Tiraspol, the capital of a country that doesn’t exist: Transnistria

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Updated May 6, 2017 / Joรฃo Leitรฃo / 7 Comments / Filed in: / Reading time 8 minutes
Tiraspol, the capital of a country that doesn't exist: Transnistria

Tiraspol, the capital of a country that doesn’t exist: Transnistria

Tiraspol

Did you know that some countries don’t exist?

Well, they do exist, but they are not recognized by the United Nations.

This doesn’t prevent those “self-proclaimed” countries from being ruled and have a governmental administration.

This is the case of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic – PMR.

Have you ever heard of it?

Inside the Cathedral of the Birth of Christ in Tiraspol

Inside the Cathedral of the Birth of Christ in Tiraspol – Visit Transnistria

How about Transnistria?

Does it ring the bell now?

Lenin Statue and Government building in Tiraspol

Lenin Statue and Government building in Tiraspol

Pridnestrovie is a small territory on the right side of Moldova and southwest of Ukraine, close to Odessa. Although this country is not officially recognized, there are actually land borders with police and passport control.

Flag of Pridnestrovie - Transnistria
Flag of Pridnestrovie – Transnistria

the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is a de-facto constitutional independent republic located between Ukraine and Moldova.

This breakaway state is internationally known as Transnistria, and it has its own currency, its own parliament and politicians, its own police force and army (in fact Russian military). On this page you have a Tiraspol travel guide and many photos of Transnistria.

Visit Transnistria and Tiraspol the capital city

Visit Transnistria and Tiraspol

Visit Transnistria and Tiraspol

The capital, Tiraspol, is a fascinating city where huge post-Soviet and Russian propaganda monuments invade the streets and are part of the daily life of the mostly Russian and Ukrainians living there – the Moldovan ethnicity represents only 15% of the population.

Transnistria is somehow famous for its reputation of being a difficult and dangerous country to travel to. It seems there is strong evidence it is a haven for arms and human trafficking.

Against all the odds I found Transnistria a normal country, where you can easily cross the border and get in, hassle free.

My visit to Pridnestrovie (also known as Transnistria, Trans-Dniester or Transdniestria), was very normal, the border police were really very friendly, and at the tourist registration office, in the city center, I was given a 10-day visa automatically.

NOTE: All tourists need a temporary visa which can only be obtained when arriving at Tiraspol. You can enter the territory of Pridnestrovie, but you must register within 24 hours at the capital’s Immigration Office. The registration process is quite easy and without problems.

Video โ€“ Holidays in the Danger Zone

:
Fascinating documentary “Places That Donโ€™t Exist” – about Transnistria by Simon Reeve.

Pridnestrovie declared independence from the Soviet Union on the 27th August of 1991, right after Moldova. The biggest conflict in the region is that Pridnestrovie has never wanted to be part of Moldova and it has remained under the protection of Russians.

The problem goes back to 1940 when Stalin invaded Moldova and annexed Pridnestrovie by force. In short, it is a complicated conflict concerning territories possession and independence.

Hard feelings between states have been present ever since. During the war, when Moldova and Transnistria fought against each other, Moldova was defeated by Transnistria, mainly because Transnistriaยดs army was, in fact, the Russian army.

Nowadays Moldova is accepted as an independent territory by the international community, while Transnistria is not.

What to see in Tiraspol

Monument in Tiraspol, What to see

Monument in Tiraspol, What to see

For such a small territory, you canโ€™t expect much of Transnistria in what concerns historical monuments and landmarks.

However, traveling to Transnistria is worth for the experience itself.

A country that is not recognized as so, a territory that many people would never dare to enter in, are strong enough ingredients for those travelers searching for unique experiences.

In the capital, Tiraspol, the Statue of Alexander Suvorov – the founder of the city, and a memorial to those who lost their lives in the 1990-1992 conflict between Transnistria and Moldova are the top attraction of the city.

Statue of Alexander Suvorov in Tiraspol

Statue of Alexander Suvorov in Tiraspol

Right next to this monument you can find the tank-memorial to the victims of the Second World War. This T-34 tank that dominates the plaza was placed here to commemorate the Soviet victory of WW2.

T-34 Tank WW2 War Memorial in Tiraspol

T-34 Tank WW2 War Memorial in Tiraspol

Just aside the tank memorial, you can walk through the Afghan War Monument honoring the soldiers who fought in Afghanistan, with walls containing thousands of engraved names.

Afghanistan War Memorial in Tiraspol

Afghanistan War Memorial in Tiraspol

There is also the Memorial Complex of the Fallen Soldiers for the City’s Liberation, in the war against Moldova.

