The capital Chişinău is by far Moldova’s largest and liveliest city and its main transport hub. While the city’s origins date back six centuries to 1420, much of Chişinău was levelled in WWII and a tragic earthquake that struck in 1940. The city was rebuilt in Soviet style from the 1950s onwards, and both the centre and outskirts are dominated by utilitarian (and frankly not very attractive) buildings. That said, the centre does have a few architectural gems remaining, and is surprisingly green and peaceful.
Most visitors confine their stay to the centre, defined by two large, diagonally opposed parks: Parcul Catedralei, and Grădina Publică Ştefan cel Mare şi Sfînt. The best museums, hotels, restaurants and cafes are no more than a leisurely 10- or 15-minute walk away. The impressive main artery, B-dul Ştefan cel Mare, cuts right through the axis of the two parks.