Not many people have heard about Moldova, partly because not very many moldovans have achieved international prizes and another reason is probably the fact that is is rather small for a country. It has a total area of 34.000 square km. In my essay, I do not plan to laud Moldova to the skies, telling you things that are not true and creating even bigger misconceptions than you already have about it. I am here to create a objective vision, in my point of view, of the country I live in for 16 years.
Moldova has been through a lot of steps during its’ whole history. From the ancient times, the territory that is now called Moldova, was populated by Dacian tribes. Because of it’s location on a route between Asia and Europe, it was invaded many times in late antiquity by different tribes, the most important to mention were the Crimean Tatarsand and, since the 15th century, the Turks. In 1538 this territory became a tributary to the Ottoman Empire. Later on, in 1812, Moldova was ceded to the Russian Empire, in accordance with the Treaty of Bucharest from that year. The process of russification, which is even nowadays a problem, began in that period. I say that it’s a problem, because even nowadays, people from Romania (our neighbors) still think that we speak Russian and we are a part of Russia. The Moldovan proportion of population decreased from 86% (1816) to 52% (1905). Another stage in the Moldovan history is it’s position and views during the first world war. In 1918 it proclaimed independence from Russia and some months later, it was taken the decision to unite Bessarabia (as the territory of Moldova was called in that period) with the Kingdom of Romania. In august 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (altogether with its secret additional protocol) was signed; the consequences of this were that Moldova was recognized as Soviet sphere of influence, and two years later it entered the USSR as Moldavian ASSR. In 1941, Romania seized the territory of Bessarabia, but it didn’t last for a long time, because in 1944 the Soviet Empire re-established the Moldavian SSR. After Siberian deportations, after a period of starvation, after all these hard times, Moldova has finally proclaimed its independence and has finally passed to the Latin script (before, it was used the cyrilic one). Nowadays, Moldova tries to manage her relations with other states, is involved in different organizations and is trying to achieve as great performances as possible. Even though it all sounds great, the situation in Moldova isn’t that good. We have a lot of resources, still we don’t harness them and have a very very low economy because of this. We don’t promote our products on the international mart, it leads to the fact that we are not known all over the world and people think of us as a mystic tribe, where people don’t have electricity, internet, shops, etc.
First of all, Moldova has administrative divisions. (Yes, exactly like Germany, USA and other countries. See, we’re not a tribe.) It is divided into 32 districts, 3 municipalities and 2 autonomous regions; has 66 cities and 916 communes. It also has 700 villages, which are too small for having their own administration and are part of either cities or communes. All in all, there is a total of 1681 localities in Moldova and from these only two are inhabited. There is a conception according to which people are very hospitable and women are truly beautiful. About the first one, I would say that it’s true only when you speak about the people from villages. They live away from the hectic life of the city, they are calm, in harmony with themselves and everyone knows that when someone feels like this, he wants to help the rest of people. Usually when youngsters travel through the country, people from villages are happy to give them a place to spend the night and food. Of course, it depends from case to case, but people are mostly very hospitable. About the second one, it’s not me to judge. Still, the women have different traits, because in Moldova there are people of different origins, which makes some of women look more specific. (Although, I think that this happens in every country and it’s not something special for Moldova). Another conception about Moldova is the fact that we have damaged roads or don’t even have them at all. It is partially true. In villages, we don’t have asphalted roads. We only have them in the capital (Chisinau), in some big cities all over the country and we have roads that connect these big cities. In rest, it is simple, natural village road, with clay, stones and other stuff like this. Still, cars, bicycles and other vehicles can circulate. There are only a few points which are totally isolated and you can get there only by feet. I admit Moldova is a small country, yet it has a lot of beautiful places to visit. The most known ones are the Orheiul Vechi village (known for its’ beautiful landscapes), the Soroca fortress and the Capriana monastery, because we have such a tradition that once per semester or once per school year, students go to an excursion and it happens so that usually these are the most visited places during excursions .
The Tipova monastery is also a beautiful place. I can’t explain exactly how it looks, you simply have to be there, to feel the atmosphere and enjoy the beauty. The only thing I have to mention, in order not to give you false information, is the fact that in Moldova people don’t have such a evaluated aestetic sense, they mix ancient buildings with plastic windows and create a kind of “new past”. It does look terrible, but as long as you enjoy the fresh air, far away from the noise of the cities, you may almost ignore this unaesthetic mix.
