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Tiraspol, Moldova

Introduction

Tiraspol is the capital of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic, an unrecognized, self-proclaimed "country," which is technically a part of Moldova and is the land in Moldova's east, stretching along much of the country's border with Ukraine.

The name "Tiraspol" is derived from the Greek, which named the city after the river on which it sits. This river, today known as the Nistru River was called the Tyras River by the Greeks and their name for a city, Polis was combined to form Tiraspol.

History & Background

Tiraspol has a short history in many ways; a town on this fairly flat land was founded in about 600 BC by the Greeks, but it was little more than a village until the 1700s when it fell under Russian control, after which point it quickly grew into a true city.

In the town's early history it switched hands from the Greeks, to Romans, Ottoman Turks, and more. During much of this history Tiraspol was little more than a village and little changed no matter the ruler although people came and left with each, making the city quite diverse.

In 1792 the Russians, who were fighting the Ottoman Turks for the region, finally took control of the town under the direction of General Alexander Suvorov, and the small village began growing into a true city as it is today. The Russians set up fortifications and set up numerous government operations in the 1800s to secure this, their western border.

Unlike much of modern day Moldova west of the Nistru River, Tiraspol and much of modern day "Transnistria" were continuously under Russian rule throughout the 1800s and 1900s. With the founding of the Soviet Union, Tiraspol (unlike most of Moldova) was immediately incorporated into this new country. In 1929 the city gained more power as it became the capital of what later became known as the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic.

By 1940 World War II had engulfed the region, shifting all of modern day Moldova to the Soviet Union and the shift of the capital from Tiraspol to Chisinau. After being taken by Nazi Germany, the city and region was later re-taken by the Soviet Union, under whose power the city and country remained until the Soviet Union's collapse.

Under Soviet rule the city and region as a whole was the recipient of both industrialization as well as Russian and Ukrainian immigrants. Although the city was already primarily Russian and Ukrainian, during this time these Slavs gained a larger and larger percentage of the population.

In the early 1990s Tiraspol and many other areas and cities in what is today Transnistria resisted Moldova's moves to introduce Moldovan as the only official national language and to break away from the Soviet Union. The Russian and Ukrainian majority living in Tiraspol led a civil war to break away from Moldova as the Soviet Union was falling.

With the assistance of a huge Soviet military arsenal in the city and numerous defecting soldiers, the Transnistria army won a war with Moldova and establishing Tiraspol as the country's capital, with the country's official name being "Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic". This move has yet to be recognized by any country in the world although in practice Transnistria functions as its own country with their own currency, border and customs control, and government. Today Tiraspol continues to act as the capital of this unrecognized state.

Tiraspol Today

Tiraspol continues to be dominated by the ethnic Russians and Ukrainians and it is these people that dictate the way of life in Tiraspol. Although Russian, Ukrainian, and Moldovan are all official languages, Russian is the primarily means of communication. Most of the people also subscribe to Russian Orthodox or Ukrainian Orthodox is they follow any religion at all.

Other aspects of the culture in Tiraspol are also reflective of the city's majority as Russian and Ukrainian foods are common. Vodka, beer, and cognac tend to be more popular among these Russians and Ukrainians, although wine is generally favored by the Moldovan minority.

Historical & Architectural Sights

House of Soviets (Дом Советов/Dom Sovetov): The building, in which the Transnistrian government convenes, is not open for tours, but has a striking appearance as a statue of Lenin guards its exterior. It is important to note that technically it is illegal to take pictures of government buildings in Transnistria, but the enforcement of this depends on who is working that day and if you are actually caught photographing the building.

Kvint Wine & Cognac Distillery: This distillery is well known throughout Moldova as it is considered the best cognac producer in the country. The distillery offers numerous tastings and has a shop to purchase their wine or cognac at greatly reduced prices. For more information their website is: www.kvint.biz

Monuments

Central Square (Центральная Площадь/Centralnaya Ploshad): The central square is dominated by a statue of Alexander Suvorov, the Russian general who took the city and region for the Russian government in 1792.

Memorial of Glory/Glory Square (Славы Площадь/Slavy Ploshad): This park just across the street from the House of Soviets has an interesting collection of memorials from wars past. Some of the memorials include a Soviet tank, WWII memorial, an eternal flame guarding the unknown soldier, and more, including the War of Transnistria to gain de facto independence.

Transportation

Tiraspol isn't the best transportation hub as there is no airport in the city and both train and bus routes are limited. The major train lines move from the west, coming from Chisinau to the east, splitting both north and south to Odesa, Ukraine as well as Kyiv, Ukraine. Bus routes are more reliable and offer more options. The most common routes are to and from Benderi, Chisinau, and for international routes, Odesa is the easiest city to reach.

Airport: Tiraspol doesn't have an airport; the closest airport is the Chisinau International Airport located about 44 miles (70 kilometers) from Tiraspol. The airport code is KIV and the airport's website is: www.airport.md. For its location or directions, see the map below.

Train Station: Tiraspol's main train station is located in the heart of the city. For its location or directions, see the map below.

Bus Station: Tiraspol has two main bus stations and both are located in the center of the city. One is at the train station and the second is about 1/2 mile (1 kilometer) to its southeast. For their locations or directions, see the map below.

Local Transportation: Tiraspol has both local buses as well marshrutkas, which are similar to large vans servicing the city. The local transportation doesn't have an official website, however locals (who speak English) are generally willing to help out and the services are similar to public transportation in most major cities throughout Europe. Taxis are also available in limited numbers, but few drivers speak English.

Official Websites

Transnistria: www.vspmr.org (known locally as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic)
Republic of Moldova: www.moldova.md

Maps & Directions

This page was last updated: November, 2012