City Orientation Walk (Self Guided), Chisinau

Chisinau is the capital of Moldova, the country sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania in Eastern Europe, which had for many years been part of the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union until it finally got independence in 1991. Moldovan culture and language are deeply rooted in the Roman tradition. Just like the eternal city of Rome itself, Chisinau rests on 7 hills in the valley of the River Bic and even has a replica of the Capitoline Wolf statue in its center. The city is fairly small with a population of just 800,000; it is very compact, so most of its attractions are located downtown, within a walking distance from each other. Follow this orientation walk and explore the most notable sights of the Moldovan capital!
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Moldova » Chisinau (See other walking tours in Chisinau)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: ann
1
Stephen the Great Monument

1) Stephen the Great Monument (must see)

The monument to Stephen the Great is located outside the main entrance to the park of the same name in downtown Chisinau. The bronze monument commemorates Stefan cel Mare ("the Great"), Moldova's ancient ruler who successfully defended the country in the 15th century from Turkish invasion. The statue was cast in Bucharest in the early 20th century and was intended to replace the monument of the Russian Emperor Alexander II, previously demolished in 1918 by Romanian authorities.

Sculptor Alexandru Plamadeala traveled far and wide in order to find a portrait of Stefan cel Mare prior to starting the work on the monument. It is said that the sculptor had made three different copies of the monument, one of which stands today. Over the years, the monument has been moved from place to place several times. A few days before the 1940 Soviet occupation of Bessarabia, it had traveled to Vaslui in the eastern part of Romania and then back to Chisinau in 1942. After that, in 1944, the monument again was sent to Romania. Eventually, after a long while, in 1989, it was restored in its original location in Chisinau. The inscriptions on the monument also have been restored. Nowadays situated in the center of the city, the monument is one of the top sights for tourists visiting the Moldovan capital.
2
National History Museum

2) National History Museum (must see)

The National History Museum of Moldova opened in 1987 and is located in the former Regional Lyceum in the historic center of Chisinau. In front of the building stands a replica of the legendary Capitoline Wolf monument, depicting Roman she-wolf suckling twin infants Romulus and Remus.

The museum has 10 exhibition halls, three of which are covered with domes and are extremely beautiful architectural constructions. The museum is divided into several sections, namely: Archaeology and Ancient History, Medieval History, History of Bessarabia, Contemporary History, and Treasures.

The entire collection accounts for over 260,000 exhibits and includes archaeological finds, documents, photographs, numismatics, everyday life objects, decorative and artisan works. At least 165,000 of these items are qualified as "national treasure".

Each year the museum hosts about 15 exhibitions, all of which are important events in the country's cultural life. Tours are offered in Russian and Romanian. Exhibit information is in Romanian. There's a guide-interpreter service available.

Tip:
You should buy three tickets if you want to take photos.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am–5pm (Nov-Mar); 10am–5pm (Apr-Oct)
Closed: Fridays, Jan 1/7/8, Mar 8, Orthodox Easter (1st/2nd day), next Monday after Easter, May 1st, Aug 27
3
Stephen the Great Park

3) Stephen the Great Park (must see)

There is nothing more romantic than a long stroll in the park, and if the park itself is the oldest in town, it only adds to the appeal. Should you fancy a quiet oasis of greenery amid the busy urban setting, then Stefan cel Mare Park is undoubtedly the right place for you. Spread across 17 acres of land, it is located in the very center of Chisinau, sided by the Government building to the east and the house of Parliament to the west, bounded by Stefan cel Mare Boulevard and 31 August Street. The park was established in 1818 by the Russian Army Engineer Corps, and later was remodeled into its present shape by Alexander Bernardazzi. For many years it was known as Pushkin Park, named after the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, who spent several years in Chisinau in exile in the early 19th century. The bust of Alexander Pushkin marks the center of the park and was created through public subscription by well-known Russian sculptor Alexander Mikhailovich Opekushin in 1885. In fact, Chisinau was the second city in the Russian Empire, after Moscow, to have established the statue commemorating the great poet. Nearby is the Alley of Classics of the Moldovan Literature which was opened in 1958. The Alley features monuments to the pillars of the Moldovan Literature, such as Mihai Eminescu, Grigore Vieru and many others. Today, the park is also dubbed the “lovers' park” for being one of the most popular hangouts for the young people who come here regularly to meet, chat and spend time kindling their relationship.
4
Parliament Building

