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Stefan cel Mare Blvd Shops (Self Guided), Chisinau

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.
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Stefan cel Mare Blvd Shops Map

Guide Name: Stefan cel Mare Blvd Shops
Guide Location: Moldova » Chisinau (See other walking tours in Chisinau)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: Daniel
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Gemeni Department Store
  • Fantezia Specialty Shop
  • Nr.1 Supermarket
  • Artists' Square: Musical instruments
  • Aureola
  • Bucuria
  • Viorica Cosmetics
  • Franzeluta
  • Central Market (Piaţa Centrală)
  • UNIC Shopping Center
Gemeni Department Store

1) Gemeni Department Store

What to buy here: “Lăutarii Orchestra” Folk Music CD.

“Lăutarii” National Folk Music Orchestra is one of Moldova's greatest cultural achievements, which has been repeatedly recognized as the best folk music orchestra in the entire Romanian space. The term “Lăutar”, sg, is literally defined as a (semi) professional musician, who historically played one of the Moldovan traditional instruments and formed folk groups, also known as taraf-s. Lăutarii enjoyed great public recognition, however the most legendary figure is considered to be Barbu Lăutarul, who lived somewhere between 1780 and 1860, on the territory of historical Moldova (Iași, nowadays Romania). The orchestra was founded in 1970 by the beloved folklore singer, Nicolae Sulac. 1978 has been a lucky year for “Lăutarii”, when its leader became Nicolae Botgros, a complex and vigurous artist, an exceptional conductor and violin player. This famed musician had a tremendous contribution in helping the orchestra craft its artistic identity and distinguish itself as one of the greatest musical phenomena on Moldova's music scene.

“Lăutarii” have been seen and heard in thousands shows on the world's most prestigious arenas – Austria, Italy, Germany, France, Denmark, USA, etc. The orchestra has also accompanied many of Moldova and Romania's most known folk singers, gaining a wide recognition due to its unbeatable virtuosity, refinement and impeccable execution. “Lăutarii” is an expression of the nation's soul, which takes the listener through all the states and stages of life. Veritable folk jewels, such as “doina”, “hora” and “sârba” transcend the entire history of the Romanian space and transform every concert or audition into a celebration.

A CD with Moldova's finest festive folk music, featuring traditional dance music such as the world-known hora, sârba, ciuleandra or bătuta, guarantees a great party in Moldova's ardent, temperamental and authentic spirit and a deeper understanding of its core values and aspirations.

Many shopping centers in Chișinău have a specialized boutique with folk and modern music available for purchase. Located on 136, Stefan cel Mare Blvd, “Gemeni” department store has a lot of traditional folk music available. Their working hours are 10am to 8pm, weekends included.
Fantezia Specialty Shop

2) Fantezia Specialty Shop

What to buy here: Buzdugan (Mace) | Martisor | National carpets | Sheepskin hat | Table-clothing | Traditional costume | Traditional Dolls | Traditional Musical Instruments | Traditional Pottery (Wine Jug, Ungheni) | Wood Carving Works | Woven bag - Traistă | Woven baskets.

Moldovans' passion for working with wood can be explained in a number of ways. The most plausible reason being that wood is a very cooperative material, which can be used for countless purposes. Humans started working artistically with wood way before clay, wood being the first recipient of the prehistoric human's imagination prints.

Wood carving has always been a popular occupation among Moldova's oldest inhabitants, who passed this art from father to son with great pride and responsibility. As the decoration tools themselves are rather simple (axe, hatchet, chisel, penknife), and so are the techniques (incision, pyrography, encrustation, braiding, ronde-bosse technique), carving wood was accessible for anyone with brisk hands and a little imagination.

Most gift items of the kind are not actually carvings in wood, but a mere decoration of it. That doesn't mean however, that beautifully sculpted treasure chests, wooden dolls, masks and other decorative items cannot be found in Chisinau. Specialty shops and artist's squares abound in wooden spoons, bowls, vases and cutting boards which have transformed in the patient hands of the master from simple kitchenware to intricately-designed objects of art. Their rich ornamental motifs are also varied, from simple geometric forms (squares, circles, spirals, ropes) to vegetal ornaments (evergreen branches, leaves, flowers), anthropomorphic designs (the shepherd with his sheep) and cosmic representations (sun, moon, stars).

