Limestone cliffs, caves and a carved monastery complex….Are you curious? :)

Orheiul Vechi
Orheiul Vechi

Millions of years ran over a landscape that once was a sea. Hand in hand with the forces of nature and hundreds of years of human presence left their prints on a very unique place. People love to go there in winter, spring, summer or autumn. Some of the most adventurous ones will bring tents, camp there and see the sunrise on the cliff, facing Nistru river and Transnistria.

Where is this place?

At about 45 minutes drive from Chisinau (the capital city of Moldova) is one of the most scenic places in Moldova called Orheiul Vechi (Old Orhei). I have mentioned this place in one of my previous posts “A country that is most likely to become your favourite holiday destination” and in this post I will talk more about it.

The rocks and cliffs across the monastery
The rocks and cliffs across the monastery

The place is interesting from many points of view, and I’m sure that even people with high expectations will love it. There’s something for each and everyone: it offers the peace to clear out your mind, to meditate or simply to admire the beauty of these landscapes. Artists are coming here in search of inspiration or hoping to catch that amazing moment of the massive cliff during a storm, sunrise or sunset. Some may be into exploration and if you consider that the whole complex has a surface of 220 ha, then explorers will be busy for a quite a long time 🙂 and the things you will see represent a high historical and cultural value for the National patrimoine of Moldova. The most important sites are: preserved ruins of many civilizations, such as Dacian fortress (9th century BC. AD), the city Tatar-Mongol Sehr al-Cedid (14th century) and Moldovan town Orhei (15th – 17th centuries).

Clopotnita or the Bell Tower at the Orheiul Vechi monastery
Clopotnita or the Bell Tower at the Orheiul Vechi monastery

Around 14th centry Golden Horde conquered these territories and established here Sehr al-Cedid city with a typical oriental look. Today, you can see the foundations and some parts of the walls that belonged once to the three public baths equipped with radiators and ceramic water pipes.

Another important site comprises the remnants (ruins) of the stone walls of the old Orhei citadel. For a better understanding of the local culture and their day to day activities, you can visit the museum that displays the old objects found in the area (more than 4000 are displayed by this day) are around the complex, as well as one of the oldest monasteries in Moldova (the Monastery Complex is carved into a massive limestone).

Decorating element @OrheiulVechi monastery
Decorating element @OrheiulVechi monastery

For those who are looking for some extreme activities, there’s a special arranged place for climbing. In all, the huge cliff contains six complexes of interlocking caves, most of which are accessible only by experienced rock climbers and therefore off-limits to most tourists.

One piece of advice!

  • As in any of the monasteries, in Moldova, there are some rules or simply said there’s a dress code. It says that shorts, deep cuts, short dresses or skirts, see through clothes are forbidden and women must cover their heads inside the monastery. Most of the times, at the entrance in the monastery, skirts will be provided (for free).
  • When you visit the small carved church, go on the stone terrace. The view from there is nothing less than breath taking.
Bells at Orheiul Vechi (monastery)
Bells at Orheiul Vechi (monastery)

Where to sleep?

Other than sleeping in your own tent, you can choose to go to the Agro Pensiunea Butuceni or B&B Vila Roz. At these locations any tourist will feel a bit of the country life and taste traditional homemade foods. 🙂

Another suggestion! 🙂

Not so many tourists know about the “Magnetic Hill”. Ask your guide or travel agent to point it out when you’re heading back to Chisinau from Orhei 😉 Nazis were reputed to have buried Jews alive here, and strange happenings are alleged to occur in the area. If you position your car just right, in the parking lot of the Safari Cafe across the road, facing the hill, and slip it into neutral, the car will eerily advance, despite the slight uphill incline.

View over the Raut river from the "balcony" linked with the monastery complex, carved into a massive limestone
View over the Raut river from the “balcony” linked with the monastery complex, carved into a massive limestone

There are more things to be told about Orheiul Vechi, but for those who want to know more about this complex, please go on UNESCO web page.

I hope this review was interesting and that you have +1 reason to visit Moldova 😉

Travel safe and wise!

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