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Cultural Walking Tour of Chisinau (Self Guided), 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.
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Cultural Walking Tour of Chisinau Map

Guide Name: Cultural Walking Tour of Chisinau
Guide Location: Moldova » Chisinau (See other walking tours in Chisinau)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: ann
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History
  • Pedagogical Museum
  • Sciusev House Museum
  • National History Museum
  • National Museum of Fine Arts
  • EuroFotoArt Gallery
  • "L" Gallery
  • National Palace
  • Organ Hall
  • Artists' Square
  • National Theater Mihai Eminescu
  • The National Philharmonic "S. Lunchevici"
National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History

1) National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History (must see)

Founded in October 1889, the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History is the oldest museum in the country. It was originally established as a museum of agriculture but then expanded to embrace the study of Bessarabian culture. Today, the museum represents an important scientific and cultural institution with much international acclaim.

The museum moved to its current location after its completion in 1905. Architect Vladimir Tsyganko adorned the building with a signature frontal façade consisting of a triangular pediment supported by two Doric columns. The rest of the building, with its partially-stone partially-plastered walls, has a semi-basement appearance.

The interior is split into two main sections — one, exhibiting Moldova's flora and fauna and its transformation over the years, and the other, featuring Moldovan people and their traditions, allowing visitors to trace the evolution of Moldovan ethnicity. The collection includes paleontological, ethnographic and archaeological finds. There is a small fee charged at the entrance. After visiting the museum, one may also want to take a quick stroll in the oldest in Moldova botanical garden nearby.

Why You Should Visit:
The first museum to be entered by first-timers in Moldova, housed in a beautiful building that looks like a Mauritanian castle.
There are several temporary and permanent exhibitions, which show both art and popular traditions, to keep you occupied for the whole day.
You'll also find some strange specimens, taxidermied or jarred in Soviet-style, as well as excellent dioramas/recreations of dinosaurs and other animals.

Don't miss the small botanical garden-slash-zoo with various reptiles and birds from all over the world (e.g., peacocks, emus).
If lucky, you can get someone to give you an English tour (not always available, though).

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm
Pedagogical Museum

2) Pedagogical Museum

The National Pedagogical Museum of the Republic of Moldova was founded in 1974 as part of the Institute of Pedagogical Studies, and later - in 1976 - became an independent entity.

The museum is located in a historic building in the center of Chisinau. The former house of engineer Serbinov, built in the late XIX century, is one of the few surviving pieces of the city's old architecture. It fits ideally to house the museum collection, comprising over 15,000 items each of which is a rarity in its own right.

The museum has five themed exhibition halls. The first hall documents the history of education in Moldova from the earliest times to 1917. The second room exhibits the history of education in Bessarabia (as part of Romania) and the Moldavian SSR (within the Soviet Union) from 1917 to 1940. The third room is dedicated to the history of education in wartime and post-WWII period.

The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm, except weekends. Tours are offered in Romanian and Russian. Admission is free.
Sciusev House Museum

3) Sciusev House Museum

The house-museum of Alexei Sciusev [Shchusev] is a listed national heritage site. This is the house where Alexei Sciusev, famous Russian/Soviet architect, was born and raised. Sciusev is the author of many unique architectural creations in Russia (such as the Kazan railway station in Moscow and Lenin's Mausoleum) and other countries, like Georgia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Italy. He also took an active part in the restoration of Chisinau after the Second World War.

The museum comprises more than 2,000 exhibits - personal effects, photographs and documents of the architect. Part of the collection is dedicated to the life and work of another famous local architect Alexander Bernardazzi. The latter was the first Chisinau city architect and created more than 30 buildings, some of which still adorn the historic city center.

Tours are offered in Russian and Romanian. Exhibit information is in Romanian. Opening hours: Monday - Thursday: 9 am - 4 pm.
National History Museum

4) 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.

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
National Museum of Fine Arts

5) National Museum of Fine Arts (must see)

One site that is invariably present on the list of every visitor to Chisinau is the National Museum of Fine Arts – not just because of it being the home of some of the best works of art in the region, but also because it stands as a remarkable architectural monument.

Built in the mid 19th century by famous Russian architect Alexander Bernardazzi, this historic structure, unlike many others in Chisinau, has successfully survived a number of natural and human attempts to destroy it. This is partially the reason why it remains one of the most treasured local monuments and a source of many tales from the past. Over the years it has housed a school, gymnasium, hospital and warehouse, prior to becoming the home of fine arts collections.

The museum was founded in 1939 by famous local sculptor, Alexandru Plămădeală, in partnership with Auguste Baillayre, the French painter who later became the first director of the museum. It is said that Alexandru Plămădeală personally selected 160 works of Bessarabian and Romanian artists to set up the museum's first gallery. Apart from viewing the collection itself, visitors to the museum can learn about many of its lost treasures – a rather exciting story.

Why You Should Visit:
A nicely refurbished museum, very suitable for art exhibitions. The current collection has a good selection of old and very modern paintings/sculptures.
You can see that the staff makes efforts to present the permanent collection properly and also to organize interesting temporary exhibits.

