Did you know that Moldova is the least visited country in Europe? The few that do venture here visit the fabulous wineries, which during Soviet times gained Moldova the title of THE wine producer for the whole of the USSR. Even these days, tiny Moldova it’s the 22nd biggest wine exporting nation in the world. Another reason many people to travel to Moldova is to visit the unrecognised country of Transnistria, or as the cool kids call it, Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Russian: Приднестровская Молдавская Республика).
Transnistria, which fought a bitter war of independence during the early 90’s, has many monikers. The “last of the Soviet Union” and “the place that didn’t get the memo that the Cold War was over”, to name a few. Tiraspol and Transnistria still use the hammer and sickle liberally in their iconography, whilst also boasting more than their fair share of Lenin statues. Both places have a somewhat pseudo-Soviet feel to them.
But, whilst traveling to Transnistria has now become less uncommon, most people don’t realize that less than two hours from Tiraspol in Transnistria and the Moldovan capital of Chisinau is the lesser known city of Comrat. Capital of Gagauzia, technically known the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia, Comrat is another dejure part of the Republic of Moldova that also fought a war of independence. The Gagauzians are descendants of Turkic people who settled in the area and converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Whilst the winds of change hurtled through the old USSR in the early 90’s, support for the Soviets in Gagauzia ran high. Following the failed coup of 1991 (which many Gagauzians supported) they declared themselves independent to avoid being part of a Romanian dominated Moldovan state.