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Soroca, Moldova

Introduction

Soroca is a small Moldovan city (about 30,000 people) that sits on the Nistru River in northern Moldova. Just across the river is the country of Ukraine. The lands in this area are fairly flat, but the land rises up quickly just west and north of the city and the banks of the Nistru River also provide some geographical variations.

The city of Soroca is known for its fort and for the Roma people who live here in great numbers. This is often times referred to as the Roma capital of the world as the Roma king lives here and the wealth among the Roma is evident in their architecture. The name "Soroca" is derived from the Slavic word for Magpie, which is a bird, similar to the crow.

History

The city's history doesn't really begin until the city began to blossom in 1499 when Stefan cel Mare, the Moldavian prince built a fort on the river to help protect his principality. This fort was originally made of wood, but in the 1540s was reconstructed in stone. Since this time, the history of the city has been aligned with the history of the fort as it stood in battles siding with the Austrians and Poles against the Turks in the 1600s and again with the Russians against the Turks in the 1730s.

In the 1800s the city became home to numerous schools, churches, and improved infrastructure. This relative prosperity continued into the 1900s as the Soviets took the country over and the city was made a center of industrial production and growth. As was the Soviet policy, better jobs in the industrial sectors were reserved for Russians and other Slavic people who the government viewed as being more loyal. This also led to an influx of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians and today the city remains quite diverse.

Soroca Today

Soroca continues to be fairly diverse today as the Roma, Moldovans, Russians, and Ukrainians all call the city home. The Roma tend to be isolated in a neighborhood and their culture is quite different from the lifestyles of most Roma in Europe. The wealth of these Roma is quite incredible and this is easily seen in the size and style of their homes.

The ethnic Moldovans, Russians, and Ukrainians tend to live much as other Moldovans, Russians, and Ukrainians in Moldova live. Each group tends to subscribe to their own religions and foods. The Slavs tend to be more urbanized, while the Moldovans are more rural, but the city of Soroca is truly a mix of all these people and their cultures.

Historical & Architectural Sights

Soroca Fort (Cetatea Soroca): This historic fort was built in 1499 by Stefan cel Mare, but was rebuilt in the 1530s in stone. It sits right on the Nistru River and is almost perfectly round. The fort is small and simple in appearance, but very significant for Soroca and Moldova historically as it symbolizes the region's eastern border.

Areas & Neighborhoods of Interest

The hills on the city's northern side, just northwest of the Soroca Fort are covered with mansions occupied by the Roma people. The architecture on these buildings is very unique as they generally consist of ornate metal work. Any local can help assist you to this area and many recommend seeing it by taxi, which is perhaps the best option as it's not too expensive and they can show you the most impressive of the houses.

Transportation

Soroca has no airport and no train lines running through the city so the only transportation option to or from the city is via bus, public transportation, or private road transportation. The easiest transportation routes are from Balti, will less common, but regular routes to and from Chisinau.

Airport: Soroca doesn't have an airport; the closest airport is the Balti International Airport located about 49 miles (79 kilometers) from Soroca. The airport code is BZY; for its location or directions, see the map below.

Train Station: Soroca doesn't have a train station.

Bus Station: Soroca doesn't have any true bus station; what they do have is streets where buses stop to pick people up and what street that is can vary based upon the bus's destination. The general rule is that to get to Soroca you take the bus so to leave you must take the bus; remember where the bus dropped you off at and that's where the bus will leave from to the same destination you came from. Otherwise, locals are friendly and if you can find one who speaks English he or she will help you get to the right place. Many of the buses stop at or near the intersection of Stefan cel Mare and Decebal streets.

Local Transportation: Soroca has both local buses as well marshrutkas, which are similar to large vans servicing the city. The local transportation doesn't have an official website, however locals (who speak English) are generally willing to help out and the services are similar to public transportation in most major cities throughout Europe. Taxis are also available in limited numbers, but few drivers speak English.

Official Websites

Republic of Moldova: www.moldova.md

Maps & Directions

This page was last updated: November, 2012