My dear travelers, I hope you are well and ready for a new season of adventures on the Mr.M blog! This autumn I had the opportunity to visit an unusual small country with a big heart in Eastern Europe – the Republic of Moldova. I am very proud of the fact that I am the first blogger in the world who was invited to visit and feel the Moldovan hospitality and to check some facts that I read in numerous magazines that this small country is the new big destination for lovers of good wines and food in the Eastern Europe.

At the very beginning of this post, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Invest Moldova Agency and the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Moldova for the kind invitation and the incredible experience to get to know the Moldovan culture and customs better.

What do we know about Moldova? The Republic of Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It borders Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east and south. The capital and also the largest city of the Republic of Moldova is Chisinau. Most of the Moldavian territory was part of the Principality of Moldavia from the 14th century until 1812, when the Ottoman Empire ceded it to the Russian Empire, to which Moldavia was a vassal state and became recognized as Bessarabia.

Southern Bessarabia was returned to Moldavia in 1856, which united with Wallachia three years later to form Romania, but Russian rule was restored over the entire region in 1878. During the Russian Revolution in 1917, Bessarabia briefly became an autonomous state within the Russian Federation. During February 1918, the Moldavian Democratic Republic declared independence and then integrated into Romania later that year after a vote in its assembly. The decision was contested by Soviet Russia, which in 1924 established, within the Ukrainian SSR, the so-called Moldavian Autonomous Republic (MASSR) on the territories partially inhabited by Moldavia east of Bessarabia.

Today, Moldova is a parliamentary republic with a president as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. It is a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the Trio of Associations . This year, Moldova became an official candidate for membership in the European Union.

How did Moldova get its name? The name Moldavia is derived from the river Moldavia, whose valley served as a political center at the time of the founding of the Principality of Moldavia in 1359. The origin of the river’s name remains unclear to this day. According to the legend transmitted by Moldavian chroniclers Dimitrije Kantemir and Grigore Ureča, Prince Dragoš named the river after hunting aurochs: after the chase, the prince’s exhausted hound Molda drowned in the river. The name of the dog, given to the river, spread to the Principality and then to the Republic of Moldova.

The cultural tradition of Moldova was primarily influenced by the Romanian origin of its majority population, whose roots go back to the second century AD, the period of Roman colonization in Dacia. Due to its unusual geographical location at the crossroads of Latin, Slavic and other cultures, Moldova has enriched its own culture by adopting and maintaining the traditions of neighboring regions and other influential powerful states. The largest ethnic group, which by the 14th century had become widely identified as the “Moldavian” league, played a significant role in shaping classical Romanian culture. Moldavian culture was also influenced by Byzantine culture, the neighboring Hungarian and Slavic populations, and later the Ottoman Turks. The strong Western European influence in Moldovan literature and art experienced a golden revival in the 19th century. During the period 1812-1917. and 1944-1989. , Moldovans were under the influence of Russian and Soviet administrative control, as well as immigration of ethnic Russians.

The cultural heritage of Moldavia was marked by numerous churches and monasteries built by the Moldavian ruler Stefan the Great in the 15th century, the works of later Renaissance metropolitans Varlaam and Dosoftei, as well as the works of scientists such as Grigore Ureche, Miron Kostin, Nikolae Milescu. In the 19th century, Moldavians from the territory of the medieval Principality of Moldavia, divided into Bessarabia, Bukovina and Western Moldavia (after 1859, Romania), made a significant contribution to the formation of modern Romanian culture. Among them there were many Bessarabians, such as Alexander Donica, Alexander Heide, Bogdan Petricic Hasde, Konstantin Stamati, Konstantin Stamati-Chiurea, Kostache Negruci, Alek Rousseau, Konstantin Stere.

Mihai Eminescu, a late romantic poet, and Ion Creanga, a writer, are the most influential artists in the Romanian language, considered national writers in both Romania and Moldova.

We come to the interesting part that interests us all – the food! Moldovan cuisine is specific and the style of cooking is a matter of tradition that is extremely important for Moldovans. It consists mainly of ingredients such as various types of meat, potatoes, cabbage and various grains. The local cuisine is very similar to Romanian, and also draws inspiration and elements from other cuisines in the region, including Greek, Polish, Ukrainian and Russian, with a strong influence from Ottoman cuisine.