Traistă and desagi are the types of bags which were widely in use, back in the old days, in rural parts of Moldova for carrying food and other domestic items. Traistele (pl: knapsacks) were considered showy and more suitable for going out to the fairs/markets, whereas desagii (pl: saddlebags) had a more utilitarian function and were used mostly in day-to-day life.

The Moldovan national costumes go back centuries and have stayed unchanged throughout history. These costumes used to be entirely hand-made, and every young girl in the village was supposed to be able to weave cloth and do elaborate embroidery. The main garment for both men and women was cămasă or a white embroidered shirt made from hemp, linen or woolen fabric. It used to be tied around the waist with a fabric belt, narrow for women and wider for men. Similar in cut, cămasă differed in length, - those for women were usually ankle long whereas men's shirts were shorter and worn over trousers or leggings made from strips of fabric. Women always wore an apron over their cămasă.

Visit Fantezia Specialty Shop at 83 Stefan cel Mare Blvd (tel.+373-22-222475; open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, and on Saturday 10am-5pm) for a walnut treasure chest box to store all your most precious belongings or a traditional Moldovan Traistă to show off at the grocery store, as well as many, many other traditional items and crafts.
Nr.1 Supermarket

3) Nr.1 Supermarket

What to buy here: Walnut Jam | Chisinau beer | Negru de Purcari wine.

Established agricultural nation Moldova has long been known for its great fruit and vegetables.

Moldovan-made canned products, such as natural juices and nectars, jams, purees, marmalades and baby food are deservedly recognized both inside and outside the country.

As one of Europe's major exporters of walnut kernels, Moldova is also renowned for such fairly unique product as jam made of fresh green walnuts. A taste of this essentially Romanian thing, combining the sweetness and juiciness of a green walnut, will have you immerse into the intoxicating world of the Orient, bringing you the unique flavor and delightful crunchy, yet smooth, texture, fit to satisfy even the most exigent taste.

When the sweet tooth kicks in, feel free to explore the abundant line of Moldovan delights and try rose petals marmalade, quince jam, blackcurrant jam, pitted white cherry marmalade and chokecherry marmalade/jam available at all major grocery stores and supermarkets around the city, including Nr.1 on Stefan cel Mare Blvd. The average price of a jar is $12.
Artists' Square: Musical instruments

4) Artists' Square: Musical instruments (must see)

What to buy here: Traditional Musical Instruments. At the beginning of the XIX-th century, Chisinau already had a large folk orchestra. Its music was enjoyed by both peasants and aristocrats, although the latter were sometimes rather eccentric. For instance, Varfolomeu, a known aristocrat of the times, had a permanent orchestra playing in his house. No wonder why: the legendary Barbu Lautarul was highly regarded by Franz List himself, although neither he nor other folk musicians had any elementary musical upbringing. So the Moldovans must have music in their blood! And what a better way to express it, than using very melodic, sweet-sounding instruments?

Moldova's most popular and wide-spread musical instrument is the flute. Local folklore oftentimes associates flute playing with ancestral occupations, such as shepherding. A flute is a wooden aerophone instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across its opening, by partially or completely covering and releasing its 6 lateral holes.

The pan flute is another ancient musical instrument consisting of several pipes (around 20), of gradually increasing length. Like flutes, the pan flute is usually made out of reed or elder. Its pipes are closed with a wax cork on their bottom, having an open upper part, through which the player introduces air producing sound.

Another ancient flute-like wind instrument is the ocarina. Its name comes from the Italian word “ocarina”, diminutive for “oca”, which means goose. Ocarina was bestowed this name upon due to its oval shape, resembling a goose head. Ocarinas are available in all sizes and are usually made out of ceramic, clay, glass or even metal.

All these traditional instruments are richly decorated with traditional motifs, which make them fabulous decorative pieces. Find unique hand-made instruments down at the Artists' Square which is between V.Pircalab and M.Eminescu streets on Stefan cel Mare Blvd, sided by Eminescu Theatre and the Organ Hall, just behind the bus stop opposite the Mobiasbank head office.

5) Aureola

What to buy here: Locally made gold and silver jewelry.

