Orheiul Vechi with its cave monasteries, churches, ancient and medieval ruins and fascinating natural rock formations is a place full of mystery, legends and breathtaking landscapes. Conveniently located only 45-50 minutes away from the capital city of Chisinau, Orheiul Vechi is a must-visit destination for visitors to Moldova. While you can always visit Orheiul Viechi as a day trip from Chisinau, we recommend you stay a bit longer and overnight in Butuceni or Trebujeni villages to truly feel the depth of history, natural beauty and local hospitality in this beautiful pocket of central Moldova.
The Orthodox Church of The Nativity of The Mother of GodSee on map
The history of the Monastery dates back to the 15th-16th centuries, when on the place of the current edifice there was a small wooden Church. The activity of the Monastery was closely connected with the Cave Hermitage (“Peștera”). There is no evidence of further activity of the hermitages in this area during the 18th and 19th centuries. Towards the end of the 19th century, the monastic life in the area was gradually resumed. In 1905, the Monastery of the Nativity of the mother of God was consecrated and reopened. Once the Soviet regime was established, the Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God, including the adjacent Cave Hermitage, were turned into an open-air museum. In 1947, following the inventory of the monastery-owned books and icons, some of these items were handed over to the monasteries in Ukraine. In 1968, the Church bells were removed as well, being replaced with empty gas cylinders. The actual Church bells were recently brought from Russia. The current monastic community was officially registered in 1996, while the divine services became officiated since 1998.
Cave MonasterySee on map
Part of the cave complex Butuceni, the Cave Monastery, comprises a church, 11 monastic cells, bell tower and a massive stone cross. The holy place was built by refurbishing some older premises, the traces of which were visible on the walls. The 11 monastic cells were dug on the steep bank of the River Raut in the 15th century, marking a number of periods of functioning.
The Hermitage comprises a bell tower and a massive stone cross, dating back to the 18th century. You will often see couples of newlyweds walking towards this cross, eager to immortalize this special day in this place full of legends.
Pîrcălabului Bosie MonasterySee on map
Historical monument composed of a cave church and 9 monastic cells, located at 25 m high, dates back to the 17th century AD. It is distinguished by the medieval stoning inscriptions, written in Cyrillic script in Slavonic and Romanian languages, unique of its kind, preserved in the Republic of Moldova. The construction is attributed to Pârcălabul de Orhei Bosie, who left a foundation inscription at the entrance to the Church back in 1665.
The 9 monastic cells adjacent to the church would catch your attention by their interior layout: stone beds, hearths, window openings along with the traces of various wooden structures: partitions, beams, etc.
Tatar BathsSee on map
In the memory of the indigenous population, this place is known as “Feredeu”, which means Spa Resort or City bath. The location of one of the 3 Tatar Baths was on the bank of the Raut River. Nowadays, this place can be seen through the remaining masonry, the ancient foundation of a former sturdy edifice. During 1948 through 1950, the archaeologists discovered within the territory of old Orhei, on the banks of the Raut River, the traces of another three sites, which turned out to be the Baths of the Golden Horde Era. The edifices were equipped with a heating system, hot vapor exhaust pipes and a fairly well branched out water supply networks. Inside one could still see some remnants of what once were the bathrooms, change rooms, fire stove rooms and the adjacent accommodations. The walls of the building were made of roughly processed though resistant natural stone, due to which face the foundation of the edifice was preserved until nowadays. The Bath, with its foundation preserved to this day, is one of the three Feredeie (iron bath) made in the first part of the 14th century in different parts of the city.
Village Museum - authentic peasants’ household arrangementSee on map
Typical household arrangement for Butuceni village – dates back to the XIX-XX centuries. The household comprises the main residence, the so-called bașca, cellar, loznița, râsnița and other adjacent elements, all of which are fenced with a stone wall separating the Moldovan peasant from the rest of the world. No more, no less than it would have taken a household – each construction had its purpose: the cellar was for storing supplies, bașca served as the summerhouse, loznița was a special oven for fruit drying, and râsnița was handy in grinding the cereals – without technology and digital displays – just pure manual work. Did I manage to intrigue you? Then come and see how an authentic farm in Butuceni works!
Geto-Dacian fortressSee on map
As a strategically perfect area, the basin of River Răut, was home to one of the most famous peoples of antiquity – the Geto– Dacians. Located on the promontory of Butuceni, the Geto-Dacians Fortress is the oldest fortified site in Orheiul Vechi, dating back to the 7th-5th century BC. Initially, there was just the citadel. Later on it was extended and turned into a real fortress. The location has seen numerous changes over its four centuries of existence: extending the enclosure, arranging new fortifications, refurbishment of the old ones, changing the entire structure. All these were protected by 10 defense lines formed by the ramparts, ditches, stonewall and pole fencing.
Hermitage of Pârcălabului Albu-MachcăutiSee on map
The complex preserves about 20 monastic cave rooms located on five levels, some of which are interconnected. The cells that have been preserved are extremely small in size, destined for an austere existence, which is also confirmed by their location at 70-80 meters high above the water surface. Currently, the hermitage is gradually decaying under the negative effect of natural calamities. Tourists’ access to the area is LIMITED.
