Thursday, March 31, 2011
It was dusk when we arrived in Bender. By the time we left, it was dark, and we could see the moon over the Fortress.
If it weren't getting so dark, I would have been tempted to explore this underground tunnel. (I always had a flashlight in my purse when living in Moldova - and even packed it for this trip - but for some reason did not have it with me)
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Here you can see the Bender Fortress as we approached from bridge, departing Tiraspol. And the bumpy road leading to the Fortress.
There is a Russian military barracks/facility next to the Fortress, so this area is not designed for tourists.
The site was first mentioned as an important customs post in a letter by Alexandru cel Bun on October 8, 1408 (our wedding anniversary! several hundred years later). Stefan cel Mare built a fortress here in the late 1400s to protect against the Tartars. In 1538 the Ottoman Sultan Suleman the Magnificent conquered the fortress and renamed it Bender, meaning 'Belonging to the Turks'; in 1770 it was seized by the Russian Army. (Along with Bessarabia, it became a part of the Russian Empire in 1812, part of Romania in 1918, part of Soviet Union in 1941 - then taken back by Romania during WWII - then part of the Soviet Union in 1944, and then part of Moldova in 1991)
Due to its strategic location, the bloodiest fighting during the 1992 military conflict took place in Bender. (Though it is on the west bank of the Nistru River, it is under the control, for all intents and purposes, of Transnistrian authorities.)
We drove by the Russian peacekeepers (and tank) on our way out of town.
A picture of this fortress is on the back side of the 100 MDL note.
See http://www.moldova.md/en/istorie/2913/ for more information
Here you can see street lights and, on the poll, loudspeakers. During Soviet times they were used for radio broadcasting all over the territory of the USSR.
My friend told me about Yuri Levitan, and his famous broadcast announcing the start of the Great Patriotic War.
In my next post I will include a youtube videos of Levitan announcements, which begin, "Vneemaniye! govorit Moskva!" ("Attention! Moscow is spaking!")
This is the Nistru River, which geographically separates Transnistria from the rest of Moldova
These locks are placed on the bridge by couples who then throw away the key into the river, symbolizing that they will be together forever. How romantic!
This is a Soviet-era vending machine
A billboard featuring a photo of Transnistrian President Smirnov with Russian President Medvedev
A timecapsule to be opened in 100 years, which would be 2017
The banner on this building reads something like, Our Strength is to be together with Russia
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
This plaque marks the building as the headquarters of the cavalry brigade, civil war hero General Kotovsky. The plaque declares that on February 12, 1920 this brigade freed Tiraspol.
Here we are sitting at the very desk in the room where Kotovsky drew up battle plans.