4) Parliament Building (must see)

Built under the Soviets in 1976-79, the former headquarters of then mighty Communist Party now houses Moldova's Parliament. The building has the shape of an open book with the central part of the facade supported by four high-standing vertical columns. In spring 2009 the building came under attack of rioting students in what later became known as the "Twitter Revolution". During the years 2012-13 repairs have advanced and the Parliament moved back in the building in February 2014.
5
Presidential Palace

5) Presidential Palace (must see)

Located in the very heart of Chisinau, the Presidential Palace is a relatively new monument of national importance. The glass-clad building was erected in 1984-87 by Yuri Tumanean, A. Zaltman, and V. Iavorski. It was made to be the new building of the Supreme Soviet of the Moldavian SSR. After Moldova gained its independence, the building became the residence of the President of Moldova. The building was devastated during protests on April 7, 2009 against President Vladimir Voronin. As a result of the protest, the palace was closed off. In the early years of the Dodon presidency, steps were taken to renovate the palace with the help of the Turkish government. The newly renovated palace was opened on October 17, 2018, in the presence of President Dodon and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
6
National Opera and Ballet Theatre

6) National Opera and Ballet Theatre (must see)

Housed in a building on the Stefan the Great Boulevard, the main road in Chisinau, this is one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in Eastern Europe. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the theatre was one of the few to retain its own ballet, opera and orchestra, with its own soloists and chorus, and now has some great equipment and facilities. In 2012, it was given the name of the renowned opera singer Maria Bieșu.

Presently, the theater employs a group of talented seasoned as well as young artists, some of whom are graduates from the Choreographic College in Chisinau. In recent years the troupe has traveled far and wide, often touring in the near and far abroad countries – Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Portugal, France, Spain, Britain, etc. – adjusting its repertoire to the wishes of foreign impresarios, focused on specific national tastes.

Why You Should Visit:
The theatre is always full which adds to the atmosphere, and prices are some 10% of those in London so you certainly get excellent value for money.

Ticket Office Hours:
Mon-Fri: 11am-6pm; Sat, Sun: 11am-4pm
With lunch break between 1-2pm
7
Milestii Mici

7) Milestii Mici

What to buy here: Milestii Mici wine.
The Milestii Mici winery is world famous for having the biggest natural wine cellar. The production range is enormous and includes, among other, the gems like Feteasca 1987, Riesling 1986, Milestscoe 1986, Gratiesti 1986, Muscat 1988, Trandafirul Moldovei 1986, Auriu 1986, and Cahor-Ciumai 1986. All of these are available at a specialized store in the center of Chisinau.
8
Nativity Cathedral

8) Nativity Cathedral (must see)

The Nativity Cathedral is a magnificent example of Russian architecture in Chisinau. Built in the early 19th century, it was designed by architect Avraam Melnikov – one of that period's finest architects of the Russian Empire. Like most religious buildings in the city, it was repurposed to an exhibition center during the Soviet era. Only recently has it again found life as a place of worship, sporting beautifully painted walls in pure Orthodox style.

Construction was commissioned by Prince Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov, the governor of New Russia. Considering the importance of the project, great care was taken for the building to appear elegant, regal and timeless. Renowned for his many creations across the Russian Empire, Avraam Melnikov was hired to run the project. A fine piece of neoclassic construction, the cathedral boasts an eclectic style, featuring a combination of Byzantine architecture with a hint of Renaissance on a Greek Cross, a perfect brew for neoclassic design.

In the course of centuries, this remarkable building has sustained multiple damages caused by wars and political upheavals following the collapse of, first, the Russian Empire and, then, the Soviet Union. Today, the cathedral stands as the main temple of the Russian Orthodox Church in Chisinau and is a definite must-see for any visitor to the city.

Why You Should Visit:
Located in a nice square (good for meditating and/or people watching), this place looks very large and simple from the outside, but inside it is very small yet with bright tones; a great example of such type of cathedral.

