From Curchi Monastery, we continued on to Orhei Vechi, stopping briefly at a small monastery that was out of the way for a peek. Then we continued on until we reached a vantage point. Orhei Vechi is located in a large bowl-like valley, with cliffs on two sides and the river weaving along the edges. We could see the Orhei Vechi Monastery on the other side of the bowl.
From here, we took a short detour to view the remains of a fortress, as well as some Turkish baths left from one of the various points in history Moldova was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.
Caves in Orhei Vechi:
We also hiked up to some caves, which though natural and impressive, have been covered in graffiti and litter.
Orhei Vechi Monastery:
Then we finally arrived at our main destination: Orhei Vechi Monastery. We looked around the small museum, then walked with a guide up to the cave monastery, located under the bell tower. Inside, there is a small chapel and a room with a low ceiling carved into the cave. This is where the monks lived and spent most of their time, laying and sitting on the hard stone floor. The monastery dates back to the 1400s and also includes a church.
Our last stop on the tour of Orhei Vechi was a “peasant” house. This is a preserved old home that shows how Moldovans used to live. There was the main house, which consisted of a living room to the left (with space above the soba, or stove for about 8 children to sleep), a central hall, and a casa mare to the right. The casa mare would have only been used for guests or when there were special events and occasions. In another building, there was a separate room that would have been used in the cooler months for the entire family. Two small beds would have been for the parents, and a sleeping loft of sorts above the soba would have slept about 10 children. There was also a beci (pronounced “betch”, underground root and wine cellar) next to this.
This wrapped up our guided tour, and we headed back to Chisnau for the night.