Tiraspol

Tank memorial in Tiraspol

Tiraspol is the capital and largest city in Transnistria.

You might enjoy a visit to the main street with its parliamentary building boasting relatively new Lenin and Stalin statues. Opposite, a T-34 tank from the Great Patriotic War era forms part of a monument which also contains soil from the pivotal battle of Stalingrad and, in the same square, a monumental warplane decorated with flowers. You probably won't miss the Soviet-style banners either!

Understand

Tiraspol has a relatively modern infrastructure. The state-run bus service is a simplistic, fairly accessible method of transportation operating at peak hours during the day, made up of trolleybuses and maxi taxis (the latter cost 3.50 rubles), you pay on board. Night-time operations were halted due to an increase in criminal drug trafficking, which became rampant on the bus system during the mid 1990s. Subsequent reforms by ex-President Smirnov and other officials enabled the bus system to remain open for at least the better part of the day, restoring a much needed public service to the Transnistrian population.

The Palace of the Soviets

Tiraspol is landlocked and is largely closed off from the outside world due to a lack of transcontinental infrastructure. There is neither an airport nor a seaport in Transnistria. The nearest international airport is located in neighbouring Moldova.

The local sewer system and electrical grid is state of the art. Recently adapted from models based in western Europe, the Transnistrian basic infrastructure was built in the mid 1990s after the profits gained after the war of independence in 1992.

Get in

There are regular bus and maxi-taxi services to Chişinău (40 rubles), Bender, Causeni, Odessa, and other Ukrainian and Moldovan cities. The main bus/train station is about a kilometre from the city centre and has clearly posted schedules. No visa or payment is officially required for EU, Moldovan or US citizens when staying for less than three days, but you must remember to register with the police unless you are just on a day trip. Visitors should note that they are highly likely to face demands for substantial bribes from the border guards either on entry or exit from Transnistria (or both). Despite official orders from the previous President Smirnov to act professionally and to decline such payments, bribery is rife and your passport may be destroyed if you do not pay. Indeed, you may be turned away from the border on the Moldovan or Ukrainian side if you are unwilling or unable to pay the border guards a bribe. To avoid this, ensure that you are not obviously carrying hard currency (therefore stash it away in carefully concealed areas on your person) as the border guards will check you thoroughly for it.

Beware that the combined bus/train station does not have a luggage depot.

See

Presidential palace
Tiraspol stadium

You can see most of what there is to see in Tiraspol by walking up and down October 25 St., the main street. There are several nice parks in the city, including the Culture Park near the university. This has abundant trees and a mixture of abandoned and enthusiastically used amusement park rides, and is a good place for people-watching. Most of the big monuments are at the south end of the city, about 2 km from the Palace of Soviets.

Do

Visit many Soviet monuments that remain in Tiraspol since the days of USSR. You may also want to visit the local drama theatre and local museums near the centre of the city. The war museum near the parliament is also quite interesting; note that foreigners have to pay ten times more than locals - 20 rubles. There are cheap boat tours on the Dniester which take about 30 minutes; just board the boat, the guide will collect the money after the ship departs (25 rubles).

Buy

In order to purchase goods, services or souvenirs in Tiraspol, or in any Transnistrian locale you must exchange your outside currency into Transnistrian rubles. The Transnistrian central bank sets their own exchange rate and prints their own money, so the number of rubles you will get on any given day for your euros varies significantly from week to week. Currency exchanges are everywhere, including inside many popular stores, and will change most local and major currencies. Some exchange booths will ask for your passport. You can't pay with credit or debit cards in Transnistria.

Eat

Drink

There are many shops and markets to purchase local food, drink and their famous Transnistrian Vodka drink commonly referred to as a "smirnovka" - appropriately named after president Igor Smirnov. Along the river downtown, a handful of bars and restaurants can be found, usually open till about midnight.

There are several large and modern discos in the centre. They are usually open until late, seven days a week. Tourists are rare and the few English speakers that might be around are often very happy to communicate with foreigners.

Sleep

Be aware that in some hotels hot water and showers are not standard. They often cost extra on top of the price of a basic room, although often no more than a few dollars on top of the base price.

A cheaper alternative to staying in a hotel is to rent a private apartment.

Go next

The last bus to Chişinău leaves at 18.35 from the main bus/train station. The bus timetable can be found at this website: . A taxi ride from the city centre to there costs 50 rubles (39 if you speak Russian without an accent) and the price for the bus will be 40 rubles. Bus tickets to Chişinău have to be bought inside the bus station, and not from the driver. There is an exchange office at the station.

If you miss the last bus, you can take a taxi to any place in Chişinău for USD30.

If you're heading the other way, there's a train to Odessa which leaves at 15:58 - and a bus to Kiev (if you ask nicely, the driver will let you go as far as the Ukrainian border where you can jump on a bus to Odessa) leaves around 16:30 - after that, there is no scheduled transport to the Ukraine; you might get lucky with a maxi-taxi, but don't count on it. if you get to the bus / train station too late, a taxi to Odessa will cost about USD50: a lot in local terms, but 80 miles for USD50 is a bargain by western standards, and is a lot less hassle than finding a place to sleep and getting an extension on your visa.

There is a bus to Odessa which leaves about 14:00. It should be booked earlier in the day if possible as it will only take as many passengers as can be seated and, as it starts from Bender, it can already be quite full when it arrives at the train-station in Tiraspol. Tickets for the bus can be booked in the train-station, and the bus leaves from outside it.

You may go to the Ukraine border by bus which goes to Pervomajsk (it has no railway station, but has a bus station near the park of Victory [park Pobedy in Russian] and swimming pool. Cross the border and take another bus in the direction you need. Besides, it's a bit cheaper.

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