Visitors center of Orheiul Vechi Museum ComplexSee on map
The museum complex “Orheiul Vechi” has its exhibition center with valuable archaeological finds, discovered on the territory of the protected reservation during excavations works. The exhibition center is structured according to the historical epochs and reflects all of the biotopic stages of civilizations that have ever inhabited the Orheiul Vechi micro zone. Stored in the archives of the museum complex are the impressive collections of heritage objects, total of about 6 thousand pieces of inventory (tools, weapons, glass, coins, etc.) and over 100 thousand ceramic sherds.
Besides, the collection contains ethnographic exhibits, such as: fabrics, traditional peasant clothes, metal ornaments, etc. As part of various topical exhibitions inside of the complex found could be some elements of medieval and modern architecture.
Activities at Orheiul Vechi
If you prefer walking or cycling, then do notice that the biking and hiking trails are waiting for you at Orheiul Vechi. Discover the beauty of the Moldavian land step by step, stop at the foot of a cliff, or at its top for a picnic and enjoy the landscape finding yourself right in the heart of the nature.
If you are a real thrill-seeker, then find at Orheiul Vechi the entertainment that suits you best! Paragliding gives you a chance to fuel your soul with the spirit of adventures and your blood vessels with adrenaline. The starting point – over 100 meters high cliffs. Make a few steps and let yourself fly over the beauty right in the heart of Moldova.
To book a paragliding flight go to: www.paraplan.md
There are numerous ways to admire the splendor of Moldovan landscapes, among which the courageous rock climbing definitely stands out. Joining an expedition, you will learn the required basic technique as well as a lot of useful advice from your qualified instructors. No doubts, some exciting experience is waiting for you there. There are many places fit for practicing rock climbing. Rock climbing is a type of leisure that combines all the elements creating a wonderful getaway outside the city, while the final point of the expedition could be a nice dinner at one of the countryside guesthouses. If you feel attracted by adventures, do not hesitate to discover the highest points of Moldova and get your unforgettable memories.
For those who want to try a different experience in Moldova, we would recommend to venture on a kayak tour on the River Răut. So, just get on a boat, put on your safety vest and discover the most hidden places of Moldova! You will get to where just a few have reached so far! After a few hours of rowing, you could choose to stop in a village on the riverbank and try the tastiest zeama in your life. In case you choose to stay overnight in a tent, then we promise to make it one of the most beautiful starry night in your life. Coffee prepared at the open fire in the morning tastes delicious, and the water vapor floating over the Răut Nistru will capture you into the dreams that you have never thought would ever come true. Note, that this type of sport is recommended for families and team building activities, at the same time, the staff from www.kayakingtours.md could also organize the customized tours at your request.
Do not miss the cooking workshops, organized by the rural guest houses at Orheiul Vechi! Learn how to bake traditional bread with homemade yeasts, then wrap up sarmale into grape or cabbage leaves and prepare cherry dumplings, as per Orheiul Vechi recipe. The patience and mastery of the housewives in the villages will make you fall in love with Moldovan cuisine.
Attention! To benefit on a cooking workshop, request this service in advance at the rural guesthouse of your stay.
For those who could not rests even when on vacation, Orheiul Vechi, in its reservation area offers six tourist routes for birds watching, hiking and cycling. The routes have different levels of complexity, from 4 up to 23 kilometers. One could go for a walk or take a bike, enjoying the picturesque combs of the River Răut. The experience is complemented by the tourist sightseeing, gastronomic breaks and accommodation in the rural guesthouses of Orheiul Vechi.
Activities at local Rural Guest Houses
The rural guest houses of Orheiul Vechi have more to offer in addition to nice accommodation and diverse traditional cuisine. At your request, they could organize a whole agenda of authentic experiences for you. The best would be to ask your hosts in advance to arrange for the activities you would like to engage in during your stay.
- CASA DIN LUNCĂ from Tribujeni, is a rural guesthouse that, apart from accommodation, offers a range of leisure activities throughout the year.
In winter, the hosts of the guest house could organize a foray into local winter customs – sowing, caroling and snow plowing, skating on the river or riding horse-drawn sleigh.
In the spring time, you can take part in Easter eggs decoration, trees beautification and letting Easter eggs float on the river. Try in summer a boat ride on the river or by a horse cart through the village, and in autumn you could engage in harvesting and processing grapes, baking bread, as well as joining the husk dolls souvenir making workshop.
- VILA ROZ challenges you to bake pies and wrap up sarmale joining the guesthouse cooks. Moreover, you can take a ride on a carriage through Trebujeni and participate in local customs performance. For those seeking adventures, Vila Roz offers bikes for cycling.
- At ECO RESORT BUTUCENI horse or oxen driven carriages are waiting for those who want to explore the surroundings. The rural guesthouse also organizes weekly cooking workshops to make sarmale, pies and Moldovan cakes.
- Go to CASA DE SUB STÂNCĂ for a spiritual getaway to the cave monastery “Butuceni”, the Fortress “Orheiul Vechi” and the Turkish bath. These are just a few sites included in the tours agenda. Also here you can ride a carriage or take a boat on the river. Those who love fishing could take their fishing rods and enjoy some quiet time catching fish. For all of their precious guests the hosts provide performances with music and folk dances unique for the region.
