Pohrebea Village

Many have heard about the moldovan hospitability, but few know where to search for it when they plan to visit Moldova. A place with such a treasure can easily be found towards the north-east of the country, just 38 km’s from Chisinau on the left side of Nistru river. The village is named Pohrebea and it hosts a population of 700 people. Despite sounding like it is part of Transnistria due to being on the left shore of Nistru river, it actually is part of Moldovan territory. But only a very few kilometres from it’s entrance it has the Transnistrian border control and a fair share of history.

DSC00803

The history of the village starts from the 1769, the year when it was first recorded. The first settlers where refugees of the Moldovan principality which were under tumultuous times due to various wars and constant changing of rulers. The name of the village can be traced from a legend saying that the settlers were moved from the Pogrebeni village during the war. As a majority of them were of russian origin and they had the tendency to build their houses in the shape of cellars (cellar being called “pogreb” in russian), the name came up from their building style, initially “Pogreba” and then later turning into Pohrebea. Nowadays the village has a variety of styles in regards its houses, with some having even a cellar in the hill accompanying the village.

The two things that this village is mostly famous for, is the destroyed church and the island in the middle of the river. The church is named Saint Aleksei, in the name of the son of the russian tsar Nikolay II. It is said that his son was sick from a young age and he was seeking ways to cure him. Upon visiting a monk he was told to build a few churches across certain locations, Pohrebea being one of them. Despite not curing his son, the church has survived to this day including two major wars.

DSC09400

In august 1944 during World War II Moldova was a major battle front. During the operation Iasi – Chisinau, the church was used as a fortress by both the nazi and the russian troops. To this day the scars of the battle can be seen in the walls of the church as many bullet holes are left. The top of the church was also blown leaving it up to this day an open space. As in Soviet Union religion was forbidden, the church was transformed into a deposit and then later in 1992 during the Transnistrian war it was used again as a fortress. The only difference was that this time the bullets were coming from the other side of the shore! With no money for restoration the church has been left in the same condition since these bloody events, reminding the villagers daily of them.

Looking at the brighter side, Pohrebea has something unique – an island in the middle of the river. But it’s not the island itself that makes it special, but the inhabitants on it! It ain’t called the “Cow’s Island” for nothing… and yes, you’ve read that right! This island is inhabited by the cows of the villagers throughout the warmer seasons. Just as the water gets warmer in spring, the cows are taken to the island by swimming and are left there until mid-autumn. Then three times a day, every single day the women are rowing the boat to the island in order to milk the cows and bring it to the village. They are more than happy to do this as they claim that the milk comes out much better and the cheese much tastier. This curious activity has even raised some interest in the local filmmakers which are shooting a documentary at the moment about it.

But besides these things it is the atmosphere of the village that makes this place special. A quiet journey into the moldovan village life where everyone will greet you on the street despite seeing you for the first time in their life. A peek into the local shop will take you in soviet union as nothing has changed since, except the currency and the food products. While exploring the paths around various courtyards, you will end up either up on the hill or down by the river shore where you can watch the locals working on their fields.

And if you wish to experience a local way of life, you can stop by at Alex’s house, the warmest person who is open to receive guests including overnight. Unlike most of the young people that move away from countryside, Alex choose this lifestyle consciously. Alongside his two dear dogs he is spending most of his time here working for the community, but also pouring his love into the Earth growing a variety of  vegetables, fruits and herbs. Hikes along the river, seasonal plant picking, working in the garden, local homemade wine and food tasting or even milking a cow are things that he can offer if you come to visit him. Not to forget discovering the local fauna and specific night time tours are also available! From july also happily providing overnight stays in his traditional moldovan house. In order to find out about the availability or to get in touch with him, you can do so through our contact page or reach him directly on this facebook page.

In regards reaching Pohrebea, there isn’t much of a difficulty as there is a direct minibus that leaves from the central bus station in Chisinau every hour from 8am until 6pm. The return route towards the capital is narrower, with the last bus leaving at 4pm from Pohrebea. The cost of a ride is 20 lei (1 euro) and it takes around 45 minutes drive. Ofcourse hiring a tour guide, driver or renting a car is also possible. In case that you choose to go by public transport, go a bit earlier to get a seat as the bus can fill quickly and it may not be most comfortable to be standing, especially in the summer heat!