Due to its excellent geographical position, the fertile soil of Moldova provides an abundance of grapes, fruits, vegetables, cereals, meat and dairy products, all of which have found their application in the national cuisine. The fertile black soil combined with the use of traditional agricultural methods allows the cultivation of a wide range of food in Moldova. Moldovan cuisine is rich and with good food you can always find a suitable wine!

The most famous Moldovan dish is mamaliga (porridge or porridge made from corn flour). This is a polenta-like staple on the Moldovan table, served as a side dish to stews and meat dishes or garnished with fresh cheese, sour cream or pork rind. Regional delicacies include branza (brine cheese) and friptura (lamb or goat stew). Do not forget that every good Moldovan dish must be accompanied by a suitable wine because it is a matter of tradition and way of life that Moldovans have cherished for centuries!

Traditional for Moldovan cuisine are dishes that combine a variety of vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cabbage, beans, onions, garlic and leeks. Vegetables are used in salads and sauces, and are baked, steamed, pickled (muraturi), salted or marinated.

Different types of borscht (stew) include a wide range of soups with a characteristic sour taste. These can be meat and vegetable soups, or fish soups, all of which are pickled with borscht (traditionally made from bran) or lemon juice. Chicken soup with meat, known as zeama, is very popular.

Meat products occupy a special place in traditional Moldovan cuisine, especially as an appetizer or main course. Roasted and roasted pork, beef meatballs and steamed lamb are common. Meat and fish are often marinated and then grilled. Traditional holiday dishes include stuffed cabbage with minced meat, pilaf (rice dish), pork jelly, noodles, chicken and many others.

In certain areas, the cuisine of different ethnic minorities prevails. In the eastern regions, Ukrainians eat borscht, while in the south, Bessarabian Bulgarians serve traditional mange (chicken with sauce), while Gagauz prepare shorpa, a very spicy mutton soup. Pelmeni (dumplings filled with meat) are popular in Russian communities. The various dishes served at the New Year’s table include mostly Russian-influenced dishes such as shuba and salade de boeuf.

Other very popular dishes include a variety of pierogi called coltunasi, filled with fresh white cheese (coltunasi cu brinza), meat (coltunasi cu carne) or cherries.

Soft drinks include stewed fruit compote and fruit juice. Popular alcoholic beverages are divin (Moldavian brandy), beer and, of course, the famous Moldovan wine. European grapes are used in wine production. Popular grapes include Sauvignon, Cabernet and Muscat. The main domestic Moldovan varieties include Feteasca, Rara neagra and Busuioaca alba.

Sparkling wine has a special place in Moldovan cuisine. The country produces large quantities of classic white and rosé sparkling wines, as well as red sparkling wines that were originally introduced in Moldova. The most famous sparkling wines are those produced in the Krikova winery. Famous brands of Moldovan sparkling wines are Negru de Purcari, Moldova, Chisinau, Cricova, Muscat spumant, National, Nisporeni, etc. They are made from a wide range of European grape varieties, including Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Menu, Sauvignon, Aligot, Traminac Rosé, Muscat Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. The local variety Feteasca Alba, which is also used in sparkling wines, has been cultivated in Moldavia since the time of ancient Dacia.

During my visit to Moldova, I visited 3 of the most famous wineries: Cricova, Castel Mimi and Chateau Vartely, about which I will write more in the next post and I am sure you will enjoy the unique content!

After I introduced you to the history of Moldova and introduced you to the Moldovan culture, heritage, as well as their cuisine, it’s time to write something about the capital of this unusual small country with a big heart that forms the heart of Eastern Europe – Chisinau!

Chisinau is the main industrial and commercial center of Moldova, and it is located in the very heart of the country, on the Bach River, a tributary of the Dniester. According to some recent data, over 600,000 inhabitants live in the city itself, while the municipality of Chisinau, which includes the city itself and other nearby communities, has almost 800,000 inhabitants. Chisinau is the most economically prosperous center in Moldova and the largest traffic hub. Almost a third of the population of Moldova lives in the metro area, which is really impressive!

How did the capital of Moldova get its name? The origin of the city’s name is still unclear. There are numerous legends and theories that indicate that the name could come from the archaic Romanian words chisla (meaning “spring”, “source of water”) and noua (“new”), because it was built around a small spring, at the corner of Pushkin and Albisvara streets that form the heart of today’s Chisinau!

