The capital of Transnistria, a breakaway state in Moldova, Tiraspol is steeped in Soviet history and is a fascinating place to visit for anyone keen to escape the well-trodden tourist trail.
Transnistria’s second largest city could well the dictionary definition of ‘austere’. But that’s not to say you won’t find plenty to enjoy here, with its evocative Soviet-era buildings and landmarks, and smattering of attractions. The city even has its own high-achieving football team. If you’re seeking an unusual travel experience, we’ve sought to whet your appetite by highlighting 7 of the most unique things to see and do in Tiraspol.
Marvel at some classic Soviet architecture
Such is the ubiquitous presence of Soviet buildings in Tirasol that it can feel almost like you’re in an open-air museum. Many of these edifices are along the city’s main avenue, including the House of the Soviets and the presidential palace, both of which remain guarded by statues of Lenin, the iconic 20th century revolutionary and politician. But it’s not just municipal buildings from this era that remain untouched; many residential flats and abandoned factories also continue to serve as a remnant of the city’s tumultuous past.
Take a tour of a historic cathedral
The biggest and most important Russian orthodox church anywhere in Transnistria, the architecturally striking Christmas Cathedral, painted in Byzantine style, is a relatively new addition to the cityscape, having been constructed at the very tail end of the 20th century. Located in the city centre, it is as beautiful inside as out, and is open to the public every day of the week. However, be aware that photos are not permitted.
Strada Șevcenco / Mon-Sat 7am-5pm Sun 6am-5pm
Dine at the best restaurant in town
It’s fair to say that Eastern Europe is not widely considered the high water mark for gastronomy on the continent. But nonetheless the region still has its own rich culinary heritage and nowhere in Tiraspol is this showcased better than Kumakek. Housed in a charming building with wooden window shutters, the eatery is perhaps the city’s stand-out dining establishment, thanks to its traditional, home-cooked Ukrainian-style dishes served with a Transnistrian twist. Be sure to try the borsht and the vareniki.
Strada Sverdlov 37
Join in with Independence Day celebrations
Unsurprisingly given that the event in question took place just over 30 years ago, the annual Independence Day celebrations remain a big deal in Transnistria. In Tiraspol they are passionately held, albeit heavily militaristic in theme, with an exhibition of tanks and a military parade among the eye-catching pageantry. There’s also local food and traditional dance performances, culminating with a large concert with fireworks, making this both an entertaining and thought-provoking occasion for anyone visiting Tiraspol.
Venues across the city / 2 September
Discover how cognac is made
Eastern Europe and spirits go together like England and fish & chips. In Tiraspol, the Kvint Winery and Distillery has been keeping the natives well oiled for over 120 years with its production of high quality cognac, as well as wine, brandy, vodka and gin, all made possible by the region’s unique climate and fertile soil. The distillery holds regular tours and includes a comprehensive look around the facility’s production areas and a full degustation session. Pricing is determined by the length of the tour you choose and the quality of alcohol served.
Lenin Street 38 / Mon-Fri 8.15am-5.15pm Closed Sat-Sun
Catch a thrilling soccer match
In 2021 Sheriff Tiraspol made history by becoming the first ever Moldovan side to reach the group stages of the prestigious UEFA Champions League, the pinnacle of European soccer. Founded in 1997, the club has enjoyed a trophy-laden spell since its formation, and draws large crowds to the 13,000-capacity Sheriff Stadium. For most games, a number of tickets are made available to the public, meaning that football fans visiting the city have the chance to watch the team in the flesh.
Sheriff Stadium, Strada Karl Liebknecht 1/2
Visit a caviar-making facility
Almost as indelibly linked with Eastern Europe as spirits is the decadent delicacy of caviar. Anyone with an interest in how the delectable roe from wild sturgeon is produced can visit Aquatir Sturgeon Complex, the second largest sturgeon breeding facility in the world located right here in Tiraspol. Tours must be arranged in advance, and if you don’t have time to join one, you can pick up some of your own caviar in a number of Tiraspol shops at affordable prices.
Sovetskaya Street 1 / Mon-Fri 8.30am-5.30pm Closed Sat-Sun