Day 1: Chisinau. Arrive in Chisinau. After checking in to the hotel you will go on a walking tour of the capital, visiting key sites such as the Arc de Triomphe, the cathedral, and the Moldovan Parliament. This evening you will have dinner in a traditional Moldovan restaurant. Overnight Hotel Dacia or similar. Includes: (D).
Chisinau: Chisinau was founded back in the 15th century, as a small monastery village within the province of Moldavia. Falling first to the Ottoman and then the Russian Empire, the city grew over the years and played a major part in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877. Sadly it was bombed extensively during the Second World War and most of the older buildings were destroyed – the city today has been rebuilt on a typical Soviet grid system of streets. It contains one of the highest proportions of green spaces within any major European city, with many parks and lakes within its boundaries.
Day 2: Chisinau – Milesti Mici – Capriana Monastery
After visiting the National Museum in the morning, with its collection of archaeological treasures and old Bessarabian carpets, you head to the vast underground tunnels of Milesti Mici, an enormous complex and reputedly the largest wine collection in the world. After a spot of wine tasting you travel to the village of Capriana and visit its 14th century monastery. Overnight Hotel Dacia or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Milesti Mici: Milesti Mici consists of 200 km of tunnels dug under the earth, reaching depths of up to 85 m and stacked full of two million bottles of wine. Here you can walk along the cool, dark galleries and avenues where big barrels are placed and the bottles are laid down, dusty and covered with spider webs, waiting the day it will be opened for consumption.
Day 3: Tipova – Orheiul Vechi. Travel to the village of Tipova, home to Moldova’s largest cave monastery. Explore this site before heading to Orheiul Vechi, an impressive monastery complex set amidst dramatic scenery. Have a traditional Moldovan lunch in the village and then visit the monastery, its museum and the remains of an ancient fortress before returning to Chisinau for the night. Overnight Hotel Dacia or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Tipova: Tipova monastery is comprised of three different complexes. The first includes a temple with a Holy Cross festival and some cells; it is situated at a great distance and is hardly accessible. The foundation of this complex dates from the 11th to 15th centuries. The second monastic complex includes St Nicholas’ temple and was carved from the 16th to 18th centuries, while the third was established around the same time and encompasses 18 separate rooms joined by passages. According to an old legend, the Greek mythological poet Orpheus died at Tipova Monastery.
Orheiul Vechi: The Orheiul Vechi Monastery complex is carved into a cliff and dates back to the 13th century, although it has only recently come back into use after being abandoned in the 18th century. It contains a chapel and a sleeping area for monks, and the cliffside is dotted with small cave and places of worship, dug over thousands of years by ancient Dacian tribes.
Day 4: Transdniestria. Cross the border into the breakaway republic of Transdniestr. Visit the capital, Tiraspol, where there is the opportunity to taste local cognac and then head to the city of Tighina, or Bendery, where you can explore the 16th century fortress. Overnight Hotel Dacia or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Transdniestr: Transdniestr is a curious entity, a self declared republic that is to all intents and purposes a separate state – yet unrecognised by other countries. Historically it, like Moldova, had formed part of the Soviet Union but unlike Moldova its population is mainly ethnic Russian who are opposed to being incorporated within Moldova.
The territory was claimed by Russia following conflict with the Ottoman Empire back in the 18th century, while the rest of Moldova fell under Turkish control – leading to claims in Transdniestr that it has never been part of Moldova. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Transdniestr declared independence, sparking war with Moldova and although peace reigns now, there is an uneasy relationship. Transdniestr has its own parliament, currency and border controls, yet few people have ever heard of it.
Day 5: Chisinau – Ukraine/ Romania. Early in the morning head south to visit Purcari Winery. On the way we will make a stop in Causeni town to visit its 15th century church, covered with antique frescoes. At Purcari we have the opportunity to sample some of its many fine wines. After lunch, transfer back to Ukraine/Romania, where the tour ends. Includes: (B), (L).
Also see tour packages in:
Europe Moldova Local Culture Cultural Journey Archeology/History