There is one official version of history, formulated by Stefan Čobanu, a Romanian historian and academic, who believes that the name was formed in the same way as the name of Chișinău (alternatively spelled: Chişinău) in western Romania, near the border with Hungary. Her Hungarian name is Kisjeno, which is where her Romanian name comes from. Kisjeno comes from kis “small” and Jeno, one of the seven Hungarian tribes that entered the Carpathian Basin in 896. At least 24 other settlements are named after the Jeno tribe.

Chisinau is known as Kishinev in Russian, while Moldova’s Russian-language media call it Chisinau. It was also written as Chisineu in the Romanian language before the 20th century and as Chisineu in the Moldavian Cyrillic script. Historically, the city’s English-language name, Chisinau, was based on a modified Russian because it entered the English language via Russian when Chisinau was part of the Russian Empire.

How was Chisinau created? Founded in 1436 as a monastery village, the town was part of the Principality of Moldavia, which became a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire from the 16th century, but still retained its autonomy. At the beginning of the 19th century, Chisinau was a small town with 7,000 inhabitants.

Historically speaking, Chisinau was home to fourteen factories in 1919. Chisinau is the financial and business capital of Moldova. Chisinau has the largest and most developed mass media sector in Moldova and is home to several affiliated companies, from leading television networks and radio stations to major newspapers. All national and international banks have their headquarters in Chisinau. Notable locations around Chisinau include the Patria cinema, new malls Malldova, Megapolis Mall and the most famous shops. While many locals continue to shop at the bazaars, many upper-class residents and tourists shop at retail outlets in Maldova as well.

Elat, an older shopping center in the Botanica district, and Sun City, in the center, are more popular with locals. There are several amusement parks in the city. One from the Soviet era is located in the Botanica district, along the three lakes of the large park, which extends to the outskirts of the city center. The second, modern park Aventura, is located further from the center.

The urban plan of Chisinau was developed in the 19th century. As far back as 1836, the construction of the Chisinau Cathedral and its bell tower was completed. The bell tower was demolished during the Soviet era and was rebuilt in 1997. Chisinau also displays a huge number of Orthodox churches and 19th-century buildings throughout the city, such as the Ćuflea Monastery or the Church of the Transfiguration. Most of the town is made of limestone quarried from Krikova, leaving the famous wine cellar there.

Many buildings of modern architectural style were built in the city after 1991. There are many office and retail complexes that are modern, renovated or newly built, including Kentford, SkyTower and the headquarters of Union Fenos. However, old clusters of Soviet-style apartment blocks are still an extensive feature of the cityscape.

There are several important museums in Chisinau. The three national museums are the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History, the National Museum of Art and the National Archaeological and Historical Museum. Chisinau, like all of Moldova, still shows significant signs of ethnic culture. Signs reading “Patria Mea” (My Homeland) can be found all over the capital. Although few people still wear traditional Moldovan clothing, large public events often attract people to wear national costumes.

Moldova’s National Wine Day and Wine Festival are held every year on the first weekend of October in Chisinau. The events celebrate the fall harvest and recognize the country’s long history of winemaking, dating back some 500 years. It is the tradition and culture of this country and it is the strong roots that make this country original and beautiful!

During my first day in Chisinau, I had the opportunity to attend a big fashion event UNZIP which is important both for famous Moldovan fashion designers and for some new young rising fashion designers who are considered to become important names in the fashion world. My first impression when I entered the magnificent building where the shows were held was incredible because you can see how much the Moldovans actually take care of all the details, so I had the impression that I was at some gala event as part of the Milan fashion week that I attended, so I have only words of praise for the organization of this wonderful event.