Tip:
Go inside, you might be surprised by what you'll find and how you will feel.
You can also feed the pigeons and play a game of chess on the big chess table nearby.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-4pm
Free admission
9
Bell Tower

9) Bell Tower (must see)

Standing right behind the Holy Gates is a beautiful bell tower, an important religious and historic site in Chisinau city. It represents the exact replica of the original bell tower built in 1830 (the same year as the Metropolitan Cathedral was built), only to be demolished in the 1960s and then restored again in 1998. The bell tower comprises four levels with a small chapel on the ground level and several bells at the top.

Tip:
Notice the flowerbeds surrounding, but make sure to visit the many flower shops on the side.
10
Triumphal Arch

10) Triumphal Arch (must see)

Also known as the Holy Gate, the Triumphal Arch is an important structure in the center of Chisinau. It commemorates the victory of Russia over Turkey and was built in 1846 to a design by architect I. Zaushkevich. The Arch is a major tourist sight, overlooking the Government building on Stefan cel Mare Boulevard from across the Great National Assembly Square.

The Arch is a classic, square-shaped piece of architecture, featuring ornately decorated Corinthian columns and beautiful clock on the side, chiming every fifteen minutes. It stands 13 meters high and is distinctly divided into two tiers. The lower tier comprises four sturdy pylons, decorated with classic Corinthian columns, which give the structure its regal look. Aside from architecture, the Arch (Gate) is also noted for its fascinating history. After the Russians had defeated the Turkish army, Tsar Nikolai I, acting on the request of General M.S. Vorontsov, one of the most prominent war veterans, ordered the making of bells from captured Turkish canons. The bells were to be installed on the bell tower inside the Arch. However, upon their completion, it became obvious that the bells were too big for the tower and therefore a separate belfry had to be erected nearby to hold the bells.

Why You Should Visit:
Historical significance aside, it is quite refreshing to find a monument of this type in Moldova. You can't go in it or up it, but it gives a little relief to the city itself.
Quite successful in its miniature form and a must-see of the Moldavian Champs-Élysées as it marks the dead center of town.

Tip:
Take a walk to see it at dusk as it is beautifully lit in the evening. You can also spend some time in the very nice park.
11
City Hall

11) City Hall (must see)

There aren't many old buildings in Chisinau fit to captivate the eye of the beholder. One of them, undoubtedly, is the City Hall building, an architectural landmark in its own right, located in the downtown part of the city, standing majestically on the corner of Stefan cel Mare Boulevard and Vlaicu Parcalab Street.

This two-story building was raised in the early 20th century and features classic Gothic Italian style with a quad-shaped plan. Designed by Alexander Bernardazzi, the building has an elegant façade with arched windows, ornately crowned by triangular pediments. The walls, draped in a faint shade of beige and white, are marvelously complemented by an elegant clock tower at the top. The City Hall is lavishly embellished with medieval Gothic and Renaissance style decorations, revealing a heavy influence of Italian decorative style. The building suffered terrible damage during the Second World War and required painstaking efforts to be returned to its former glory. Today, a commemorative plaque to architect Bernardazzi is placed on its front wall.

Tip:
Best appreciated from the sidewalk in front where you are able to see all the details of the ornamentation. Next door is a souvenir shop.
12
Organ Hall

12) Organ Hall (must see)

Originally, the Organ Hall building was designed as the City Bank. In 1902 the Municipal Council of Chisinau launched a competition of architectural projects with a prize of 1,500 rubles, which was a fairly large amount in those days. The winner – engineer Mikhail Chekerul-Kush, aged 38 at that time – received commendation from the famous architect Alexander Bernardazzi himself.

In Soviet times, the building housed the regional office of the USSR State Bank. The decision to turn it into a concert hall was taken by the then leader of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, Ivan Bodiul. His daughter, Svetlana Bodiul, was an accomplished organist who had graduated from the Moscow Conservatory and long dreamed of a decent venue for classical music in her hometown. Reconstruction started in 1975 and lasted until 1978, led by architect Y.L. Leonchenko.

The first concert was held on 16 September 1978 played by prominent Soviet organist Harry Y. Grodberg. That concert also featured local opera diva Maria Bieshu, cellist Ion Josan, Svetlana Bodiul herself, and the choir conducted by Veronica Garstea.

