One of the short trips we did within Moldova was a trip to Comrat. Comrat is the capital of the semi-autonomous region Gagauzia. This means that while still a part of Moldova, the Moldovan government has granted the region certain freedoms and more control over certain aspects of their governance. The reason behind this is that the region is distinctly unique in terms of culture, traditions, food, and even language.
Gagauzia was settled by Ottoman Turks during one of the times Moldova was ruled by the Ottoman Empire. These settlers brought with them their language, culture, and traditions, which still can be observed there today. Although most Gagauzians speak primarily Russian in modern times, their traditional language of Gagauz is still sometimes used, mostly by the older generations.
Because I don’t speak any Russian and most people living in Comrat do not speak Romanian, my host dad accompanied my family to Comrat and a fellow volunteer was our tour guide around the town. Compared to most other parts of Moldova, Comrat has not removed all Soviet-era monuments. For example, there is a statue of Lenin in the town, as well as other monuments memorializing Gagauz, Moldovan, and Russian writers and other famous individuals.
We walked around the town, taking the sights in, and then ate at a local restaurant. I had steak for the first time in over a year, and it was incredibly delicious (this is one of the few places in Moldova to get it!). It was interesting to see what my host dad thought about the town, as it was also his first visit. He felt that there weren’t enough mature trees and said that must be because they had cut all the trees down at some point, which he found disappointing. For me, and for my parents, it was interesting to visit an area of Moldova I had heard a lot about but hadn’t seen yet.
Notes and tips about visiting Comrat:
- As I mentioned above, Russian is the main language spoken and very few people speak English. You can get around the city pretty easily regardless of whether you speak the language or not, but you should be aware of this.
- There is a beautiful church with a park flanking both sides in the center of the town. There is a large parking space behind this if you are coming by car.