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 Travelogues

Official Name

Бендеры (Bendery). That's the Russian name of the town - the Moldovan name is completely different: Tighina. The spelling Bender is often used as well. When traveling around Moldova, it's better to use [ Tighina ]. When traveling in the PMR, it's better to use the Russian name [Bendery].

Location

Location of Bendery
Bendery

Tighina is the one and only Transdniestran town on the right (western) bank of the river Nistru (Dniestr). This river separates the plateau in the west from the wide plain in the east. Bendery sprawls along the edge of the plateau. Right behind Bendery on the top of the plateau, there's the border between the →Republic of Moldova and the →PMR (Transdniestr). To →Chişinău to the west it's less than 60 km, to →Tiraspol it's around 10 km.

Population

About 125,000 inhabitants. The netto growth rate is negative. Therefore, Bendery is the second largest town of the →PMR and the fourth largest town of the →Republic of Moldova.

Orientation

Bendery is a large industrial town, with several factories in the outskirts and a few dull residential areas. It's also the gateway to Transdniestr, since one of the few bridges spanning the river Dniestr lies in the centre of town. The bridge is guarded by Russian peacekeeping forces, which check every vehicle superficially. Behind the bridge on the right side (as seen from the bridge) there's a fortress towering above the river and the plain, on the left there's the town itself. The trolleybus station is only 200 metres away from the bridge on the left. The main bus station is hidden in the town, but also not far from the bridgehead. The train station is further away to the west.

As many other towns in the area, Tighina has a chessboard-like grid of streets. Along the river bank, there are several small houses and allotments. The centre of town can be found on the corner of ул. Ленина (ul. Lenina, Lenin rd) and ул. Калинина (Kalinin rd). Not far from there you will find the large Колхозный рынок (Kolkhoz market). Generally spoken, the town is quieter but dirtier than →Tiraspol. Here and there, traces of the secessionist war in 1992 are visible, but most of the damage has been repaired.

Getting there / transportation

All buses and trains running between →Chişinău and →Tiraspol stop in Bendery, so there's no problem to get there and away. The ride to Chisinau takes around 1 hour, by bus it costs 7 rouble (€ 0.8). Additionally, trolleybuses No 1 and 19 connect the town with Tiraspol. This takes less than 30 minutes, the fare is 70 kopeek, to be paid on the bus. Additionally there are also direct buses to →Comrat and →Bălţi.

 

 

Actually, Bendery has a very interesting history. During the 14th century, a Genuese colony called Tigin was built here. Obviously, the Moldovan name 'Tighina' derives from the old Genuese name. In the 16th century, Ştefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great) erected a large fortress at Tigin. However, the fortress as well as the rest of Bessarabia was invaded by the Ottoman empire in 1538. The new rulers renamed the town Bendery. There are several theories about the meaning of the name. Some say it means 'belonging to the Turks', others say it might mean 'port'. In 1812, the Russian empire took over. Between the two World Wars, Bendery became a Romanian town and was renamed Tighina. Since 1944, it belonged to the Moldovan SSR. In 1992, Bendery became the main battlefield of the war between the secessionist Transdniestran (+Russian) army and the Moldovan army (see →History of the PMR). After the war, parts of the 14th Russian army remained in town, but it looks like Russia has withdrawn its army. Today, only Russian peacekeeping forces are stationed in and around Bendery to secure the precious but fragile peace.

War Memorial and Eternal Flame in Bendery
War Memorial and Eternal Flame in Bendery

The main attraction of the town used to be the large fortress right next to the bridgehead. Since 1992, the fortress seems to be abandoned. Before, it was used as a military base. Unfortunately, it's still closed to the public. And it's still a military object, which means that it's not recommended to take pictures - at least you should be really careful. The fortress is very time-worn and riddled with bullets.

Opposite the street and the bridge there's a new memorial park dedicated to the victims of the war in 1992. The small park at the riverside includes a tank, an eternal flame, a wall of fame and the usual stuff. In front of the park there's a large hoarding saying 'Слава тебе, ПМР', which means something like 'Glory to the PMR'.

Bendery (Tighina): Kolkhoz Market: No, you can't buy the scales!!!
Kolkhoz Market: No, you can't buy the scales!!!

Walk from the Memorial Park along ul. Kotovskii and pass the dull and dark apartment blocks on your right. When you turn into ul. Liazo, you will soon get to the large Колхозный рынок (Kolkhoz market). There, everything that is grown in the area as well as clothes etc are sold inside the hall as well as outside. But obviously the hall is too big for the town - wide parts are not used at all, leaving a somewhat sad impression. Marshrutkas (microbuses) run from the street in front of the market hall to all the villages in the vicinity.

Tighina (Bendery): The main church of the town
The main church of the town

Opposite the market hall stands the Преображенский собор (Preobrashenski Sobor, Church of the Transfiguration of Christ). It looks like the church has been restored only a few years ago. Surprisingly, service in the church is well frequented. Behind the church there's the grey, large city hall. In front of the city hall runs ul. Lenina, where several shops line up along the street. The shops mainly sell Transdnistran, Russian and Ukrainian products. For some reason, Moldovan products are rare.

The City Soviet (Council) of Bendery
The City Soviet (Council) of Bendery at ul. Lenina

Walk up Lenin rd westwards for a few minutes and you will get to the train station. From the market hall, ul. Sovietskaya leads northwards to the rundown bus station. Bendery is a rather rural town with little attractions, but it's still worth a stopover when traveling around the PMR.

 

 

There are two hotels in towns. As far as I've heard, it's not necessary to register with the local police when you stay in Bendery, but I'm not sure if this is true - at the border post they'll ask you whether you intend to stay overnight, so somehow you will have to register anyway. However, there's no real reason to stay overnight, since →Chişinău is very close. And there's still a curfew, so you shouldn't leave the hotel between 11 pm and 5 am.

 

Do you have or do you know a good website about Balti? Don't hesitate, let me know! After checking it, I would love to add it to the link list. You can submit a link by using the →contact form. Note that commercial websites will be treated differently.

 

 

 

 

 

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