Many prominent musicians have played the Organ Hall ever since. Among them Igor Oistrakh, Vladimir Spivakov, the "Madrigal" Moscow Philharmonic Ensemble, the National Chamber Orchestra of Russia under Viktor Tretyakov, and many other stars of classical organ and instrumental chamber music from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Romania, the Czech Republic, the USA, and other countries. Annually, the Organ Hall hosts a variety of festivals, competitions and art exhibitions. Among the most important cultural events held here are the International Music Festival "Martisor", the International Classical Music Festival "Crescendo", the "New Music Days" festival of contemporary classical music, as well as national and international competitions of instrumental performers and singers.

Why You Should Visit:
This place provides some good acoustics! At the least, one of the most accessible, unlikely to be discovered, concert halls in all of Eastern Europe.
Although the recently renovated building is not very large, it looks almost like a palace, so you'll have a neat spot for taking pictures as well.

Tip:
Don't miss the very nice antique store on the left upon entering! It is worth visiting. Also, the prices are okay for both the shop and for the concerts.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am-6pm
13
Artists' Square

13) Artists' Square (must see)

Artists' Square, also nicknamed "Arbat", found between Eminescu Theater and the Organ Hall, is a designated tourist market for Moldavian souvenirs, crafts, and paintings of local artists. Within the market, there are also stalls selling rare coins (Romanian, European, but mostly Russian), old postcards, stamps, various Soviet memorabilia (badges, awards) and some militaria. There are stalls selling old jewelry, random cutlery, glassware, ceramics, old clocks, figurines and tinware. Don't be surprised to find some of them coming from German or French fleas. If you are looking for some rare Moldavian or Russian Empire collectibles, you may just hang around to acquaint yourself with those who sell them by a hand-made catalogue, but note that the prices they offer are usually much higher.

Operation Hours:
Daily: 10am-4pm

Walking Tours in Chisinau, Moldova

Create Your Own Walk in Chisinau

Create Your Own Walk in Chisinau

Creating your own self-guided walk in Chisinau is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Cultural Walking Tour of Chisinau

Cultural Walking Tour of Chisinau

Perhaps one of the things adults and kids equally enjoy is going to museums. Those interested to learn about Moldova's past and appreciate the creativity of the Moldovan people should definitely explore Chisinau's museums and galleries. It also may be a good idea to mingle with the people of art at some of their hangout places.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Go About Daily Life Tour of Chisinau

Go About Daily Life Tour of Chisinau

Ever wondered what it is like living in Chisinau? Well, now you have the chance to find out. Visit the Afghan War Memorial to Sons of Motherland, see where and how kids and students receive "occupational guidance", or unwind at the local park. Follow this walking tour to discover the daily life of Chisinau's Riscani district.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Best Wine and Brandy Shops

Best Wine and Brandy Shops

It would be an true pity to visit Chisinau without having explored its specialized wine and brandy shops, and picking up at least one bottle. Moldova is a renowned producer of wine and spirits, it offers true quality products based on centuries-old traditions, and at bargain prices too. This tour will take you to some of the best shops in town selling wines and liquors, all within a walk of the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 Km or 2.5 Miles
Chisinau History Walk

Chisinau History Walk

The history of Chisinau goes back over 500 years and may reveal itself to the eyes of the beholder in the walls of the buildings, the stones of the monuments, and the once cobblestone but now asphalt-covered roads of the old city. Some of the narrow streets of Chisinau are rarely trotted by locals and thus have retained much of their original character. Most of the listed here attractions are not...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Stefan cel Mare Blvd Walk

Stefan cel Mare Blvd Walk

Known as the "Green Capital", Chisinau traces its history to 1436, it represents the cultural, economic and political center of Moldova. Stefan cel Mare Blvd is one of the oldest and most prominent streets in the city, here you will find a lot of beautiful churches, fine architectural pieces, important historic sights, as well as tranquil and picturesque parks. Be sure to visit some, if...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Religious Walking Tour of Chisinau

Religious Walking Tour of Chisinau

Strong faith and love for God the Moldovans have kept for centuries are well reflected in the numerous churches found in Chisinau. This self-guided tour will take you to the places of worship located in the city center. Whether to enjoy the architecture or attend the service, these churches are well worth visiting all the same.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.8 Km or 3.6 Miles

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