A day around Orhei Vecchi

A bit of History

Once we arrived in Moldova, it was quite late (after the whole border control craziness that you can find here) and we spent the night in the capital, Chisinau, where we decided not to stay very long. In the morning we simply drove through it before leaving the city and heading towards Orhei Vechhi, a a Moldovan historical and archaeological complex located in Trebujeni, approximately 60km away from the capital.

“The ancient city of Orheiul Vechi is a natural and historical complex, located in a narrow bend of the Raut River. The natural landscape of limestone rock, eroded by the river, is combined with archaeological vestiges of the ancient Trypillian civilization. As a result of archaeological excavations, cultural layers were discovered from different epochs, such as the Palaeolithic, Eneolithic, and Iron Age. The Orthodox monastery is still inhabited by a handful of Orthodox monks, who maintain the church at the top of the hill. The caves are still functional as chapels. The caves contain an array of historical artefacts and Old Church Slavonic inscriptions dating from the 1690s, which testify that the Hajduk took shelter in the caves, hiding from the Ottoman Empire.”

Wikipedia

Orhei Vechi:

UNDERGROUND CHAPPEL


This is where we started our visit of the complex. After wandering around the visible chapel, we couldn’t figure out where was the entrance of the underground one, and started to think that maybe it was just a myth. We crossed the path of a group of young locals to whom we asked for the way to go and one of them decided to guide us through the “secret” entrance.

SECRET PASSAGE

Indeed, under a bell tower lays a closed door that you have to open in order to go down some dark stairs into the underground chapel. There you can find a door leading you to the edge of the cliff where you can borrow some blankets and enjoy the breath-taking view.

The Most amazing view


After some moments of silence in front the altar and the light of a candle, we pushed a wooden door, grabbed some hand weaved blankets and walked on the edge of the cliff, tens of meters above the ground. It was really impressive and we sat there for a bit before heading towards our next destination.

On this edge, stuck in between two rocks, I found a Moldovan change bill and decided to keep it as a good luck sign. Since that day, that bill has stayed with me, in my wallet, and I’m sure it is giving me some very positive energy.


Second stop of the day

Tipova Monastery

Also carved in the mountain, this monastery is as impressive. You can see the small art exhibition inside of it as well as walk around the former rooms carved in the stone. Remember to bring with you some cash as this monastery has a “door man”.

The view from this side of the cliff is breath taking. You can face the river until the eyes can’t see and get lost with the landscape. There, in the complete silence carried by the wind, I was able to truly imagine the peace those religious people were experiencing and how it would hold their faith in such a great energy.