If you want to get rid of the war memorials and sad feelings, you can walk along the river or even enjoy a boat trip on the river Dniester.

Boat on the Dniester River in Tiraspol

Boat on the Dniester River in Tiraspol

You can have a look at the impressive building of the House of Soviets (Dom Sovetov) – the House of Parliament.

House of Soviets (Dom Sovetov), Tiraspol

House of Soviets (Dom Sovetov), Tiraspol

After that, relax at the beach, right in the city center, and enjoy a cold drink, supposing you visit it in the spring or summer time, of course.

Also read: Visiting Transnistria: Tiraspol, by Justin Ames from The Velvet Rocket.

You can visit The Nativity Church, also known as the Cathedral of the Birth of Christ, located in the city center.

Visit The Nativity Church in Tiraspol

Visit The Nativity Church in Tiraspol

On weekends, if you are keen on antiques, vintage or military objects, you will love to check what Russian street vendors have to offer you.

Video โ€“ Street Singer in Tiraspol:

Walk a bit further away from the city center and experience the real life of locals. You will be surprised by people’s peacefulness and their friendly manners.

Che Guevara and Putin in Tiraspol

Che Guevara and Putin in Tiraspol

You can also indulge yourself into the town’s fresh produce market, just behind the Nativity Church.

Tiraspol Market in Transnistria

Tiraspol Market in Transnistria

More than traveling in a breakaway country, in Transnistria you will feel like traveling back in time – to the Soviet Union – USSR.

Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic important dates

History of Transnistria

History of Transnistria

1792: The Russian Empire incorporates the Pridnestrovian area of the Dniester River, which is the border of southwestern Russia. Across the river, Moldova has always claimed the territory of Pridnestrovie.

1924: Under the new Soviet Union, Pridnestrovie is allocated in the Soviet Republic Moldova, which also incorporates parts of Ukraine. The Dniester River is still respected as the natural border between the two countries. By 1924 Moldova is part of Romania.

1940: Under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany, Stalin invades Romania and Moldova gets attached to Pridnestrovie. These areas become known as the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. By force, and as an act of war, the two distinct lands, Pridnestrovie and Moldova, are joined together in a single state, despite the natural border of Dniester river.

1990: In Chisinau, Moldova’s parliament annuls the 1940 pact, the Molotov-Ribbentrop, which annexed Moldova to the Soviet Union. A year later, in 1991, Moldova Republic declares its Independence.

1990: On September 2nd 1990, Pridnestrovie proclaims its independence. The declaration of independence and the creation of a Democratic Republic follow the will of the people scrutinized in a referendum.

Also read: Tourism in Transnistria: Examining the Last Remnants of the USSR, by Darmon Richter, from The Bohemian Blog.

Visa for Transnistria

Immigration Office in Tiraspol, Visa for Transnistria

Immigration Office in Tiraspol, Visa for Transnistria

Since March 2015 you are given an entry card at the border that allows you to stay in Transnistria for 24 hours.

All tourists who stay more than 24 hours in Pridnestrovie have to make a visa.

This Transnistria visa gives the right to stay longer in the country.

Registration is a simple process. Please notice that Immigration Office has moved to a new building. Thus the address you may find in travel guides may be wrong. The new office is 2 blocks down the Lenina street, at the very end of the road. It is not hard to find.

Immigration Office in Tiraspol, Visa for Transnistria

Immigration Office in Tiraspol, Visa for Transnistria

Iยดve read in many websites people criticizing this process but, in fact, I don’t see any difference between this visa and the acquisition of a visa for any other country. The only difference is that here it is done on-site.

While registering, I was asked for how long would need a visa, and I answered about 3 or 4 days.

The lady replied: “OK, then Iโ€™ll give you 10 days. It is enough, isn’t it?”

It was easy. I paid next door and was ready to go. They make general questions about where you are from, where you are staying, why you are thereโ€ฆ that kind of basic questions.

Immigration Office in Tiraspol:

Address: Kotovsky Str 2, Tiraspol – PMR
Working hours: 9:30 to 11:30 and 13:00 to 16:30

Aist Hotel in Tiraspol, Pridnestrovie

Aist Hotel in Tiraspol, Pridnestrovie

Aist Hotel in Tiraspol, Pridnestrovie

This seems to be one of the few hotels in the city center. AIST hotel is as great as old fashioned. But it is central, and the rooms on the top floors have a excellent view over the city. The employees are friendly.

The rooms are beautiful, despite the need of renewal. We can notice that it must have been a very good hotel 30 years ago.

