Orheiul Vechi

Orheiul Vechi is an archaeological complex located about 35 miles northeast of Chisinau. This valley, shaped by Raut River, is one of the top attractions in Moldova, with a pristine natural landscape featuring huge limestone outcroppings. There are several ancient monuments and buildings set in the valley, from various historical periods dating from the 3rd century AD to the occupation of the Golden Horde in the 14th century. These ancient fortresses and early Christian monasteries are among the most unusual sights in all of Eastern Europe, and a museum at the site provides further information and exhibits.

Orheiul Vechi Monastery Complex is carved into a massive limestone cliff in this wild, rocky, remote spot. The Cave Monastery inside a cliff, overlooking the gently meandering Raut River, was dug by Orthodox monks in the 13th century. It remained inhabited until the 18th century. In the 18th century the cave-church was taken over by villagers from neighbouring Butuceni village. In 1905 they built a church above ground dedicated to the Ascension of St Mary. The church was shut down by the Soviets in 1944 and remained abandoned throughout the communist regime. Services resumed in 1996, though it still looks abandoned. Archaeologists have uncovered remnants of a defence wall surrounding the monastery complex from the 15th century.

Butuceni village

“Easter for the Dead” holiday
On Sunday and Monday the weekend after Easter, Moldovan Orthodox Christians flock to the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried, usually in their home villages. The family gathered around, eating and drinking together, honoring the memory of those who had passed away, sharing time together as a family.


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