Moldova is a traveler’s secret. Being one of the least visited places in Europe, this landlocked country bordered by Romania and Ukraine has suffered—and been known for—political instability, collapsing incomes and high rates of poverty in recent years. But this beautiful underdog of a country is a non-stop battler and has started to see a decline in poverty, and progress being made towards achieving and retaining financial stabilization.
But, Moldova is now starting to see a jump in tourism (with predictions the industry could increase 10-fold within the next decade), and there’s even a budding tech industry here, so you’ll probably want to visit before it becomes a hotspot, swarming with tourists. And it will become a tourism hotspot because of the scenes you’re about to swoon over by photographer Octavian Șova.
Octavian’s passion for photography began four years ago during his first year of medical school. Being from a small town in the northern part of Moldova made Octavian want to know more about the capital, and so he found three other friends with a desire to explore Chisinau, too.
“We even made a list of some places we had heard about and that are worth visiting,” he says. “I still don’t know why, but we started with the cemeteries! After visiting all the existing and no more existing cemeteries in the city, we switched our interest to old buildings. During all these walks through the city I was fond of taking pictures. I used my Galaxy S4, so the pictures were not the best. But after every walk in the city, I uploaded something onto my Instagram page and people started liking these photos.
“Maybe because they were shot from some usually unseen places for a Chisinau citizen. Some of them were even reposted by some well known Facebook and Instagram pages from Moldova. The fact that people liked that I was doing this made me go further. I continued to take pictures of Chisinau. Most of them were of old buildings.
“During my walks I discovered a new passion: Chisinau from above. I was searching for places that would give me the possibility to look at the city from above. It has been my passion til now. In September 2017 I finally bought a camera. I guess my photos are better now! I have never considered myself a photographer. I am just a guy who likes taking photos. At this moment I am fond of sky and landscape photography.”
When asked about his favorite places to photograph, Octavian says, “I guess these are the places from where I can admire the sky and the city at the same time. I found some soviet buildings with public balconies. A 16-floor building is enough to see the beauty of Chisinau. There is one not far from the place I stay in Chisinau. I also found an old funicular; it's a little dangerous climbing it but it's worth the effort. Another place that I like a lot is on a hill in a park. These three are my favorite.”
Curious minds want to know: how do you find things to photograph in Chisinau?
“At the moment I started photography, I was wandering until I found something interesting. Sometimes I still do this now but most of the time I already know that I can see from one or from another place. I am still surprised sometimes when I find some places I have never noticed before. It happened about two weeks ago—while walking I found an amazing old house, built in 1858.”
And for those who are planning a trip to Moldova, which three places does Octavian recommend visiting?
1: Romanita House: A 22-floor soviet building with an amazing view from the roof.
2: ARTCOR: Here you will find the 1858-built building. Natalie of Serbia (Queen of Serbia 1882-1889) lived there.
3: Valea Morilor Park: The sunsets there are amazing.
4: Its not in Chisinau, but this place is quite unique. It is a soviet bunker: 2 steel cylindrical blocks with a diameter of 32 meters and a depth of 60 meters. Pretty impressive: Object 1180, an underground reserve command post of the Warsaw Treaty countries. It is located near Oliscani village, Soldanesti district (115 km from Chisinau).
Rachel Ruiz-Oakley is the Managing Editor of Slide Night.