Moldova isn't particularly known for its jewelry, as it doesn't have any natural reserves of precious metals or gemstones, but it does offer some gold and silver items produced by the Chisinau jewelry factory "Giuvaier". The store "Aureola" is where you can find many of their items in both gold and silver, all with official authenticity certificates and at acceptable prices. The store is located at 132 Stefan cel Mare Boulevard.

6) Bucuria

What to buy here: Moldovan chocolate and candy. Among several products Moldova has been renowned for particularly in recent history are the sweets made by local confectionery icon Bucuria. Established in 1946, this factory lives up to its motto "life is sweeter..." producing annually over 450 mouthwatering items: candies, biscuits, chocolates and chocolate bars, crispy waffles, and finger-licking delicious marshmallows, to mention but a few. One of Bucuria's most popular specialties is "Chişinăul de Seară" (Evening Chisinau). These chocolate candies are made of prunes with a classic chocolate coating on top and distinct bitter-sweet taste on palate. Chişinăul de Seară have been awarded several prizes at various international competitions, including I degree diploma and gold medal at the All-Russian "Confectionery of the XXI century" show, and the top prize and gold medal at the XV International exhibition ProdExpo-2008, held as a part of Best Product-2008 international contest in Moscow, Russia. Chişinăul de Seară and many other items from Bucuria's abundant range can be found at any of its specialized outlets scattered around the city.

The choice they offer is truly spoiling for a sweet tooth. “Meteorit”, “Doremi”, “Favorit” and chocolate coated fruits are particularly recommended. Prices range between 40 and 70 lei (EUR 2,5-5) per box. Bucuria's main store is located at 128 Stefan cel Mare Blvd, (working hours 8 am - 8 pm, Sunday 8 am - 5 pm).
Viorica Cosmetics

7) Viorica Cosmetics

What to buy here: Locally produced cosmetics.
Viorica Cosmetics has been operating since 1989 and is an acknowledged leader, as well as the largest producer, in the Moldovan cosmetic industry. The company focuses on natural ingredients, main ingredients being natural vegetal extracts and seed oils, applying as little chemicals as possible. The range of items includes facial skin care, body care creams, hair shampoos and balsams, flavored shower gels and soaps, men and women perfumes and more.

8) Franzeluta

What to buy here: Moldovan pastries.
Scattered all over the city, Franzeluta stores lure in shoppers with a sweet aroma of freshly backed loafs, crunchy rolls, and many other pastry products. The bakery lives up to its name (pronounced "franzelutsa" translated as "bun") and has an extended network of outlets. The head store is located at the intersection of Stefan cel Mare Blvd. and Armeana St. Although somewhat shabby and Soviet-like in appearance, the local cafeteria delivers quality and taste wrapped into one, so as to make up for the poor looks.
Central Market (Piaţa Centrală)

9) Central Market (Piaţa Centrală)

What to buy here: Traditional Sheepskin hat and woven baskets. Sheepskin hats - căciulă (pl. căciuli) - are worn in winter all over the Romanian space. Fur hats are made by furriers and are usually black, although white căciulă are also worn in central and northern parts of Moldova.

Back in the old days, almost every village had a skilled hat maker, capable of producing hats of the desired shape and size. There are four main types of căciulă: high conical cap, round low cap resembling a lampshade (consisting of two parts), caps made of a single piece of fur, and cylindrical fur cap with the top larger than the base.

The hats can be worn in many different ways: peaked, with top bent forward, back or sideways, or with top sunk inwards, depending on local fashion, age and social status. In the rain or snow, the sharp ends are turned upward. Hats with bent sharp tops used to be worn by young men at the wedding, whilst the elderly wore hats with bent round tops. The youth mostly wore gray hats, whereas the elderly preferred black.

For thousands of years people have used natural materials, such as straw, reed mace and osier, growing nearby their dwellings to make their living more comfortable. Archaeologists believe that the art of weaving considerably predates pottery and that the first ancient crocks were made of woven twigs and then daubed with clay and burned for extra longevity. Even today, in some villages in central and northern parts of Moldova the same ancient method is applied for constructing farm buildings: first they weave thick wicker walls and then cover them with several layers of clay mixed with straw. Such "wicker houses" are famous for their excellent heat-trapping abilities.

