Historically, the Republic of Moldova was formed in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union across Europe. Its borders correspond to the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic - a Soviet satellite state created in the aftermath of the World War II and more archaically, the Principality of Moldavia, a Romanian territory forged in the 14th century. Today, scores of evocative sites conjure Moldova’s romantic past: mist-swathed churches and brightly painted Orthodox domes, commanding medieval fortresses and crumbling monasteries, as well as the ancient ruins of Dacian and Roman civilisations.
Since emerging as an independent nation, Moldova has been finding its feet and continues to face challenges into the 21st century. Economically, it is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Politically, it continues to flirt with communism. In eastern Moldova, along the lands bordering Ukraine, the Slavic territory of Transnistria has declared itself an independent state - although it enjoys backing from Russia, it is as yet unrecognised by the international community.
Despite the challenges of modern statehood, Moldova – a land rich in grape, fruit, vegetables, meat, milk and cereals – continues to be celebrated for its hospitality and rural traditions. The countryside plays host to a network of guesthouses where you can meet Moldovans and learn about local lifestyles, enjoy fresh produce and family recipes, or otherwise stock up on hand-made crafts. Moldovans are skilled weavers and embroiders, and also produce fine wickerwork, ceramics and musical instruments. But above all else, they are prodigious winemakers. Endless underground wine cellars and cavernous tasting rooms criss-cross the country. The Milestii Mici runs for hundreds of kilometres and houses the largest wine collection in the world. If anything, Moldova is a land of pleasant surprises.