Bender, Moldova

"Tighina" redirects here. For the village in Vâlcea County, Romania, see Voicești.
Bendery, Tighina[1]
Views of Bender


Coat of arms

Municipality of Bender (in red)
Coordinates: 46°50′N 29°29′E / 46.833°N 29.483°E / 46.833; 29.483
Country  Moldova (de jure)
 Transnistria (de facto)[2]
Founded 1408
  Head of the State Administration of Bendery Nikolai Gliga[3]
  Total 97.29 km2 (37.56 sq mi)
Elevation 15 m (49 ft)
Population (2010)
  Total 93 751
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
Climate Cfb

Bender[4] ([benˈder]; de facto official name Bendery (Russian: Бендеры, [bʲɪnˈdɛrɨ]); also known by other alternative names) is a city within the internationally recognized borders of Moldova under de facto control of the unrecognized Transnistria Republic (PMR) since 1992. It is located on the right (western) bank of the river Dniester in the historical region of Bessarabia. Together with its suburb Proteagailovca, the city forms a municipality, which is separate from Transnistria according to the Moldovan law. Bender is located in the buffer zone established at the end of the 1992 War of Transnistria.

While the Joint Control Commission has overriding powers in the city, Transnistria has de facto administrative control.


First mentioned in 1408 as Тягянякяча (Tyagyanyakyacha) in a document in Old Slavonic (the term has Cuman[5] origins), the town was known in the Middle Ages as Tighina in Moldavian sources and later as Bender in Ottoman sources. The fortress and the city were called Bender for the most part of the time they were a rayah of the Ottomans (1538–1812), and during most of the time they belonged to the Russian Empire (1828–1917). They were known as Tighina (Тигина, [tiˈɡina]) in the Principality of Moldavia, in the early part of the Russian Empire period (1812–1828), and during the time the city belonged to Romania (1918–1940; 1941–1944).

The fortress of Bender on a Moldovan stamp

The city is part of the historical region of Bessarabia. During the Soviet period the city was known in the Moldavian SSR as Бендер (Bender) in Moldovan (Romanian) written then with the Cyrillic alphabet, and as Бендéры (Bendery) in Russian. Independent Moldova officially knows the city as Bender, but otherwise both names (Bender and Tighina) are in use.[6]


The remnants of fortress walls with the Dniester River in the background.

The town was first mentioned as an important customs post in a commerce grant issued by the Moldavian voivode Alexander the Good to the merchants of Lviv on October 8, 1408. The name "Tighina" is found in documents from the second half of the 15th century. The town was the main Moldavian customs point on the commercial road linking the country to Tatar Crimea.[7] During his reign of Moldavia, Stephen III had a small wooden fort built in the town to defend the settlement from Tatar raids.[8]

City centre
The historical military cemetery in the city.

In 1538, the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent conquered the town from Moldavia, and renamed it Bender. Its fortifications were developed into a full fortress under the same name under the supervision of the Turkish architect Koji Mimar Sinan. The Ottomans used it to keep the pressure on Moldavia. At the end of the 16th century several unsuccessful attempts to retake the fortress were made: in the summer of 1574 Prince John III the Terrible led a siege on the fortress, as did Michael the Brave in 1595 and 1600. About the same time the fortress was attacked by Zaporozhian Cossacks.

In the 18th century, the fort's area was expanded and modernized by the prince of Moldavia Antioh Cantemir, who carried out these works under Ottoman supervision.

In 1713, the fortress, the town, and the neighboring village Varnița were the site of skirmishes (kalabalik) between Charles XII of Sweden, who had taken refuge there with the Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa after his defeat in the Battle of Poltava, and Turks who wished to enforce the departure of the Swedish king.[9]

During the second half of the 18th century, the fortress fell three times to the Russians during the Russo-Turkish Wars (in 1770, 1789, and in 1806 without a fight).

