Jun 29

THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA AND ITS HIDDEN CHARMS

Sometimes, the nicest things exist where we least expect and look. Most people dream of exotic vacations on desert islands, but they ignore so many other wonders nearby, that are at least as awesome and maybe even easier to acquire. The Republic of Moldavia is one of the hidden gems of Europe, which many people miss out, but they have no clue about the touristic potential that it holds. We are going to present you a few of the interesting and amazing places that you will find in the Republic of Moldova and are waiting for you to discover them.

The following suggestions serve as eloquent evidence that Moldova is rich in rural landscapes and that anybody across the world would choose as their holiday destination. Starting from the largest cellar in the world and continuing with the fascinating monasteries, touristic locations of Moldova are an invaluable treasure waiting to be discovered.

Soroca Fortress is in the center of Soroca town, about 160 km north of Chisinau. In the Middle Ages the city of Soroca was part of a vast defensive system of Moldova. It was built close to the Nistru River cross path on the site of the old fortifications. In 1499, on the command of Stephen the Great, the city erected a wooden square. Between 1543 and 1546, during the reign of Petru Rares, the city is rebuilt from its foundation entirely in stone, as we see it today. The fortress is a medieval monument in Moldova, which was kept in its original form, as it was designed by craftsmen and the entrance in the bastion there is a small military church.

In the same area, you can visit the “Candle of Gratitude” Monument (located high on a rock above the bank of Nistru River), which represents one of the most important creations in the history of Moldova, and you can also visit the beautiful Cosăuţi Monastery.

The Orhei Museum Complex, situated in a rocky gorge of Raut River, over 200 meters deep, is one of the most famous areas rich in archeological vestiges and remains of different civilizations established between the area of Nistru and Prut. It is one of two places in the world where ancient ruins dating millennia ago have been preserved is such a good shape. Stone caverns confirm the presence of the first human settlements that date back a few hundred thousand years. The rocky hill hosts a strong fortification of the Dacians, dating between the 5th and 3rd century b.C. The surface of the archeological complex is extraordinarily small for the large number of natural and architectural monuments directly descended from history and legend.

Here, tourists can visit the Farmyard Museum (19th century), the landscape reserve “Trebujeni” and many other beautiful sight seeings.

Milestii Mici Cellar entered the Guinness Book of Records in 2007 after having been validated as having the world’s longest and highest storage capacity. Nowadays, it is an underground wine city with a total length of galleries of over 200 kilometers, with streets named after famous wines and along which there are placed oak barrels and tanks with a total capacity of 65 million liters, underground waterfalls, fountains and tasting rooms.

A special place within the Cellar is represented by the “Milestii Mici” Golden Collection, where you will find about 2 million bottles of wines of the finest quality. You can also visit the “Estate of Maniuc Bei” and the “Milestii Mici” wine warehouses.

In the center of Moldova, in a picturesque area with green and deep forests there is one of the oldest monasteries of Moldova – Capriana, founded in 1429. It was built by various rulers, including Stephen the Great, and has long served as the residence of the Metropolitan of Moldova. Being closed and devastated during the post-war years, it reopened again in 1989, becoming a symbol of national revival. At Capriana you can find the largest monastic library in Moldova, with precious royal gifts.

Nearby you can visit many beautiful old churches, such as “Assumption” (built in 1545), “Saint Nicholas” (1840), “St. George” (1903), “Capriana-Scoreni” landscape reserve, the oak of Stephen the Great; the oldest reserve of Moldova – “Codri”, Răciula Monastery or Cojusna Winery.

Photo source

Picture 1: orhei.net; Picture 2: amadeus.extralan.ro; Picture 3: calatorie.md; Picture 4: moodle.md; Picture 5: publika.md; Picture 6: zoom.mediafax.ro; Picture 7: calatorie.md
Jun 26

Soroca Fortress (Cetatea Soroca)

The Soroca Fortress has been erected by Stephan the Great in the 15th century. The Moldavian keep, which had been built on the site of an ancient Genovese fortress, named Alciona, is situated right near Nistru River. But the edifice that stands erect in front of us at present is actually the work of Petru Rares, the son of Stephan the Great, who had rebuilt the fortress and had endowed it with walls made out of stone.

There are several historical documents which mention that a fortress was constructed on the bank of the river Nistru, and that wood or stone was the main material used in the construction work. The belief is that Soroca was erected out of wood and mud in the first decades of the 15th century, but the first documentary evidence of the edifice under discussion is available from the 12th of July 1499.

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Nistru cannot be crossed in too many points along its streamline as the banks are quite steep, but where this was possible there was also the risk of Tartar invasion and pillage of the Moldavian establishments. If the crossing points at Hotin and Tighina were safeguarded by the garrisons encountered in the fortresses which bore the same names as the towns in which they were located, Soroca was left defenseless. It was not until the time of Stephan the Great that measures of protection are finally taken – when the construction work of a wooden fortification began.

But due to the fact that the materials used initially suffered a lot under the weight of time, the edifice was damaged severely. The new fortress built by Petru Rares consists of stone walls and measures 15 to 20 m. Tourists will be pleased to hear that the fortress maintains the appearance given to it by Petru Rares so they will have the opportunity to gaze on an unique Moldavian medieval fortress which stands out due to its architectural structure.

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It is a circular construction with a diameter of 37,5 m, 4 circular towers and one rectangular tower. Measuring  15 m in height and 8 m in width. The structure is extremely tight in the sense that the towers are equally distanced from one another. Underneath the rectangular tower lies the entrance door.

Upon entering the fortress one can notice that the fort is structered on three levels. The 1st level used to consist of several stores and tunnels. The 2nd level consisted of living grounds. Access to the watchtowers was done through the second floor, but this also served as a defense mechanism for the stores located beneath, whereas the last floor was used mainly by guards in order to get access to the towers.

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The main tower, the rectangular one, also consisted of two parts: the section beneath was actually meant to provide access within the fortress (as it has been mentioned previously), whereas the superior part was transformed into a small chapel decarated with fresco works.

The fortress and the chapel have become emblems of Soroca. Many couples decide to get married here not solely because of the historical background of the location but also because it brings something new to the traditional marriage ceremony.

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After the mighty fortress was completed, Soroca began to grow in importance and it developed an administrative and commercial function due to the customs point established here. Likewise, the fortress was responsible for the development of the urban nucleus of Soroca which was meant to function as the commercial center of Moldavia.

The Soroca Fortress, whose historical and geographical personality was already clearly determined by the end of the 15th century, resulted from the need to establish a political frontier in the middle of the Nistru River, on the Naslavcea-Vadu Rascu portion, from the need to establish a commercial route which would be protected by the Soroca Fortress and to develop the economy in Soroca which would sustain the population in this region.

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The structure and architectural design were perfectly selected in the sense that no enemy fire could bring down the edifice. So the fortress fulfilled the purpose for which it was designed: providing defense.