Earth : Europe : Balkans : Moldova : Pridnestrovie : Bendery
Bendery (Russian Бендеры; Moldovan Bender or Tighina) is a city in the unrecognized independent republic of Pridnestrovie, on the west bank of the Dniestr River.
Frequent and inexpensive buses and marshrutkas stop here en route from Chisinau, Causeni and Tiraspol. Tickets available at the local bus station. The trolley bus from Tiraspol (number 19) costs 3 rubles (2019), tickets are sold by the conductor. Trains run from Bender 2 station to Chisinau, Odessa and even Moscow. Both international airports at Odessa, Ukraine and Chisinau, Moldova are under 2 hours away by car.
Visitors will be given an entry paper at the PMR (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic) border. Stays of longer than 24 hours may need to be registered depending on your citizenship. Remember to keep your entry paper as you need it to leave PMR.
You can explore the city center easily by foot. Small buses called mashrutkas and larger electric trolley buses follow planned routes from the center through the city suburbs. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive being parked strategically around the city center.
There is an over 600 year old fortification overlooking the river on the main road between Tiraspol and Chisinau. The land around the west of the fortress is still used by the army however currently mostly as a store for vehicles. You can enter the fortress now (2019) from the south, where a nice looking entry and huge park have recently been constructed. In the park, you will find the new Alexender Nevsky church and a small museum with different kinds of military equipment found in the region. The entrance price is around 15 rubles (2019).
To get inside the fortress, you have to pay 50 rubles (2019). Inside the fortress are many real historical cannons, trebuchet replicas, and a museum to the Swedish-Ottoman conflict over the fort. There is also a souvenir shop, a museum of medieval torture instruments, shooting range (for crossbows), historical dress-up and a small cafe with toilet facilities. The fortress is currently being renovated, however it is safe to access most parts of the walls and at the entrance of the fortess you can climb the tower providing nice views over the surrounding area, the Dniester river and the newly built park around the Alexender Nevsky church.
The downtown is pleasant to walk through. You'll notice a fortified Russian checkpoint on the bridge leading across the Dniestr - these are the local peacekeeping forces. Nearby is a monument to the "independence" conflict. The bus terminal is a nice example of Soviet bus terminal design - check out the mosaics!
In the nearby village of Varnita there is a monument in memory of the skirmishes (famous in Swedish history as kalabaliken) during which Charles XII, king of Sweden, was caught prisoner by Turkish forces (1713), after having been in the city as a refugee following the battle of Poltava.
There also several interesting museums in Bender.
Bendery has several night clubs to visit for the adventurous traveler.
There are a thousand small shops spread all over the city center to catch you interest. Everything from modern electronics to basic household staples. Several indoor malls and a main outdoor bazaar for food and another large outdoor bazaar for everything else.
Opposite Andy's Pizza on the corners of Suvorov and Lazo is the supermarket Sheriff, of which there are several in Pridnestrovie. This is a large supermarket with a wide range of products.
Also on Strada Suvarov, between Strada luri Gagarin and Strada Tiraspol is the large market; partly open air, partly covered. This is where locals go to buy all manner of fresh foods, meats, vegetables, spices, confectionary and mountains of cheese. Even if you don't want to buy anything, the market has a real buzz and is a good taste of Pridnestrovian life.
There's a nice Uzbek restaurant nearby the bus terminal. The owner also speaks some English. If you are looking for a western style food place then you can visit Andy's Pizza which is located right in the Center of Bendery one block away from Supermarket Sheriff.
You can find a Soviet style canteen called CCCP in the first floor of the Bendery bus station. It serves simple food at a low price (15-30 rubles). Staff only speaks Russian and there's no English description of the meals.
Moldova produces a great deal of wine and exports to a few countries. Be sure to try them, as they can be surprisingly good. In addition to the recognizable bottled products there are vendors who sell table wines in 1 1/2 litre plastic bottles.
There are a couple hotels in the city, one beside the river and frequently used by the Russian peacekeepers. Unrated and typical old Soviet style.