Along with Bessarabia, the city was annexed to the Russian Empire in 1812, and remained part of the Russian Governorate of Bessarabia until 1917. Many Ukrainians, Russians and Jews settled in or around Bender, and the town quickly became predominantly Russian-speaking. By 1897, speakers of Romanian and Moldovan made up only around 7% of Bender's population, while 33.4% were Jews.[10]

Tighina was part of the Moldavian Democratic Republic in 1917–1918, and after 1918, as part of Bessarabia, the city belonged to Romania, where it was the seat of Tighina County. In 1918, it was shortly controlled by the Odessa Soviet Republic which was driven out by the Romanian army. The local population was critical of Romanian authorities; pro-Soviet separatism remained popular.[11] On Easter Day, 1919, the bridge over the Dniester River was blown up by the French Army in order to block the Bolsheviks from coming to the city.[1] In the same year, there was a pro-Soviet uprising in Bender, attempting to attach the city to the newly founded Soviet Union. Several hundred communist workers and Red Army members from Bessarabia, headed by Grigori Stary, seized control in Bender on May 27. However, the uprising was crushed on the same day by the Romanian army.

Romania launched a policy of Romanianization and the use of Russian was now discouraged and in certain cases restricted. In Bender, however, Russian continued to be the city's most widely spoken language, being native to 53% of its residents in 1930. Although their share had doubled, Romanian-speakers made up only 15%.[12]

Along with Bessarabia, the city was occupied by the Soviet Union on June 28, 1940, following an ultimatum. In the course of World War II, it was retaken by Romania in July 1941, and again by the USSR in August 1944. Most of the city's Jews were killed during the Holocaust, although Bender continued to have a significant Jewish community well until the 1990s.

In 1940–41, and 1944–1991 it was one of the four "republican cities" (i.e., not subordinated to a district) of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, one of the 15 republics of the Soviet Union. Since 1991, the city is disputed between the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria. Due to the city's key strategic location on the right bank of the Dniester river, 10 km (6 mi) from left-bank Tiraspol, Bender saw the heaviest fighting of the 1992 War of Transnistria. Since then, it is controlled by Transnistrian authorities, although it has been formally in the demilitarized zone established at the end of the conflict. Most of the city's remaining Jews emigrated after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Moldovan authorities control the commune of Varnița, a suburb fringing the city to the north. Transnistrian authorities control the suburban communes of Proteagailovca, which borders the city to the west and Gîsca, which borders the city to the south-west. They also control Chițcani and Cremenciug, further to the south-east, while Moldovans are in control of Copanca, further to the south-east.


Nikolai Gliga is the head of the state administration of Bender as of 2015.

List of Heads of the state administration of Bender

People and culture


In 1920, the population of Bender was approximately 26,000. At that time, one third of the population was Jewish. One third of the population was Romanian. Germans, Russians, and Bulgarians were also mixed into the population during that time.[1]

At the 2004 Census, the city had a population of 100,169, of which the city itself 97,027, and the commune of Proteagailovca, 3,142.

Ethnic composition
Ethnic group 1930 census 1959 census 1970 census 1979 census 1989 census 2004 census
the city
Proteagailovca The
Russians 15,116 N/A N/A N/A 57,800 41,949 1,482 43,431 43.35%
Moldovans1 - N/A N/A N/A 41,400 24,313 756 25,069 25.03%
Romanians1 5,464 N/A N/A N/A - 61 0-5 61-66 0.06%
Ukrainians2 - N/A N/A N/A 25,100 17,348 658 18,006 17.98%
Ruthenians2 1,349 N/A N/A N/A - - - - -
Bulgarians 170 N/A N/A N/A 3,800 3,001 163 3,164 3.16%
Gagauzians 40 N/A N/A N/A 1,600 1,066 25 1,091 1.09%
Jews 8,279 N/A N/A N/A - 383 2 385 0.38%
Germans 243 N/A N/A - - 258 6 264 0.26%
Poles 309 N/A N/A N/A - 190 0-12 190-202 0.20%
Armenians 46 N/A N/A N/A - 173 0-16 173-189 0.18%
Roma 24 N/A N/A N/A - 132 0-5 132-137 0.13%
Belorussians 188 N/A N/A N/A - 713 19 732 0.73%
others N/A N/A N/A 8,300 7,440 0-31 7,440-7,471 7.44%
non-declared 51 N/A N/A - N/A
Greeks 37 N/A N/A - N/A
Hungarians 24 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Serbs, Croats, Slovenes 22 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Czechs, Slovaks 19 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Turks 2 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Albanians 1 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total 31,384[23] 43,000 72,300 101,292[24] 138,000[25] 97,027[26] 3,142[26] 100,169 100%

Note: 1 Since the independence of Moldova, there has been ongoing controversy over whether Romanians and Moldovans should be counted officially as the same ethnic group or not. At the census, every citizen could only declare one nationality. Consequently, one could not declare oneself both Moldovan and Romanian.

