On the map, it looked so close to Tiraspol: a mere 9 kilometres south of the city. The girl at our hotel was adamant: we had to take a taxi, there was no bus service to Kitskany. This despite the fact that Kitskany is also part of the self-declared state of Transnistria. Once we are on our way, it soon turns out that the driver takes a huge detour, through Bendery, and then driving along the west bank of the Dniester river. We see the tall tower of Kitskany Monastery, our destination, high above the landscape. The monastery is located on the top of a hill, overlooking the Dniester river. Together with Bendery, this is part of a small area of Transnistria which is located on the west, rather than the east bank of the Dniester. We are dropped off right at the foot of the enormous bell tower. There is no one at the entrance, and we just walk in and see some murals on the walls of the bell tower.
Kitskany Monastery is often called Noul Neamț Monastery. This implies it is a successor of the 15th century Neamț Monastery in present-day Romania. However, we see no resemblance in building styles. Kitskany Monastery was founded only in 1864, and was closed by the Soviets almost exactly a hundred years later. The buildings of the monastery were used as a hospital. It was reopened as a monastery just before Moldova regained independence, Kitskany saw fighting in the early 1990s during the War of Transnistria, which resulted in Transnistria gaining control of one of the oldest villages of Moldova. We roam the extensive grounds of this all-male monastery. They turn out to be virtually empty. The monastery grounds have several prominent buildings on them, and in between, we find beautiful gardens.
We walk past the Uspensky church, which turns out to be closed. Following the outline of the monastery grounds, we see a small cemetery, and several areas where vegetables are grown. Then, we come to the Holy Ascension Cathedral, the centrepiece of Kitskany Monastery. Two women are cleaning the monastery, but otherwise, we are the only ones inside. We see a stained glass representation of the bell tower we just walked through, and an impressive gilded iconostasis. We continue our walk, see a huge stash of firewood neatly piled up, and several rows of houses where presumably the monks reside. On the north side of the monastery grounds, we reach a wall. Beyond it, the lower lands stretch out towards Tiraspol. We come across a friendly monk who begs to have his picture taken, and then meet a funny guy who happily opens the door of the bell tower for us. We walk all the stairs, going always higher up, until we reach a locked hatch. We are surrounded by huge bells, and enjoy the views over the surrounding lanscape, as well as Kitskany Monastery itself. The guy is waiting for us when we come down, telling us stories of his life as a body guard, and he walks us to where a van stops to take us back to Tiraspol. It turns out that there are, of course, buses linking Klitskany with the Transnistrian capital.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Kitskany Monastery (Moldova). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Kitskany Monastery. Read more about this site.