Mateuti is another nice place from Moldova. I would like to mention about it the fact that ie there is a railway tunnel. It is impressive, because the Moldovan railway isn’t quite developed, it has a length of only 1232 km, most of our trains are sovietic and have a very small speed. In my opinion, walking by train (in Moldova) has a special charm. It makes you stop, think and enjoy the beauty of everyday life. Another beautiful place to visit is Horodiste. For those who have heard about Ion Druta, Horodiste is the home of this writer. There is a wood church, which looks very nice and brings us the shadow of the past.
I have previously mentioned Soroca, for its’ fortress. It is true, there is one, well, actually the ruins from what it once was, but it is still nice to visit. Also, in Soroca there is a monument called “The Candle of Gratitude”. It symbolizes the revival of Moldovan culture and it is erected over the river Nistru. To get to it, you have to climb a number of stairs and when you get finally to it, you can feel exactly like you’ve climbed the stairway to Heaven.
On the territory of Moldova there are a lot of places to visit. Some of them are still unknown to the general public, but if you travel by bike or by feet, you can get into lots of places and you can feel like a discoverer. I live in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova and now I will present you some nice places to visit in Chisinau or in its’ neigborhood. I like to take long walks and there are some parks that are perfect for me. For example, there is one, called Mill Valley. There is a wonderful lake, you can go jogging in the morning, or you can take long walks in the evening, it is nice to visit any time of the day. This park is quite big, it looks a little bit like a forest and even though you are conscient that you are home, for some seconds you can feel lost in it, which feels very nice. In this park there is also a place, called Green Theatre. It is an open-air scene, with green seats around and during summertime there are a lot of concerts, especially for youngsters. For me it’s a beautiful place and if you ever visit Chisinau, I would be glad to take you to Mill Valley. It can’t be compared to Central Park (New York), but it still has its’ own beauty.
For those of you who like to try different types of wine, Milestii Mici winery would be the perfect choice. It is located 20 km south of Chisinau and it is the largest cellar complex in the world. From its 250 km, only 120 are now used, but still, in 2007 it was noted in the Guiness World Records, as having the largest wine collection in the world.
We have the biggest winery and altogether with this, here comes another conception about Moldova, that people who live here are alcoholics. I don’t want to speak bad about my country, but it is partially true. We are through the first positions in different tops about alcohol consumption per capita. We are not a country of alcoholics, but still yes, we do consume a lot of alcohol, especially in villages, because people have their own wine and don’t have to buy it. If you want to see how most people actually live in Moldova, you should visit Piata Centrala. It is an outdoor market, where there is a lot of stuff : there are people from villages who come and sell their vegetables, there are some cheap cafés, there are markets of clothes, etc. It is located in Chisinau and almost everyone, if you ask on the street, knows how to get there.
Another nice place to visit in case you appreciate art, is the National Theatre Mihai Eminescu. It is located on the main street from Chisinau, called Stefan cel Mare. It has a nice collection of plays and its’ architecture is very nice, creating an atmosphere of calmness and making you feel lost somewhere in the past centuries. Also, there is a terrace in the back of the theatre, where you can enjoy a drink or listen to good music. Besides this, there is an open air market with souvenirs near the theatre. You can buy hand-made stuff, different bracelets or even paintings there.
For those of you who like Soviet Union, Tiraspol would be the perfect place to visit. It is located in Transnistria and is is the second largest city in Moldova. It looks like the time has stopped and the unraveling of USSR didn’t exist. A lot of foreigners come to Moldova specially to visit Tiraspol.
All in all, there are a lot of interesting places to visit in Moldova, you simply have to be patient and to discover them. There is a phrase in Romanian, that says that the man sanctifies the place. It means that a place is characterized by the people who live there. As I previously said, Moldovans are quite hospitable people, an article from internet says that we are even the most hospitable, after Caucasians. Besides this, Moldovans do have some international achievements. Not so many, first of all because our population is quite small, but still… in my opinion, these achievements are important for the country. We have a good Olympic group, who represents our contry in different locations. We have bronze and even silver medals in physics, Romanian language, chemistry, mathematics and biology. It is a little sad that all those people who have such achievements, leave our country for better places to study at universities, but it is still very good that we have such persons. It means that our teachers have a modern way of teaching and it means that we are not lost. As long as there is knowledge, we will be able to manage to a bright future. Our country is full of different cultures, people, of different places with different meanings and so on. You only have to be patient, to listen, to discover, to travel and you will be able to unlock all of its’ secrets. The best way to unlock these secrets is not to read articles or encyclopedias, the best way is to travel, from west to east, from north to south, to interact with people, to taste our food and to feel our roads under your feet. We are waiting you to visit Moldova!