Art Galleries in Chișinău

Finding some art in Chișinău is not that hard, especially that most of the galleries are situated in the centre of the city. Here is a list of places to sweeten your eye with local artworks or exhibitions.

 

National Art Museum

The one and only National Art Museum in the country which stretches it’s treasures in 3 buildings with stunning historic architecture. The museum hosts over 39,000 pieces of art which are of moldovan, romanian, russian, turkish, asian origin dating from 15th up to 20th century. You can find thematic or international exhibitions taking place too. A must see for culture diggers!

Open: Tuesday – Sunday

10:00 – 18:00 (april to october)

10:00 – 16:30 (november to march)

Entrance fee: 10 lei, free for everyone on last weekend of the month

Gallery guiding: in Romanian or Russian the price is of 50 lei, a tour in English is 100 lei.

Address: str. 31 August 1989, nr. 115,  Chişinău,  MD-2012

 

 

Galeria Constantin Brancusi

Opened since 1990, this gallery is under the tutelage of Union of Artists from Moldova. They host a variety of exhibitions, from local artists up to college or university students final works.

Open: Monday – Sunday 10:00 – 17:00

Entrance fee: 5 lei

Address: Blvd. Ștefan cel Mare și Sfînt 3, Chișinău 2001, Moldova

 

 

Galeria OU

The newest gallery in the city with a twist! Have you ever been to a gallery that it’s in a cellar? If you haven’t, then you have to visit it! Created by local artists to spice up a bit the alternative and young scene, as well to promote local talents through monthly events and exhibitions. For 200 lei you can buy one of the eggs at the entrance which each contains a piece of art Made in Moldova which is one of a kind!

Open: Monday – Saturday 12:00 – 16:00 (closed in winter)

Entrance fee: Free

Address: str. Sciusev 79, Chișinău

 

 

Gallery Alexander

A gallery shop where you can find authentic moldovan artworks of different styles and types of art. A warm atmosphere and amazing pieces of art guaranteed!

Open: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 – 19:00

Entrance fee: Free

Address: str.  Bănulescu-Bodoni 41, Chișinău

 

Galleria 73

This is a concept store which exhibits, promotes and sells contemporary Moldovan art. The stylish interior and the exhibited works take you out of the mundane world into a world of wonder, colour and magic.

Open: Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 19:00

Entrance fee: Free

Address: str. Mihai Eminescu 41/1

 

Zpațiu/ Zspace

An alternative space specifically dedicated to the independent art scene from Moldova. Every month they organise different exhibitions, installations and performances. Besides shows, they offer as well workshops and lectures with international artists. Zpațiu can be visited mostly when a show is on, so for that please check their Facebook events page.

Open: when a show/ exhibition is on

Entrance fee: Free

Address: str. Sciusev 103 (inside the Muzeul Zemstvei, turn right on the hall)

 

 

10 Must See! wineries of Moldova

Asconi

Since 1994 Asconi winery has been impressing everyone with it’s quality and the currently owned 400 hectares of vineyards. Situated only 40km from Chisinau, they cultivate Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet – Sauvignon and Muscat Ottonel. Besides their wines, they offer the opportunity to discover how their wine is made by providing tours which start with the visit of the vineyards, following the process of wine making and ending with wine tasting accompanied by traditional moldovan food.

Purcari

purcari

The oldest winery of Moldova founded in 1827 is situated 120 kms from Chisinau in one of the best regions of the country, closest to The Black Sea where the land is most fertile and full of nutrients. Purcari is mostly known for it’s red wines and especially the Negru de Purcari and Rosu de Purcari. A visit to the winery offers you tours with guides, wine tasting, restaurant which offers moldovan and french cuisine, a shop to buy their fine wines and even hotel service – 8 rooms for those interested to spend overnight.

Mimi Castle

The one and only castle of Moldova built by the last governor of Moldova has opened it’s doors again after the reconstruction. Not only it’s a castle, but it’s a local winery too! A variety of wines are open to be discovered in their tours which are still made after the old technique of the governor. Booking required for their tours.

Cricova

cricova

The most famous winery of Moldova and considered a national treasure, is the second largest winery of the country. It has over 120 km’s of tunnels where different kinds of fine wines and collections are being kept – over 1 million wine bottles. From moldovan, french, spanish up to private collections of Vladimir Putin and the nazist General Goring. The oldest being a Easter Jewish wine from 1902. Visiting Cricova is very easy as they are only 12kms away from the capital. An upfront booking is required for their tours and wine tasting.