The museum can be visited in about an hour and a half, including temporary exhibitions.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm
EuroFotoArt Gallery

6) EuroFotoArt Gallery

EuroFotoArt Gallery is a photo gallery on Pushkin Street. The gallery exhibits works from the famous local portal The displayed photos are of different styles, from "street" to classic studio portraits. Anyone from beginner amateurs to seasoned professionals can exhibit they works here, if original and of good quality.
"L" Gallery

7) "L" Gallery

Located at the corner of Pushkin and Bucuresti streets, this small gallery offers an impressive, considering the small space, collection of paintings created by contemporary Moldovan artists, both famous and not quite so. All the paintings are for sale; the prices are reasonable. Inside the gallery there is also a small souvenir shop.

Operation hours: Monday - Friday: 10 am - 6 pm; Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm; Sunday: 10 am - 4 pm
National Palace

8) National Palace

The National Palace in Chisinau may not boast a very fancy façade but it definitely demands attention. If you are a fan of opera and love theater, the National Palace is for you. Located in the center of Chisinau, the National Palace has been in service since 1974. Designed by architect S. Fridman, its initial purpose was not to promote performing arts, though, but to host symposiums, international summits, official state meetings and conferences. During the Soviet era, sessions of the Moldovan Communist Party were held here regularly. Just a year after its inauguration, the building saw a shift in authority and came under the control of the Culture Ministry. In 1975, the National Palace was officially declared the cultural center of Chisinau. Since then, it has earned the reputation of one of the country’s finest theaters, drawing artistic talents of both national and international caliber. Apart from a spacious theater, which seats up to 2000 people, the venue features an amphitheater with elaborate, ornately decorated balconies.
Organ Hall

9) 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.

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
Artists' Square

10) 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
National Theater Mihai Eminescu

11) National Theater Mihai Eminescu

The National Theater Mihai Eminescu was established on October 10, 1920 by a group of prominent Romanian cultural and public figures, led by the Minister of Bessarabia in the Government of Romania, Sergiu T. Niţă. The troupe worked only one season, delivering 25 performances. In 1935, by ministerial order, theaters in Chisinau, Craiova and Chernivtsi were closed for financial reasons. Although short-lived, the first National Theater in Chisinau has made an important contribution to the culture of Bessarabia.

In 1933, the Moldavian National Theater was founded in the capital of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, Tiraspol. After June 28, 1940, when the territory between the Prut and the Dniester rivers was incorporated into the Soviet Union, on the basis of the Tiraspol theater a new Moldavian State Theater was formed in Chisinau [then Kishinev]. In 1945, it was named after Alexander Pushkin. Shortly afterward, the majority of the Tiraspol troupe moved to Chisinau to join the local artists. The present building was constructed in 1954 and is now counted among the most treasured architectural monuments in the city. Designed by renowned architect Galadjeva, it boasts a grand neoclassic façade, which gives it a timeless appeal. The interior - credited to architects V.F. Alexandrov and V.P. Smirnov - is regal, elegant and opulent. With the walls painted with mural depicting ‘Hora’, and the balconies and lodges having ornate and delicate decoration, the interior of the theater is nothing short of splendour.

In 1994, the theater got the status of national and was renamed Mihai Eminescu. A new page in its history has been opened by talented young actors - students of renowned theater schools in Moscow, Tbilisi, Iasi and Chisinau.
The National Philharmonic "S. Lunchevici"

12) The National Philharmonic "S. Lunchevici"

The National Philharmonic of Moldova was founded in Chisinau in 1940 for the purpose of promoting musical creativity and artistry. Today, under the Philharmonic umbrella operate a number of symphonic music-, choral-, pop music- and dance ensembles. Among them the Symphony Orchestra of Moldova, the Academic Choir "Doina", the Folk Music Orchestra "Fluerash", the Academic Folk Dance Ensemble "Joc", the Folk Music Ensemble "Lautarii" and others.

The Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic has taken part in many international festivals in Romania, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Spain, and has successfully toured throughout the world. For its achievements the orchestra has been awarded the honorable title of "distinguished collective" of the Republic of Moldova.

The Philharmonic regularly organizes tours for soloists and groups around the country and abroad. During the Soviet period the number of its concerts would reach up to 4,000 a year.

In 2003, the National Philharmonic was named after Serghei Lunchevici, renowned Soviet violinist and conductor, who was also a great enthusiast and expert of Moldovan folk music.

The Philharmonic Hall is located in the city center. The building was reconstructed in 1960-62 by architect B. Wojciechowski. The main entrance is decorated with a remote six-column portico, giving the building an expressive and solemn look.

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.
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
Stefan cel Mare Blvd Shops

Stefan cel Mare Blvd Shops

It would be a pity to leave Chisinau without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of stores along Stefan cel Mare Blvd which offer unique gifts and souvenirs that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 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
Bernardazzi Architecture Walking Tour

Bernardazzi Architecture Walking Tour

Alexander Bernardazzi, the Russian architect of Swiss descent, was the chief architect of Chisinau from 1856 until 1878. His work marked the dawn of a new architectural era in the city. Although during his life Bernardazzi created more than 30 buildings, very few of them have survived until our days. This tour offers a unique opportunity to see some of the beautiful creations of Alexander...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 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
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: 4.8 Km or 3 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Chisinau Shopping Guide: 20 Moldovan Products to Take Home

Chisinau Shopping Guide: 20 Moldovan Products to Take Home

Once part of the Soviet Union, now independent Moldova is a small country sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, of which still very little is known. To mend this, the country has recently opened borders to the outside world. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity and acquaint yourself with...