My first day in Chisinau was exciting and full of surprises. I enjoyed numerous Moldovan specialties and rode local trolleybuses, since the people from the organization thought that I had no idea what it’s like to be a tourist in a city where you can feel the positive energy while cruising through the city on one of the numerous trolleybus lines…

I would like to use this unique opportunity to thank the team of the Invest Moldova Agency of the Republic of Moldova for the sincere and kind invitation to visit their country and to feel the Moldovan hospitality and at least for a short glimpse into the centuries-old culture and traditions of an unusual and beautiful country in Eastern Europe. This was an unusual and beautiful trip where I recorded numerous photos, beautiful memories and brought home the most beautiful Moldovan wines and cheeses. Travel is the best form of informal education, where a person gets to know the world and new cultures and thus has the opportunity to connect with the world and expand his horizons and cultural limits. This time Invest Moldova Agency with its partners made my trip exceptional and I am glad that I was the first blogger in the world to visit their country and I sincerely hope that in the near future there will be more bloggers, influencers and media persons who will show Moldova and prove that it is a beautiful small country with a big heart that is always ready to welcome everyone and find yourself!

Of course, my visit to Moldova was exceptional because I had the opportunity to stay in one of the best hotels in the city – BERD’S Chisinau MGallery Hotel Collection, which is the first and only designer hotel in Moldova. It is located in the heart of the social and cultural life of Chisinau and it was very easy and simple to move around the city, which is the most important thing for any traveler, right?

The hotel offers 33 rooms and apartments full of local tradition combined with modern, contemporary architecture and aesthetics with top comfort. The Italian restaurant MEZZO presents a new fresh look at Italian tradition, delicious cuisine and an elegant interior that remains true to the spirit of minimalism. BERD’S Chisinau MGallery promises an authentic journey into Moldovan culture.

I would like to thank the friendly and professional staff who made my stay unforgettable and it was a great pleasure to be their dear guest in the special Signature suite, which represents a true and deep understanding of luxury and design. This elegant two-bedroom apartment with a spacious living room is equipped with soft leather furniture, an amazing bedroom with a leather desk, an open bathroom with a jacuzzi and a shower. The interior is decorated with hand-woven carpets originating from Tibet and conceptualized by Lucca Scacchetti to convey traditional local motifs. The unique collection of ceramics by the famous Moldavian sculptor – Yuri Platon also contributes to the experience.

My dear travelers, we have reached the end of this first special travelogue in the autumn season about Moldova where we had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the capital of this small unusual country with a big heart – Chisinau. Today’s travelogue would not be possible without the selfless help of the Invest Moldova Agency and the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Moldova in cooperation with local partners who allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of Moldovan culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey to you my impressions of this unusual experience from Moldova.

I would like to once again give special thanks to the staff of BERD’S Chisinau MGallery Hotel for their warm welcome and for hosting me in their hotel. The stay in their hotel was exceptional, where I felt the warmth of my own home!

Time always flies when a person is having a good time! A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way during this global health crisis of COVID-19.

I am honored to have the opportunity to cooperate with companies that are the very top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank them for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual country in Eastern Europe in a completely different way.

How did you like my story about Chisinau and Moldovan culture? Have you had the chance to visit the magical Republic of Moldova so far?

If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT ME page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!

With Love from Chisinau,

Mr.M

In the next post, we will go together on the wine roads of Moldova and visit some of the most Moldovan famous wineries…

This post is sponsored by the Invest Moldova Agency and the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Moldova as well as other local partners. This post is my personal and honest review of the destination experience.

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Maurizio
Maurizio
3 months ago

I heard that Moldova as a country exists, but I thought it was closed to tourists… Since you are the first travel blogger who ever went to Moldova, maybe now the country will become popular because it looks lovely and interesting. It reminds me of a little Saint Petersburg!

Sebastian
Sebastian
3 months ago

I always admire how you discover the world and how you present new destinations and open the world to people! I was just now looking at the plane tickets to Chisinau, I subscribed to be notified when there will be some discount deals because the tickets are really expensive! Do you need a visa to enter Moldova? What are the prices of food, transport and tickets to attractions? Thank you for time!

Oliver
Oliver
3 months ago

I am looking forward to your next posts from Moldova, and I am especially happy that you will write about wine roads! I love wine and I always wanted to go on a thematic trip where I would visit several wineries to enjoy the beauty of wine!

Stefanie
Stefanie
3 months ago

Lieber Marko, ich mag deinen neuen Beitrag! Dies ist ein interessanter Reisebericht, da ich nicht viel über die Republik Moldau wusste, außer dass ich weiß, dass sie regelmäßig am Eurovision-Musikwettbewerb teilnimmt. Chisinau sieht aus wie eine wunderschöne Stadt und erinnert stark an russische Architektur! FG Stefanie