Bendery Fortress (or Tighina Fortress) is situated in Transnistria, a region on the bank of the Dniester River, in the eastern part of Moldava. The citadel is considered the true evidence of the former power of the Ottomans because it was a part of their empire. Its ancient walls survived sieges, fires, storms and countless reconstructions. Being the military heritage of the country, it passed from the hands of one military power to other dozens of times. However, it continued to be one of the most indestructible strongholds in the whole region. Believe me - this place is worth visiting!
Bendery Fortress was built in 1538 by a Turkish architect called Sinan. It happened right after the unification of the Moldavian principality in the territory of the Ottoman Empire. The citadel survived a lot of important events related to the military history of the country: the Ottomans' conquests, endless wars, including the one between Russia and Turkey and the one in Crimea. Bendery stronghold was almost conquered by the Moldavian army in 1540, but the attempts were spent in vain. Again, the citadel was almost taken by the Moldovan-Cossack army and Zaporizhzhya Cossacks, but it still survived, having shown a huge resistance and unconditional strength. The inaccessibility lasted for about 200 years when only in 1770, the Russian army took Bendery Fortress. It was a victory even if Russians have lost one of the five troops during those attacks. Years later, on 16th of May 1812, after the signing of the Peace Treaty of Bucharest, the citadel was ceded to the Russian Empire. Nowadays, the stronghold belongs to Transnistria.
The fortress was made in compliance with the Western European style and represents a bastion. The territory of the citadel takes about 67 hectares (670000 square meters), its walls rise to almost 5 meters and have 6 meters in width. In some of the towers, that you can find inside, artisans, janissaries and gunsmiths once lived. There is also a church standing nearby the fortress. It is the Church of Alexander Nevsky, where on 12th of September 2008 the first worship was held. In general, the complex also includes two great historical museums - the Museum of history of Bendery stronghold and one with the medieval instruments of torture. Inside of the complex, you may also find souvenir shops, pneumatic shooting gallery and even the Walk of Fame of Russian military leaders. Outside, there is a monument dedicated to the Constitution of Philip Orlyk, and there, what may seem amazing, the bust of Baron Munchausen!
You can get to the citadel straight from the Tiraspol city, that is located in Transnistria too. You take the intercity trolleybus and go 30 kilometers to the Bendery city. If you decide to go from Chisinau, you need to take a bus to Bendery, come there, find a gas station "Tiras-oil", and then you will notice the signs that will help you to get to the citadel itself. Also, note the opening hours: daily, except on Mondays, from 9h to 18h in the summertime, and from 10h to 16h in the wintertime. The ticket costs 25 PRB (Transnistria rubles; it's about 1,39 euro) for adults, and they have a 50% discount for children, students, and beneficiaries. In addition, you can take a guided tour. They are available with an additional cost. It is worth seeing because nowadays Bendery Fortress, together with the Old Orhei complex, represents Moldova in the book of "100 most beautiful and amazing places of the USSR". As the military heritage and the strong citadel, Bendery Fortress keeps attracting people from all over the world, so just join them and come to explore Moldova from its best sides!
Cover picture © Credits to iStock/Pe3check
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