Along with houses and outbuildings our ancestors used similar techniques to produce household items: roofs, fences, furniture, rugs to cover earthen floors in the houses, vessels for storing and transporting food and drink, baby cradles, sleds and wagons, shoes, as well as baskets serving many different purposes. Without them the life of Moldovan peasant would be hard to imagine. These baskets were indispensable during harvest and long journeys. Back in the old days, practiaclly every villager in Moldova could, if need be, weave a basket, using simple techniques.

Methods of weaving a shopping basket vary depending on the shape, texture and decoration required. The most common method is to start weaving the basket bottom on a wooden board. After the bottom is finished, the board is removed is the work continues on a table.

Back in the early 1990s, weaving trade was almost on the brink of extinction in Moldova. However, in recent years it seems to have got the second wind with more and more weaving masters appearing at national and regional exhibitions, demonstrating their works made of straw, reed mace, osier and corn leaves. There is a growing public interest for these products, too. Chisinau's Central Market situated between Armeneasca and Tighina Streets, Stefan cel Mare Blvd and Mitropolit Varlaam Street offers a substantial choice of weaved baskets and other household items and souvenirs. Also worth checking out is the nearby UNIC supermarket and Fantesia gift shop on Stefan cel Mare Blvd.

Tuesday-Sunday: 6:00-18:00
UNIC Shopping Center

10) UNIC Shopping Center

What to buy here: Martisor | National carpets | Traditional Dolls | Traditional Pottery (Wine Jug, Ungheni) | Wood Carving Works | Woven baskets.

Moldova is often times depicted as a beautiful young girl wandering the wheat fields with a jug of wine on her shoulder. The jug is usually painted in vivid, bright colors, featuring Moldova's blue rivers, green fields, red flowers, yellow wheat and sunflower fields. All of these, are embossed on pots in simple ornaments consisting of lines, dots and circles. This unique and original way of representing nature is what distinguishes the art of Moldovan potters and their one-of-the-kind technique.

Pottery is one of Moldova's oldest traditions, dating as early as the Stone Age. Ungheni area is famous for its archaelogical findings: numerous remarkably preserved artifacts of the Cucuteni-Tripolie culture, belonging to the V-IVth millenim B.C were discovered here.

One of the most wide-spread decoration technique was using a bull's horn having on its narrow end a goose feather. Through the horn, paint would slowly linger to its end onto the goose feather, making it a great instrument for applying all natural colors.

Pot-making was at first destined to meet the household's needs, but later became largely used for decoration purposes and religious rituals. Any peasant's household numbered a myriad of pots, including extremely large bowls where food for religious holidays was prepared, different jugs, plates, mugs, vases, statues, flutes and even toys. Some local dishes originate their name in the type of the pot used in making. For instance, Ghiveci, a traditional Moldovan recipe is prepared in a closed ceramic bowl, roasted in the oven.

Just as pottery, carpet making is a fundamental part of artistic identity of the Moldovan people, clearly reflecting their aesthetic views and, above all, helping to understand their vision of beauty and harmony. Moldovan carpet making is deeply rooted in the ancient times and through centuries has absorbed many influences: Thracian, Roman, Slavic, Turkish.

The oldest surviving Moldovan carpets date back to the late 18th century, whilst the mention of the locally made kilims, carpets and bedspreads (cergi, macate, laicere) can be found in 15th-16th century deeds of gift and dowry inventories.

Centuries-old traditions and skills of yarn dyeing have contributed to the creation of soft tones so typical of Moldovan carpets. In the 17th-18th centuries, regional differences in carpet making began to show. Up north and in central parts of Moldova carpets were made on vertical looms with extensible frames (razboi, druci, virstat), whereas in the south, an ancient type of loom with a fixed frame was used. Moldovan-made long-hair carpets (cerga, niturca, satranca) are similar in technology to the oriental pile carpets. A distinctive feature of these rugs is that the weft is attached to the base by nodes and the fluffy cover is created on the surface.

Find pots, bowls and jugs of all sizes and colors at the UNIC shopping center. Not a cooking fan? Then, simply bright up your house with one of Moldova's finest carpets, traditional doll or wood cravings. Prices start as little as $1 for a simple jug, but could climb up to $500 for a full size carpet.

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
Chisinau Introduction Walk

Chisinau Introduction Walk

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...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Stefan cel Mare Blvd Walk

Stefan cel Mare Blvd Walk

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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
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
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

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...