Chateau Vartely

45 km’s away from Chisinau can be found the Chateau Vartely winery which is famous for it’s catering services besides their wines. They offer their venue for private parties, weddings and have more than 8 rooms for overnight stay. In order to visit their winery, a booking is required. Upon request they offer guided tours to their vineyards too. As well for those that don’t understand much in wine, you can participate in their wine masterclasses. This is the perfect destination to enjoy a relaxed time in nature.

Milestii Mici

The largest winery of Moldova boasting with 200 km’s of underground tunnels, is included in the World Guiness Book for it’s massive wine collection of over 2 million bottles. Visiting Milestii Mici requires a car and a tour booking. Different packages can be found on their website which offer from just the general tour of the winery, food included up to VIP service and degustation of the finest and oldest wines.

Et cetera

The newest winery of Moldova which is family owned by two brothers, is situated 130 km’s away from Chisinau and 10 km’s further from Purcari. This is the perfect place to visit if you’re interested to see a winery on the low scale of production, as they bottle up to 10.000 bottles of each type of wine per year. Their collections vary from Traminer, Chardonnay up to the Negro Amaro, Petit Verdot and Saperavi. Their services include a guided tour which shows the whole process of the production and includes wine tasting in their winery or vineyards. For extra charge, delicious traditional food can be served.

Cellars of Branesti

branesti

Close to Old Orhei settlement, 55 km’s away from Chisinau in the beautiful forests can be found the cellars of Branesti. 60 metres under and 50 km’s of tunnels of this winery are actually one of the less known and visited of Moldova. They contain 2 rooms for wine tasting which offer from traditional up to collection wines, as well as sparkling wine. Upfront booking required for their tours. Lunch can be included in the package.

Chateau Cojusna

15 km’s away from Chisinau in a medieval style themed room you can try out the less known Chateau Cojusna wines. Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are one of their well known types. Besides wine, they make great cognac too. To try out their collections you need to book upfront. Lunch can be included upon request.

Kvint

bani_1d3959a20d688f650693639303729b61

If you’re visiting Transnistria (yes that little autonomous area in Moldova), make sure to stop at the Kvint distillery in Tiraspol. Originally produced only vodka, but from 1938 it started producing Brandy and later on wine. Nowadays it is known for its high quality products produced by the traditional french method. The distillery offers tasting, tours and a shop to buy some of their treasures. Situated 78 km’s from Chisinau.

 

Milestii Mici Winery

 

 

Most people know that Moldova is famous for it’s wine, but not many know that it holds the record for the largest wine collection in the world! And this collection is stored at the Milestii Mici Winery Cellars which are found at the borders of Chisinau. The cellars stretch over 200km, with 55km being currently in use.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

To visit the wineries, a car and booking a tour is necessary. If you are visiting Moldova without a car and don’t know anyone, do not worry – many agencies offer trips to the winery. The tours are available in romanian, russian and english.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

The tour itself takes about 40 minutes and it consists of driving and walking around the cellars. For those wishing to taste the wine the tour takes longer. Just keep in mind, because the cellars are underground, it is quite cold. The temperatures vary between 12-16 degrees, so make sure to take a jacket.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Once the tour around the winery has been finished, you are taken to their restaurant area where you can try out the wine and moldovan food.   *Please keep in mind that you need to order the package with wine and food included if you wish so, because the most basic tour comes without!

You have quite a wide range of choice when it comes to their packages as many offer different options. You can try  just 2 types of wines, 4 or more, different food choices including vegetarian (which is actually vegan!) or no  food or wine at all. The prices vary depending on your choices and even if you do not finish drinking the whole bottle (or bottles), you can take it away with you!

Price wise, i would say the money are worth it! As a local i found the tour very interesting and the wine amazing – and i’m not a wine drinker, but their Rose wine has totally turned me into a lover!

The basic tour without any tasting or food costs about 10 euros. The vegetarian package (pictured above) i chose cost me approx. 22 euros which included degustation of 4 wine types besides the food.

So if you’re looking to discover one of the gems of Moldova, head to the Milestii Mici!

You can find info, book a tour or see their package options on this page.