Note: 2 The Ukrainian population of Bessarabia was counted in the past as "Ruthenians" in a similar way the Romanian population is counted as "Moldovan" today

Native language
Language 1930 census 2004 census
Russian 16,566 N/A
Yiddish 8,117 N/A
Romanian 4,718 N/A
Ukrainian 1,286 N/A
German 225 N/A
Polish 219 N/A
Bulgarian 78 N/A
Turkish 26 N/A
Greek 21 N/A
Hungarian 20 N/A
Gypsy 16 N/A
Czech, Slovak 14 N/A
Armenian 11 N/A
Serbo-Croatian, Slovene 8 N/A
Albanian 2 N/A
other 11 N/A
non-declared 46 N/A
Total 31,384[23] 100,169


Notable people


Bender Railway Station

People born in the city include:



FC Dinamo Bender is the city's professional football club, formerly playing in the top Moldovan football league, the Divizia Naţională, before being relegated.

International relations

Twin towns – Sister cities

Bender is twinned with:



  1. 1 2 3 Kaba, John (1919). Politico-economic Review of Basarabia. United States: American Relief Administration. pp. 14–15.
  2. Whilst unanimously recognised by all UN members as an autonomous region of Moldova, Transnistria is effectively a de facto independent republic. Transnistria's de facto sovereign status is recognised only by Abkhazia and South Ossetia, themselves in a similar diplomatic situation
  3. 1 2 "Указ Президента ПМР №139 "О временно исполняющем обязанности главы государственной администрации города Бендеры"". Официальный сайт Президента ПМР.
  4. (Romanian) Law 764-XV from December 27, 2001 on administrative-territorial organisation of the Republic of Moldova, Monitorul Oficial al Republicii Moldova, no. 16/53, December 29, 2001 (subsequent modifications taken into account)
  5. History of Bender on the Official website of Republic of Moldova: "trecătoare" înseamnă în limba cumană Tighina
  6. (Romanian) "Cetatea Tighina" Archived April 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. on
  7. Ion Nistor, Istoria Basarabiei, Cernăuți, 1923, reprint Chișinău, Cartea Moldovenească, 1991, p.76
  8. "Bender fortress" on
  9. Charles XII of Sweden first took refuge in a Moldavian house in the town, then moved to a house specially built for him in Varnița. cf. Ion Nistor, Ibidem, p.140
  10. "Демоскоп Weekly - Приложение. Справочник статистических показателей.".
  11. "Turism istoric: Tighina sub epoleti".
  13. (Russian) Olvia Press News Agency
  14. (Russian) Olvia Press News Agency
  15. (Russian) REGNUM News Agency
  16. (Russian) Official website of the Supreme Council of Transnistria
  17. (Russian) Transnistrian News Portal Pridnestrovets.RF
  18. (Russian) Official website of the President of Transnistria
  19. Указ Президента ПМР №754 Archived November 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. "Указ Президента ПМР №14 "О назначении главы государственной администрации города Бендеры"". Официальный сайт Президента ПМР.
  21. "Указ Президента ПМР № 120 "О временно исполняющем обязанности главы государственной администрации города Бендеры"". Официальный сайт Президента ПМР.
  22. "Указ Президента ПМР №138 "О прекращении исполнения обязанностей главы государственной администрации города Бендеры"". Официальный сайт Президента ПМР.
  23. 1 2 1930 Romanian Census data for the Tighina County
  24. "Moldova".
  25. Marian Enache, Dorin Cimpoesu, Misiune Diplomatica in Republica Moldova (Iași: Polirom, 2000), p. 399
  26. 1 2 "". Archived from the original on March 18, 2009.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bender.

Coordinates: 46°50′N 29°29′E / 46.833°N 29.483°E / 46.833; 29.483

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