Transnistria is a breakaway state in the eastern part of Moldova; it declared itself independent back in 1990.
And it´s one of the five unrecognised self-declared countries in Europe together with Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Kosovo (yes, I know)
But Transnistria has not been recognised by any United Nations member but maintains its functional autonomy with military and other support from Russia.
If planning a trip to Moldova, be sure to read this guide before going.
As a traveller, you can enter Transnistria very quickly; you only need to fill out a registration card when you arrive at the border, you will need to get stamped into the area, and stamped out when leaving the area.
But make sure to get two stamps on your registration card when arriving, to prevent problems like paying a small bribe upon leaving Transnistria.
You will have to bring your passport!
Bribery seems to be the national sport in Transnistria.
VISITING THE SOVIET TIME-CAPSULE OF TRANSNISTRIA.
Transnistria is an ex-Soviet unrecognised country in Eastern Europe, internationally
recognised as part of Moldova. To be more precise, the country is a small strip of land
on the Dniester River – between Moldova and Ukraine.
The government of Moldova in Chisinau has had absolutely no control over the
unrecognised country since the fall of the Soviet Union – where the state has
remained trapped in time. Today, there are soldiers along the border, ensuring
that the status quo remains unchanged.
Although unrecognised by the international community and the United Nations, the country is home to its own government, military, currency (Transnistrian Ruble),
passport, police force, and the only flag to still depict a ‘hammer and sickle.’
In line with its image as the last remnant of the Soviet Union, Transnistria still uses
Various Soviet state symbols and imagery.
This is seen through the extensive collections of
Vladimir Lenin statues still present in public spaces, the ‘hammer and sickle’ on the
country’s flag and the Soviet-style parades and events that take place in its capital,
Tiraspol, throughout the year.
In addition, there are endless abandoned Soviet factories, buildings and other structures
scattered throughout the country.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN TRANSNISTRIA.
Most visitors here are only taking a day trip from Moldova, but there´s enough here to keep you busy for at least a few days.
Transnistria is widely considered the last remnant of the Soviet Union, where travellers
can get an authentic glimpse into what life was like before the fall of this ex-superpower.
Look For Lenin Statues.
Transnistria is home to an extensive collection of authentic statues of Vladimir Lenin that have remained since the time of the Soviet Union.
There seems to be at least one Lenin statue in every town and village all over the state, and for some reason, every city likes to paint their Lenin statue in different colours, you got Blue Lening, a Gold Lenin, and of course a red Lenin and Lening with a hat.
Taste the local Kvint cognac and take a tour of Kvint Cognac distillery.
Take a tour of the factory that made the Soviet Union’s most prestigious
cognac. Yes, it is still in operation and travellers can taste test and
purchase cognac. I’m not the biggest Cognac fan, but this one is good.
Abandoned Factories & Warehouses.
During the Soviet Union, Transnistria was home to a fair amount of Soviet
industry. Today, many of them are left abandoned for curious travellers to
come and check out – at their own risk.
Check out the parliament of a country that doesn’t exist! They do actually have a democratic election here.
The country that doesn’t exist also has a currency that doesn’t exist! Take
a closer look into this unrecognised currency – the Transnistrian Ruble.
Bender/Bendery is the second largest town in Transnistria, is located west of the bank of the Dniestr River, the city is rarely visited by tourist which are only taking a day trip here. Still, the town has its own charm, and the fortress is well worth a visit. The fortress is a well-preserved 16th-century Ottoman fortress. If you are Scandinavian history nerd so are the monument for the Swedish king Charles XII, that was taken prisoner here by Ottoman forces in 1713.
Bender Fortress from the 16th century.
This market is a great place to get an idea of local tastes and produce, here you can buy everything from locally made handcraft, homemade cheese, vine etc. Probably the best place in Traninistra to buy some locally made gifts for your friends and family back at home.
The Tank Monument of a Soviet tank in central Tiraspol. A T-34 tank from the Great Patriotic. But there´s not only in the capital Tiraspol that´s there´s a tank monument, but there are also few others around Transinistra to.
HOW TO GET TO TRANSNISTRIA.
Transnistria is relatively easy to get to. Although not recognised and without an active international airport, land border crossings can be crossed from both Moldova and the
In addition to taking a ‘Marshrutka’ (a mini-bus type vehicle used as a common means
of transportation in many ex-Soviet states) across from either Odesa or Chisinau, there
is a Chisinau – Odessa train line which has stops in none other than Transnistria!
There´s also now larger buses leaving from Chisinau daily.
The train line itself only recognises one border crossing even though in reality, it
HOW TO GET AROUND TRANSNISTRIA.
Transnistria is a very small country, and getting around is not too difficult. Travellers can
rely on ‘Marshrutkas’, the train or in the event of a private tour, private transportation to all the main sites in the country.
While in the capital Tiraspol, or in neighbouring Bender, it is not a problem to spend most of your time walking around the cities and seeing most of the main sites on foot.
Money in Transnistria.
Transnistria does have its own currency the Transnistrian rubles, which you will have to get when inside Transnistria, and you should get rid of the rest before leaving, since the currency is completely worthless outside the borders, even in Moldova will you have a problem exchanging it.
These days are also most ATM´S here connected to the VISA network, but be aware you will get a horrible exchange rate. You are much better of exchanging USD or Euro in one of the many money exchangers that are around here.
ACCOMMODATION IN TRANSNISTRIA.
Transnistria has many interesting options when it comes to accommodations.
Soviet-style lodging, to modern luxury rooms, there´s all kind of overnight options for
most types of travellers here.
The ‘Aist’ Hotel is probably the most famous of all Transnistrian hotels. This hotel, which
up until recently did not have a website, is the best example of a Soviet hotel, in a
country that is the best remaining example of the Soviet Union today.
The claim is that nothing has been changed in the hotel since before the fall of the
former superpower and travellers can experience exactly what it was like to stay in a
the hotel behind the iron curtain.
FOOD OPTIONS IN TRANSNISTRIA.
The population of Transnistria is made up of three primary ethnic groups; Russians,
Ukrainians and Moldovans (Romanians).
As such, the food of all these of these groups can be found around the country. With
that said, however, it is definitely not a secret that the country holds the closest ties to
Russia and therefore, Russian food, culture and products are by far the most prevalent.
Entering the supermarket or other shops, it is quite easy to notice that the majority of
foreign-produced products come from Russia – although products from Europe and
around the world can also be found. If you want something western, so are the spareribs at CRAFT in Tiraspol to die for.
WHAT TO DRINK IN TRANSNISTRIA.
During the Soviet Union, the regions of Moldova and Transnistria were famous for its
grape and wine production.
As such, the most famous and prized cognac of the Soviet Union was produced here, in
what is today Transnistria.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the KVINT cognac distillery has remained in production, producing the same Soviet spirit from inside the
unrecognised country of Transnistria – although with a ‘Made in Moldova’ sticker.
Travellers, can go on a tour of the factory and try prized cognac from a country that no
longer exists (Soviet Union), in a country that technically doesn’t exist (Transnistria).
There’s also a craft beer place in Trispol these days called CRAFT, with a few homemade beers from Transnistria, plus at least 30 imported craft beers.
If you want to book a tour to Transnistria, so are Political Holidays, a tour company offering tours to Unrecognized Countries and other unique destinations that aren’t even on the map! (www.politicalholidays.com)
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