spoken there are Romanian and Russian.
Officially, approx. 4.3 million people live in the Republic of Moldova. For history enthusiasts, Chisinau offers a step back in time to the bygone days of the Soviet Union with its grid street system and typical Soviet architecture. If you live in Bucharest want to explore another country with close historical ties to Romania, then a trip to Chisinau is definitely one of the most interesting can make.
Hint! As border procedures are taken seriously when travelling there by car, make sure you take your passport along and check their Visa-policy regarding your nationality! There is a night train leaving every 2nd night from Bucharest to Chisinau; a 1st class ticket is approx. EUR 20 and the trip is amazing.
A visit to the city of Chisinau should definitely start by visiting the statue of Stefan cel Mare, a national hero. It is situated at the entrance of the park of the same name and represents the heart of downtown, as well as the main meeting point for locals.
Exiting the park towards the Stefan cel Mare Boulevard and walking to the left, you arrive at the Opera and Ballet Theater, built during the Soviet era.
From this point one can see the imposing Presidential Palace, which overlooks another important administrative building –the Parliament. Today, both buildings are under repair after having been devastated during the events of April 2009.
Walking along the Stefan cel Mare Boulevard back to the statue of Stefan cel Mare and passing it by, you get to the Grand National Meeting Square (Piata Marii Adunari Nationale), the place where before the ‘90s, military parades and speeches from Communist leaders were organized.
The square accommodates the large House of Government of Moldova (Casa Guvernului), which during the Soviet era served as the seat of the Communist Party of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Just opposite the House of Government is the Triumphal Arch (Arcul de Triumf), built in 1840 by the architect I. Zauschevici in commemoration of the victory of the Tsar troops against the Turks.
Behind the Arch arises the Orthodox cathedral “Christ Birth” (Catedrala „Nasterea Domnului”) built in the classical Russian style in 1836. The cathedral is comprises a central building and a separate bell tower.
The original bell tower was destroyed a few times in various military conflicts; therefore the actual bell tower is the result of the reconstruction finished in 1997.
The cathedral is surrounded by another beautiful park, on one side of which, along the Banulescu-Bodoni Street, the main flower open market of the city is situated. Flower booths are lined one after the other and stretch for more than 200 meters.
Continuing the walk along the House of Government, the first building to mention is the Chisinau City Hall (Primaria Chisinaului), built in 1902 by the architects M. Elladi and A. Bernardazzi in the Gothic Venetian style.
Close to the City Hall, on Stefan cel Mare Boulevard, you can see the Central Post Office (Posta centrala), the Organ Hall (Sala cu orga) and the “Mihai Eminescu” National Theater. Just in the area there is a small and attractive park with an open handicraft market which is the best place to buy souvenirs and presents.
Continuing the walk on the boulevard up to the Armeana Street or a little further on the Tighina Street you can reach the Central Open Food Market of the city.
Walking back to the statue of Stefan cel Mare and then up on the Banulescu Bodoni Street until the 31st of August Street, you get to the National Museum of History of Moldova which holds around 300,000 artifacts of Moldovan history and culture.
Phone: +373 22 382333.
This wine factory and cellar complex is situated 20 km south of Chisinau near a village of the same name. Its underground wine city in limestone stretches for 250 km, of which 120 km are currently in use. Milestii Mici cellar complex is recognized to be the largest in the world. The tunnel streets, “Cabernet”, “Chardonnay”, “Feteasca”, and “Sauvignon” etc. form a transportation web in the wine city. The “Golden Collection” of Milestii Mici holds nearly two million bottles. Bookings should be made 3-4 days in advance on the phone.
Phone: +373 22 44 12 04
The wine cellar of Cricova is the second largest wine cellar in Moldova, after Milestii Mici and is also about 20 km distance from Chisinau. It boasts a mere 120 kilometers of labyrinthine roadways used for wine storage, named by the wines they store.
The archaeological complex of Orheiul Vechi (Old Orhei) is an open-air museum situated between the villages Trebujeni and Butuceni 60 km northeast of Chisinau. It is a system of historical monuments and natural landscapes. Its fantastic views and ancient atmosphere impress everyone. The easiest way to reach it is by car, as public transport is poorly organized.
Roughly 65 kilometers southeast of Chisinau, in Moldova’s break-away Transnistria Region. The city of Tiraspol is considered to be a living museum of Soviet culture. It can be reached both by public transport and by car.
