Not far from Chisinau you can find a place that offers you a rare, breath taking view. It is called Old Orhei (Romanian: Orheiul Vechi) and it is a natural, historical and archaeological complex situated on the banks of the Raut River.

The complex is known for its Cave Monastery, but also includes ruins ranging from the earliest days of the Dacian tribes more than 2 000 years ago through the Mongol and Tatar invasions of the early Middle Ages and the time of Prince Stephen the Great.  Also there are 2 museums there, both situated in Butuceni village. One museum contains objects recovered during archaeological digs and the other one is a small ethnographic museum.

The Legend says that the first people established here about 40 000 years ago.

There are a lot of caves that were dug in the rocks of the Raut River many of which are about 2 000 years old. The past of these caves is covered by legends.

One Legend says that a long time ago the Old Orhei was run by the burgomaster Gangur. He was old and very rich. All the cellars of his palace were filled with gold and even the carriage was made of pure gold and its wheels were made of silver.  This carriage was kept in a room with iron gates and it was only taken out once a year, during Easter. 40 horses were pulling this carriage.  That’s how heavy it was!

Gangur was a very wealthy man. He was even richer even than his ruler – Prince Stephen the Great. But the Turkish Sultan learned of Gangur’s riches. He gathered his army and marched with all his troops to Orhei.

The Turks conquered the city (Orhei), approached Gangur’s palace but he was not there. Gangur locked himself with all his riches in the Cave Monastery. The Sultan ordered to get Gangur out of the Monastery at any cost.

Meanwhile at that Monastery among other people lived the mean and greedy abbot Paisie who lost his mind at the sight of gold and he was dreaming about having at least some of this enormous wealth.

On a dark night pretending that he is going to bring some water he actually went secretly to the Sultan. That same night, through the underground passage the Sultan and his army entered the monastery and destroyed the entire army of Gangur.

The abbot received his gold and took a boat in order to get away from these places but the waters of the Raut River swirled around, agitated unexpectedly and swallowed Paisie together with his gold.

The Turks took a part of Gangur’s goods but they could not take everything with them so the other part of the goods including the gold carriage were built it in the underground caves. The Turks were planning to return and take them. So no one knows if this wealth really existed, if the Turks did return to get those goods or maybe they are still hidden in the underground caves.

After a trip through Old Orhei’s history and Legends you can enjoy some veritable Moldovan food and wine at the rustic guest houses that are situated not far from the historical complex. The traditional food combined with an extraordinary picturesque view will make you understand why Moldova is considered to be a piece of Heaven.



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