Hotel in Tiraspol, Transnistria

Hotel in Tiraspol, Transnistria

The price of this hotel in Tiraspol is of 400 rubles = $44 dollars per apartment w / double room + living room.

There are other cheaper rooms for $25 dollars a night. The price I paid – $44 dollars – was for the whole apartment. The view of the city from the window was fantastic.

The hotel is right next to the main square, where there is a monument to the fighters of the war against Moldova, and 5 minutes away from the market.

I was not looking for this hotel at all, but after more than 40 minutes asking for hotels or hostels, everyone suggested me two: this one and another one that was closed and no longer working. I knew there were more hotels available in the city but all roads led me to this one.

Transportation to and from Tiraspol

To enter the country, I arrived coming from the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia – an autonomous region of Moldova. I left Transnistria going to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova.

Bus from Tiraspol to Chisinau – Moldova to Transnistria

Bus from Tiraspol to Chisinau - Moldova to Transnistria

Bus from Tiraspol to Chisinau – Moldova to Transnistria

It was almost 2 pm, and I was in front of Tiraspol train station looking for a Marshrutka (mini-bus) to take me to the Moldovan capital city of Chisinau.

From the central train station in Tiraspol, there are buses and marshrutkas departing to multiple destinations, including Chisinau in Moldova and Odessa in Ukraine.

Bus from Tiraspol to Chisinau - Moldova to Transnistria

Bus from Tiraspol to Chisinau – Moldova to Transnistria

After having asked for marshrutkas which are faster than buses, I realized that my only solution was to go on the bus departing at 3:05 pm.

A big old bus drove by a man wearing a ship captain’s hat. The bus arrived in Chisinau at 7:30 pm just in time to get another bus to Bucharest at 8 pm. The price of the bus from Tiraspol to Chisinau was 27 rubles.

Minibus from Comrat to Tiraspol – Gagauzia to Transnistria

Minibus from Comrat to Tiraspol - Gagauzia to Transnistria

Minibus from Comrat to Tiraspol – Gagauzia to Transnistria

From the central bus station in Comrat, there are several daily departures to Tiraspol in Transnistria. The price of the marshrutka from Comrat to Tiraspol was 55 MDL.

Schedules are as follows: 8:40am, 2:20pm and 5:30pm. Be there a bit earlier so that you get a seat. You can buy the ticket to the driver or at the box office.

The trip is OK, the border crossing is calm. The country side roads in the south of Moldova are in poor conditions.

At the border with PMR, I had to get off the marshrutka to fill in an entry paper and answer a few questions to the police. It was not a lengthy inquiry, just the normal immigration procedure.

NOTE: You may simply say that you are a tourist and are going to stay in a hotel in Tiraspol. If you book a hotel through Booking.com website you can show them your printed reservation receipt.

Visual artist shares inspiring photos and exotic travel destinations. Adventure travel blogger with ideas and narratives to motivate independent travelers and audacious backpackers. Intense journeys into more than 126 countries around Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Oceania since 1999. Expat in Morocco - North Africa since 2007, polyglot and proud Lonely Planet Pathfinders blogger.

Leave your comment:

7 Comments. Leave new

Brian Harloff
March 2, 2017 2:30 am

Thank you for the very informative article we are looking forward to see for ourselves in April 2017 Brian & Robyn from Australia.

Reply

Hi, are you guys still making the trip? I will be in Tiraspol between 24 and 27 Mar 2017 with a friend. We are from the UK. Wondering if our paths will cross. Could meet for a few drinks if so!

Reply

Hi Joรฃo!

Thanks for the great article. It’s nice to read an updated entry about Transnistria. I’m planning to hit the road very soon and got two questions: how much did you pay for the visa and is it easy to change $ for local rubles?

Gracias!

Reply
adeleye israel
June 11, 2015 10:53 am

i am writing from Nigeria, Africa. Please i want to know how genuine this place is because i have a brother that is traveling there come 18th of this month and according to the visa given him carried 5years visa and employment category. your advise is welcome, thanks
Israel

Reply

This is a really interesting post. I love the pictures and how everything looks like a throwback to the 1950s-60s. I would love to visit one day, such a great story. Thanks for all the information and pictures.

Reply

I’d never even heard of this place before! Now I’m fascinated. Thanks for this article – it was very informative and eye-opening!

Reply

Hello again Sara, in which part of the world are you now? ๐Ÿ˜› thank you again for your nice comment. I’m glad you somehow keep in touch through your comments. Transnistria is indeed an interesting destination that most people don’t know exists. Big kiss, happy travels!

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