Balti is the second largest city in Moldova, located in the north of the former Soviet republic.
The city hasn’t changed much since Moldova declared independence 30 years ago, and until recently it still looked like a drab Soviet-era provincial city, with concrete buildings, various statues and other reminders of the past, interspersed with pretty Orthodox churches.
However, the city of about 150,000 has a new fresh look after parts of the city center were refurbished and turned into a pedestrian zone.
Renato Usatii, who’s been mayor in 2019, has gone even further calling Balti “the Pedestrian City,” independent.md reported.
City hall counselor Marina Negara posted a number of images of the city’s streets and sidewalks on Facebook which were headlined “before” and “after” in Russian.
The pictures show how previously grassy scrubs and scrappy, potholed streets have been spruced up and turned into wide, clean sidewalks where people can stroll.
It’s not clear whether the project was funded by the city hall, by European Union funds or elsewhere. Moldova signed an association agreement with the EU in 2014.
The city has a large Russian speaking minority and is considered the most important city for Russian speakers in Moldova.
Balti was founded in the 15th century making it much older than some cities in the region and is about 130 kilometers north of the capital, Chisinau.
It’s Moldova’s second most important city economically with a focus on tobacco, wine making, orchards, manufacturing and more recently, the service sector.