- Guesthouse VALEA STÂNCII offers cooking workshops as well as traditional music and dance performances. The guesthouse hosts could offer to the passionate amateurs of local traditions and to the healthy lifestyle followers some special tours and courses of local culture as well as a promenade.
- Have you ever heard of the word claca? Claca has been left to us as a legacy from our ancestors. It supports a tradition of giving a hand of help to each other, voluntarily and free of charge in household chores. And in case you have never heard of this tradition before, then come to REȘEDINȚA ROTUNDU residence and give a hand of help to the household claca! In spring, you can take part in cleaning and trimming vines and planting greeneries. In summer you could pick up sweet cherries and/or go fishing. In the fall time, the villagers are busy harvesting grapes and producing wine, while around the kitchen you could always participate in cooking traditional meals.
Bird watching trails
The cultural-natural reservation “Orheiul Vechi” has become a pilot area for birdwatching, as nesting there are around 100 species of birds, i.e. one third of the total number of birds that can be observed in the Republic of Moldova. Do not miss the chance to watch the birds in their five natural habitats: in floodplains, forests, waters, villages and farmlands, along the six birdwatching trails.
Orheiul Vechi Guesthouses
If you don’t have time to visit all of Moldova, but want to get a feel for what life is like in much of the country, try Eco-Resort Butuceni. All of its cottages are made of natural materials. Lucky guests can even sleep on a lijanca — a toasty bed that is an extension of a stove. Be ready for the Butuceni staff to put you to work. You will feed the animals, milk the cow, collect eggs from the henhouse, and perform other tasks that capture the charm of country living.
You can also attend cooking workshops. In one of them you will knead dough and make bread with your own hands. Food at Butuceni is phenomenal, and local music and dance add spice to the menu. If you’re an outdoorsy type, you can climb the Orheiul Vechi rocks. And in the evening you can relax in the guesthouse spa. If you come at Christmas, you can ride a horse-drawn sleigh and listen to traditional carols.
Casa din luncă
The Benzin family created the first rural guesthouse in rural Moldova, which they dubbed Casa Din Lunca. In addition to good food, you will find a pool and children’s playground. If you want to do more than just relax, there are bicycle trails near the guesthouse. To top off a great day, try a sunset boat ride on the Raut River.
The name Vila Roz comes from its owner’s love of roses, which she grew in her garden. Visitors can stay in the resort’s guesthouse or — if they feel like roughing it — in a nearby camping area. Vila Roz’s specialty is croissants with jam — and the staff will teach you how to make them if you want. The resort has bicycles for those who would like to pedal around discovering the Old Orhei. If you come at Easter, the resort offers egg-painting workshops.
Casa de sub stanca
This pension got its name from its location under the most beautiful rock formation in the village. In addition to enjoying traditional food and dance, going on carriage rides, and participating in cooking workshops at Casa De Sub Stanca, you can learn how to knit dolls and hats from corn husks — a traditional craft.
The story of the Gandrabur’s family began long time ago. Inspired by the long cherished desire to give a second life to the old household owned by the ancestors, the Gandrabur spouses spend a few years working abroad while pursuing the idea of coming back to Moldova and investing in the restoration of the old family nest and then turning it into a hospitable, beautifully arranged guest house called Valea Stîncii, serving traditional meals and local wine, carefully stored in the 17th century cellar. Welcome to rest in the old garden at Valea Stancii, breathe in deeply the magic air of countryside evenings and enjoy everything what has the name of tradition. Valea Stâncii is for you to discover local traditions, leaving behind your everyday worries and enjoying small, though important things.
Rotundu Residence is a very special place, a charming blend of pastoral and nowadays life. Catching your eyes throughout the location will be rather harmonious canvas of the traditional Moldovan style combined with the shabby chic design. In addition to delicious meals, flavored herbs tea and particularly soulful atmosphere, the hosts of the Residence will invite you to give a hand of help during special rural life events: in spring time it would be cleaning and trimming the vineyard and planting all sorts of greenery; in summer it would be fishing and harvesting seasonal fruits and vegetables; and in the fall time – welcome to harvesting grapes and winemaking.
Casa Verde Guest House is right in the heart of Orheiul Vechi cliffs, just look for house number nine from the entrance to Trebujeni village. Here you could dive into the surrounding beauty, feeling calm and cozy thanks to the hospitality extended by the hosts as well as by the atmosphere of ancient history. At Casa Verde you could sip your coffee out in the flower garden, on the terrace, and if it happens to be on a holiday – then you will be welcomed to Casa Mare. Moreover, besides tasting and enjoying traditional meals, you could also participate in cooking classes or other ways to learn about traditional Moldovan cuisine.
Have you set your mind on opening a few days getaway to Orheiul Vechi accompanied by your quadruped? Then you are welcome to stop at La Popas in Butuceni. At the invitation of the hosts of the house, you could enjoy here assorted dishes of traditional cuisine served with young homemade wine.