The Hidden History Museum Inside a Soviet Train in Transnistria

Along with the accompanying image gallery exploring the monastery and obelisk at Chiţcani, this military museum onboard a train is going to feature in a forthcoming article about tourism in Transnistria.

Here’s what I said about the place, when I featured it in a guide to ‘Secret Museums’ that I wrote for Atlas Obscura:

“The Bendery Military Museum with its extensive collection of militaria is tucked away in consecutive carriages of an old Soviet steam train; parked beside a disused station, in a small town, in a country that, according to the rest of the world, doesn’t exist.

“This military museum is located in a town called Bendery, right on the border with Moldova. Within, visitors are treated to a rare collection of military artefacts pertaining to the Ottoman occupation of the area, Bendery’s role in both WWI and WWII, and of course the later War of Transnistria. Exhibits include a large collection of weapons, moth-eaten uniforms, and cabinet after cabinet full of maps, certificates, and other documents — many of them sent from Moscow, and bearing Stalin’s own stamp of approval.

“Each one of the museum carriages is presided over by a cheerful babushka, who will gladly talk you through each one of the rare and peculiar exhibits… in Russian. You do speak Russian, right? Not a single word in the museum appears in Latin script — let alone in English. The Bendery Military Museum is free to enter and relatively easy to find (once you’ve crossed the heavily militarized border, of course). However, the language barrier means that the information contained within this train will mostly remain a secret even from the handful of non-Russian tourists who actually make it this far.”

 
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