5 days trip by car down from the north to the south of Moldova (continuation)

Stops at Briceni, Calarasheuca monastery, Soroca, Orheiul Vechi, Ivancha, Cricova, Chisinau / Kishinev, Tighina / Bender, Tiraspol, Noul Neamt, Cojusna wine cellar, Capriana monastery

Day 2

Soroca town

Soroca town is situated at 174 km northeast of Chisinau (2.5 h drive) at the right bank of the Dniestr river right on the border with Ukraine.

Transport: The Chisinau – Soroca route is served by the public transport company, from the "Gara de Nord" Bus Station in Chisinau by buses and microbuses at every hour throughout the day.

What to see:

Thanksgiving candle


Soroca fortress

Open daily: 9.00 - 18.00, lunch time 13:00 - 14:00, Wednesday - Sunday
Guided tours: available in Romanian, English, French, Spanish, and Russian
Phone: (373-230) 22264, 22493.
Entrance for children - 50 bani, for adults - 1 leu, for foreign visitors - 10 lei. Taking photos - 3 lei, filming - 10 lei.

Soroca fortress is one of the most outstanding tourist attractions in the Republic of Moldova. It is a well-preserved Middle Age fortress with stout stone walls right down by the riverside, intended to daunt unwelcome guests. It used to be part of a rather complex and important defensive system, which comprised 4 fortresses along the Nistru (Dniester) river in the East, 2 on the bank of Danube in the South, and three more to protect the North. A wooden outpost had initially been built in the place where it can be found today in the 15th century. However, in the period 1543 through 1546, the fortress was completely re-built in stone, giving it the shape one can see today – a perfect circle, the diameter of which is 37.5 m, having 5 bastions situated at equal distances. When designing the fortress the builders incorporated the supreme law of harmony “the golden section”, which makes the fortress unique among examples of European defensive architecture. Soroca fortress is the only medieval monument of Moldova that has been preserved entirely as it was designed by its builders. Depicted on most old forms of currency, on the backside of the current 20 lei (national currency of Republic of Moldova) bank note, and even on the backside of the Personal Identification Cards of the citizens of Moldova, the Soroca Fortress is obviously something that local people are proud of. Looking so gloriously redoubtable and sturdily impregnable outwardly and so securely inspiring within, it has long been a symbol of stability and confidence for the Moldovan people.

According to its architecture Soroca Fortress represents a gigantic tower with five smaller towers around it placed as the leaf of trefoil having 30,5 m in diameter, the thickness of walls – 3,05 m, the height – 18 m (inside) and 21 m (outside). Around the gigantic tower at equal distance four towers bastions with the height of 24 m and one rectangular (the entrance tower, the thickness of which is 2 m) are situated. The entrance tower consists of three levels: the entrance tunnel, the chapel and the watchtower. The towers bastions also have several levels: the parterre, where deposits have been; levels one and two, where the cannons have been placed (three cannons per each level); and the last level – top level, where the archers and defenders of the fortress have stayed. An enormous wooden gallery circled the walls of the gigantic tower, which has been used for the communication and habitation of the defenders. The towers have had a toilet, the two front towers have had also fireplaces at the first level. The garrison numbered 200 – 250 soldiers. The limestone, which predominates, the sandstone in combination with flint have been used as the material for the construction of the fortress. The mortar has been composed of lime and sand.

Among the hundreds of fortresses and castles scattered all over the territory of the old Europe, Soroca Fortress has resemblance with the Castle del Monte (Italy), the castles Queenborough, Walmer and Deal (Kent, Great Britain).

Soroca’s fortress is also famous for being the place where the Moldovan army, commanded by the famous statesman Dm. Cantemir, and the Russian army, led by the Tsar Petru I, met and consolidated their forces during the Prut campaign against the Turkish hordes in 1711. Along history, the fortress has been visited by Bogdan Hmelnitski, Timush Hmelnitski, Alexander Suvorov, and others. The fortress is the only medieval monument in Moldova, which has been preserved entirely as it was designed by its builders. Above the entrance gate one can visit the small military church. Visitors to Soroca can also visit the stone hermitage located in the Bechir canyons, which dates from the IX century; the "The hill of sedentary gypsies" – the gypsy quarter with its eccentric houses; the county hospital (XIX century); girls’ gymnasium (XIX century); the museum of the Soroca region; “T. Stratilat” church (XIX century, eclectic architecture); and "Adormirea Maicii Domnului" church (1842). Only 7 kms to the North lies a famous village of stonemasons.

Gypsy town

Soroca is considered the capital town of the gypsy community of Moldova. It is a big area at the north of Soroca situated at the highest hill of the town. Gypsies /romes / sinti / tigani live in huge "castles" most of them still in construction. Gypsies are considered rich in the town. Most of the young generation works in Russia to support their families in Soroca.



In the past gypsies lead a nomad's way of life in Moldova roaming from a village to other and sharpening knifes and other metal tools of the peasants and shoeing horses. But during the IIWW and later on during the collectivization times they were forced to give their horses to the army and to the state and this made this nomad people to settle down.

The architecture of their houses is outstandable. 2-3 floor houses, with columns and sculptures in the front of the house with silver or golden domelike roofs.

Gypsy families have many children. Few years ago an average family would have 7-10 children and nowadays it is 4-5. Women do not work. They stay at home and take care of the house and of the children. Men are out for earnings.

Gypsies look very friendly to foreign visitors and would talk with you with pleasure about their life, their king and the problematic life.

Museum of History and Ethnography

Situated on Independentei 68 street. Tel: (373-230) 22264, 22493.

The museum exposes about 25.000 samples - Archeological, Ethnographic, Art, Old books, Numismatics, Ancient weapons, Documents and photos, Furniture, Rod Furniture. Director of the museum and of the fortress is Nicolae Bulat.

Building of the Gymnasium (Lyceum) for Girls

Architectural monument of art and history. Built at the beginning of XX century (1903 -1916). Gymnasium was opened on 28th September 1900 as a Russian gymnasium with 3 grades. After 1918 it was transformed into Romanian lyceum and after 1944 – general school. In the present time it is the pedagogical college "Mihai Eminescu".

Church of Assumption of the Mother Christ

Cathedral of Soroca town, built in 1842 of stone by Costache Cerchez. It was built on the place of the church of Saint Nicolas, that was partly destroyed by an earthquake in 1804, and demolished completely in 1830. Closed during the Soviet times.

Church of Saint Andrei Solunschi

Built in 1827, founded by a noble family of Nicolae Cerchez, his wife Maria and their sons – Alexandru, Gheorghe, Constantin, Mihail Gavriil, Ioan, Soltana and Ioan. Made of stone with a priest house and a parish school (1922). Closed during the Soviet times.


Magic road / Safari

Orheiul vechi

Country house in Butuceni

Read next:

Day 3
~Cricova ~Chisinau / Kishinev

Day 4
~Tighina / Bender ~Tiraspol ~Noul Neamt

Day 5
~Cojusna wine cellar ~Capriana monastery

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