International Access Code +373 (country code) + 22 (area code) + telephone number (six digit number). To call for an ambulance, dial 903!
Most of the Felicia pharmacies (farmacie) are open 24 hours a day and can be found in every district of the city.
Address: 1, Toma Ciorba St.
Phone: +373 22 25 08 17
Address: 83, Stefan Cel Mare (near the City Hall
Phone: +373 22 32 59 81
Information touch-kiosk network covering Moldova and Romania touristic destinations, best deals, trip advises, free post e-cards, places to see, and special tours.
Visitors to Chisinau have a number of options for getting around the city and the rest of the country including by car, bus, and taxi. A personal vehicle is the most convenient means of transportation available in Chisinau as it allows the greatest freedom and flexibility in travel. Certain rental agencies will hire drivers along with the vehicles.
Address: 57/1, Banulescu Bodoni, off. 211
Phone: +373 22 92 20 60
There is a good public transportation network in Chisinau that consists of buses, trolley buses, and minibuses whose standard operating hours are from 6am to midnight (see www.terra.md/ro/timetable for the schedule). Taxis are a good way of getting around the immediate city; the best way to get a taxi is to call for a pick-up. Taxis can be reached by dialing any of the following numbers: 1400, 1405, 1406, 1407 or 1408. Most hotels, restaurants, and bars will be happy to make this call for you.
Address: 67, Bucuresti St.
Phone: +373 22 22 76 92
La Taifas restaurant provides an insight about Moldovan cuisine and national customs.
Address: 115, 31 August St.
Phone: +373 22 24 01 27
This elegant French restaurant is situated in the very center of the town in the National Museum of Arts building, and is famous for its unique atmosphere. The aroma of real freshly ground coffee beans harmonizing with restored ancient photos create an unusually cozy and comfortable atmosphere.
Address: 78 , 31 August St.
Phone: +373 22 21 13 17
Symposium is one of Chisinau’s top restaurants, striving to bring its customers fresh and creative cuisine, along with fine service in a warm, classic atmosphere. It is located in historic downtown, across the National Museum and behind the Government Building. Symposium is consistently recognized by local newspapers and tourist guides as one of the city’s best restaurants.
Address: 17/1, Grigore Vieru Blvd.
Phone: +373 22 24 32 32
This is the place to find a big variety of specialty coffees, drinks and good music.
Address: 117/2, 31 and August St.
Phone: +373 22 24 14 28
This is a small, cozy two-floor café downtown. It is the best place in Chisinau to treat yourself to traditional French pastry and confectionery.
Address: 44, Albisoara St.
This is a café where people come primarily for the sake of good music and relaxed communication. In the evening you can see local and foreign jazz or blues bands on stage.
Going out in Chisinau is a great time and we highly recommend it!
Address: 83, Alexandru cel Bun St.
Phone: +373 22 24 11 47
Combining pub traditions with a rich restaurant menu, this place is of the British tradition where British dishes are given special attention.
Address: 30, Puskin St.
Phone: +373 22 22 83 50
The pub offers European food in a very cozy atmosphere where travelers can drink a glass of good beer and listen to Latin music.
Address: 66, Bucuresti St.
Phone: +373 69 04 04 04
The club is situated downtown and has a very convenient location. It is worth noting that it is a true disco club, comprising all the energy and glamour of the multi-faceted phenomenon called disco.
Address: 26, Lapusneanu St.
Phone: +373 22 24 21 29
For over 8 years it has provided a quiet and comfortable environment, truly expanding the limits of hospitality. Due to the convenient location in the center of the city, major business offices and attractions can be reached within minutes. Prices from EUR 100-120.
Address: 77, Mitropolit Varlaam St.
Phone: +373 22 21 02 10
This four-star hotel, located in the center of the city is close to just about everything. The rooms are big enough and prices vary from EUR 180-230.
Address: 140/1, Columna St.
Phone: +373 22 29 25 74
Elat Hotel is situated in the business center of Chisinau, near the Presidential and Parliament buildings, Central Park and Theatre of Opera and Ballet. Prices from EUR 70-90.
Apartments are a good alternative to hotels in Chisinau. Nice apartments centrally located can be found for relatively cheap prices. Seewww.rental.md/apartments/ to select and book.
Address: 85, Stefan Cel Mare St.
By the National Theatre on Stefan Cel Mare there is a handicraft market located in a small and attractive park. It is open daily, from 10:00 until around 17:00.