Medieval Capital of Moldova
Confused where to go next? We wrote a Suceava travel guide for you to explore Romania in depth.
If you’ve been in Romania for some time and feel that your Facebook and travel blog posts should contain more than the usual “having a great time in Cluj, still having a bit of a hangover left from Sibiu and still trying to recover after that one time wrestling bears in Brasov”, then maybe it’s time to head out to Moldova (the region, not the neighboring country).
One very good place to start this trip down history lane (because Moldova is teeming with history) is with the Suceava Travel Guide. While not as large as the other Romanian cities and not buzzing with the night life of the usual student towns, Suceava does have a certain charm. Best time to visit is from May until September. You could venture there later in the year as well, but we should warn you that winters are very, very cold and they tend to kick in early in the year. In terms of accommodation, you can choose between the city’s two hostels: Lary Hostel if you’re looking for something cozy and a bit of countryside feel to it or Irene Hostel if you want your headquarters to be set in the city center.
The city has been the residence of many of the Moldavian rulers, the most noticeable being Stefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great) whom pretty much everyone there has a soft spot for (in 2006 he was voted the greatest Romanian figure of all time), and the guy was pretty bad-ass indeed, fending off Ottoman Turks invaders, improving the economy and building citadels and churches wherever he found a bit of flat land.
Most of these churches have somehow survived the Communist tendency to demolish everything and turn it into blocks of flats and factories, and they still dot the city’s hills today. There are about 20 churches to visit while you’re here, be them orthodox, catholic, Armenian and even Jewish synagogues.
There are also many buildings that are part of the city’s cultural and historical heritage. One such building is an old medieval inn, now turned into the Ethnographic Museum, the old houses on the Armenian streets, or the ones that were home to Romanian figures, such as composer Ciprian Porumbescu. Of course, there’s also some stranger sights to check out, such as the Giant Easter Egg (which just so happens to be the largest Easter egg in the world).
Want to visit more Romanian cities? Check out our Sibiu Travel Guide for more ideas
Suceava also has a lot of museums, the most notable being the History Museum. Apart from its vast display of medieval artifacts and weapons used in the local conflicts with the Turks, the museum stands out due to the unique display in the Throne Room, where wax figures have been put up, dressed up as Stephen the Great, local landlords and peasants, to display the clothing fashion of those times.
The Planetarium is also worth checking out, as it is the largest museum of this kind in the country, as well as the outdoor Bukovina Museum (where you can see how traditional houses were and still are built in the region of Moldova) or the Natural History Museum.
Now, if you’ve had enough of the cultural shenanigans, maybe it’s time to go shopping. Why shopping? Because, strangely enough, Suceava is the city with the largest number of commercial spaces in the whole country. The city has 4 malls (as a comparison, Cluj only has 2, and it has 4 times the population of Suceava), 8 shopping centers and as many shops and boutiques as there are people (a study indicates that there’s 1,38 square meters of retail per citizen). Besides, you need to get some souvenirs for your friends back home anyway, so might as well indulge in a bit of a shopping spree.
When hunger strikes, head out for some traditional Romanian cuisine at Conacul Domnesc, some Chinese food at Hollywood Sushi Bar, or if you’re not feeling too adventurous, some good ol’ pasta and spaghetti (as well as some other international dishes) at Latino Restaurant. Afterwards, wash it all down with a nice beer at Hennessey’s Pub, or if you’re into rock and folk music, check out 31 Motor’s Pub (there’s this crazy rumor that a pint of beer there is just 2 lei; only one way to find out), followed by an all out party in Babylon Club (bikini dancers are most definitely included) or just chilling out at the Office Club (ties are optional).
But the best thing about Suceava is that you can use it as an outpost for many one day trips and local adventures. The place is great for hiking, as it’s the most forested county in Romania (yes, Suceava county is a land of superlatives, we know). It is also home to some of the most amazing orthodox monasteries in Romania, most of them part of the UNESCO world heritage. Worth checking out are Voronet Monastery, famous world wide for the paintings on its walls and the unique shades of blue used (some regard it as “the Eastern Sistine Chapel”), Moldovita Monastery as well as Humor Monastery (before you ask, there’s nothing humorous about it though). And while you’re out and about in your hiking boots, go the extra mile and check out the Secular Forest in Slatioara (with trees as old as 400 years) or the 70 meters tall limestone pillars known as Pietrele Doamnei (The Lady’s Stones).
written by Teo