Author: Marinel Kuznetsova
We recently visited Gagauzia as part of a cultural and educational group tour with local youth organisations. Our wider trip’s objective had been to observe the day-to-day workings of the public sector throughout Moldova, and as such we simply could not miss an opportunity to visit the autonomous region of Gagauzia. Moreover, we have friends there 🙂
Gagauzia is an autonomous republic in the south of Moldova, with an area of 2000 km. More than half of the population is Gagauz, however the common language spoken in the region is Russian. Therefore, for travellers from post-Soviet countries, communicating with local residents is straightforward — you do not need a translator.
Acquaintance with Gagauzia, as a rule, begins from the city of Comrat, its capital. Already at the entrance to the city on the hill you will be met by three wind generators. This is a warning that wind is a permanent feature of the area. Therefore, do not be fooled by the city’s southern location; because of its climatic features, the steppe and the dry winds, it is always colder in wintertime here, and in the summer heat the wind is especially noticeable. So that the weather does not spoil the mood, you should choose the right wardrobe!
Comrat is a relatively small city and this has its advantages. All sights and cultural highlights are located in the center and close to each other, which greatly simplifies travel logistics. Within half an hour you can take in two city squares with fountains, take a traditional selfie with the large “I love Comrat” sign, and visit a souvenir shop. Lenin still stands on one of the squares. It is possible that such relics of the past will soon become scarce in this region, so for a European tourist a selfie with Lenin will be rather exotic :). We, Ukrainians, were just once again reminded of the past.
For lovers of painting and culture, an art gallery and a library are conveniently located in the same building. Covering only one floor, from the realm of books you find yourself in the world of fine art. And you do not need to spend money on public transport to get from one place to another, as in other capitals.
Since the Gagauz are ancestors of the Turkic peoples, Turkish culture here has its own parallel significance. As a result, in addition to the traditional Gagauz library in Comrat there is also a Turkish one, as a symbol of friendship between nations and a common historical past. Employees of both libraries are friendly to tourists. On request, a verse will be read to you here in Gagauz, Turkish, and Moldovan — they will also offer an introduction to the history and show valuable copies of books. Particularly curious and culturally appreciative tourists may also receive a literary artefact as a gift — a book in the Gagauz language (at least, such luck fell to us)
No trip is complete without tasting the national cuisine. The Andy`s Pizza chain and its menu and pricing has become the most acceptable for us during our time in Moldova. Here it is cozy, attractive, welcoming and tasty. The variety of dishes available will not leave anyone hungry — even vegans.
Should I go to a country where there is no Eiffel Tower, Coliseum, Tower Bridge or other architectural monuments of global importance? Our answer: it is definitely worth it. Traveling should provide not only food for the eyes, but also emotional contentment from communicating with people and making contact with other cultures. No matter what you see, it is important in which company you do so. And the Gagauzians are open, welcoming and hospitable. They definitely provide good company. Take our word for it 🙂