Orheiul Vechi

Photo in the Public Domain.

Orheiul Vechi Archaeological Landscape is part of the Tentative list of Moldova in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Orheiul Vechi Archaeological Landscape is home to several important regional political, military, economic, and cultural centers dating from the Early Iron Age through the Middle Ages. The strategic defensive advantages of this landscape led to the development of three remarkable settlements in particular: the Getae fortresses (from the 6th through the 3rd centuries BCE), the Mongol town of Şehr al-Cedid (ca. 1330-1369 CE), and the medieval town of Orhei (ca. 1370-1540 CE). The location of the landscape at the confluence of geographic and cultural zones can be seen in the many religious edifices displaying the succession and coexistence of different religions and architectural styles.

Map of Orheiul Vechi

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

Community Reviews

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Malta - 27-Feb-24 -

Orheiul Vechi Archaeological Landscape (T) by Clyde

I visited what can be described as Moldova's best tWHS (much better than its sole WHS Struve location for sure!) in 2023. The Archaeological Landscape of Old Orhei or Orheiul Vechi in Romanian is a perfect half day trip from Moldova's capital Chisinau, approximately 60 kilometres away.

The ancient city of Orheiul Vechi is a natural and historical complex located on a narrow bend of the Raut River. It is best visited by car as the different components are quite far from each other on foot. 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 Paleolithic, Eneolithic, and Iron Age, so it really has potential as a Cultural Landscape. In theory, a ticket must be paid once you approach Orheiul Vechi, but this is only applied for its main component, the Orthodox monastery and the several caves with inscriptions. Upon getting close to the area at the base of the valley, you'll be asked to park your car, pay the entrance ticket and walk quite uphill for a couple of hundred metres. I visited all the other components at leisure without having paid any ticket, namely the remains of the Tatar Baths, the remains of the Governor's Palace and Medieval Fortress, the Medieval and Geto-Dacian Walls, and the remains of a mosque and a church.

The cave hermitages and/or chapels, and the Orthodox monastery are the main components for which you'll definitely have to pay. They really are set in a picture-perfect natural landscape. The Orthodox monastery is still inhabited by a handful of Orthodox monks who maintain the church at the top of the hill. Some of the caves are still functional as chapels and they contain an array of historical artifacts and Old Church Slavonic inscriptions dating from the 1690s, which testify that the Hajduk took shelter in the caves, while hiding from the Ottoman Empire.

Orheiul Vechi contains traces of different civilizations, including the remnants of earthen and wooden walls of a Geto–Dacian fortress (6th to 1st centuries BC), the 14th century Golden Horde Fort of Shehr al-Jedid, a Moldavian fort and citadel dating from the 14th-16th centuries. The visitor centre needs to invest more in information boards in English and better signage at the trails but on the whole I'm glad I put more effort into visiting more of what Moldova has to offer apart from the Struve WHS.


Persian Globetrotter

Spain - Iran - 18-Dec-23 -

My visit to Orhei Vechi was made in October 2023, I had already been touring Moldova for several days, and I have to say that in general Moldova, unlike what many people think, is a country that has many interesting places to offer, I find it incredible that Moldova only has the ridiculous Struve Geodesic Arc as the only WHS.
Orhei Vechi is undoubtedly one of those places that should be inscribed within the world heritage of Moldova.

To get to Orhei Vechi I took a Marshrutka from the central bus station of Chisinau towards the village of Butuceni, I must mention that this village itself is quite picturesque and interesting, it is a traditional Moldovan village, wooden houses painted blue and a quite pleasant rural atmosphere, from the village there is a path that ascends to the cliffs where the incredible views of Orhei Vechi are located with an imposing monastery (where a wedding was taking place), a tower and a cross, nearby there is also another cave monastery dug into the rock. I took the last marshrutka to Chisinau again, leaving at 15:45pm, remember to go early in the morning to make the most of the time in the area.

Read more from Persian Globetrotter here.

Corinne Vail

USA - 08-Dec-11 -

I just got back from a weekend jaunt to Moldova. As previously mentioned, this small country sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine gets few visitors, although, I think the country is actively trying to change this. To get there, we just rented a car for the day which was relatively inexpensive. The area surrounding Orhei is famous for its codrii or old growth forest. The site is located just off the Raut river and it was a very pretty area, even though it was winter and the trees and fields were bare. The limestone and shell cliffs where the monastery is located is pretty spectacular. Entering the 600 year old Pestere Monastaire, the air immediately became hot and humid, the stairs were dark, and it gave the cave a relative feeling of mystery. The monastery itself is one of the most impressing little sites I've ever visited. Only a couple of monks reside there presently, and they were busy at work cleaning the pulpit. We were shown the old monks' cells, the earthquake crack, the stone "balcony" and really enjoyed the history from the head monk. I'm not sure how long the country can maintain the sanctity of this spot, since it is touted as the most important in the country. I hope it is soon inscribed and awarded some funds to try and keep it as much the same as possible. If you happen to be in the vicinity of Moldova, stop by and definitely head to Orheiul Vechi. It really is worth the trip. To read more on Moldova and see plenty of photos, please go to my website at www.reflectionsenroute.com.

Szucs Tamas

Hungary - 24-Mar-11 -

Orheiul Vechi Archaeological Landscape (T) by Szucs Tamas

The Republic of Moldova is not a very touristy place and really has no extraordinary places to offer. (The most touristy part is the Cricova wine cellars - the so called underground city, that - for obvious reasons will not find its way to the WH.) The second most important tourist attraction is Old Orhei (Orheiul Vechi). Theoretically you can visit the site by public transport - but buses to Ivancea are rare, and from there you have to find another bus. We rented a car in Chisinau.

The northbound motorway to Orhei and Balti is well signposted. After a half an hour we reached the mountainous region of the Raut river gorge. We knew that the exit to Orhei Vechi must be somewhere here, but to find the actual place was not that easy. We missed the small signboard at least three times - but the local people were helpful and showed the way for the fourth time. (Fortunately almost everybody speaks or at least understands Russian.) Afrter finding the exit everything turned to be easy. Ivancea on the way to the site is a pretty Moldavian village, with all houses painted light blue. After Ivancea we arrived to Orhei Vechi itself. Before crossing the Raut river there is a small visitor center where you can buy the ticket, and leaflets about the site. (English and Russian also available) On the other side there is a small mound. Climbing up you encounter some children trying to sell artefacts or begging some money. On the top there are the churches and the entrance to the main attraction, the cave monasteries.

The complex comprises about 30caves, some of them inaccessible without special equipment, arranged in several horizontal rows in the calcareous rock on a portion of about 250 meters. In the calcareous walls of the cells there are many incised signs. The monastery was formed of a nice cave church with an altar, nave, pro-nave and patio, with a impressing number of monastic cells, and a corridor of stairs to the Raut, partly ruined, with a newer tunnel. Next to the steeple, over the cave church on the verge edge of the headland a huge stone cross dated with the XVIII century is installed.

The whole conservation area is huge, there are traces of several buildings. A bath, an ancient fortress, and other structures. The ruins are not higher than a meter or so. There is also a small ethnographical museum in the village. The gorge the village, the ruins, the churches are really atmospheric, to walk around, climb the hills and wander around the dirt roads give enough sight for a half or even a whole day if you want to see everything.

The way back was much shorter - less than 30 minutes.

Though Orhei Vechi is much less scenic than the comparable sites in Romania (monasteries of Moldva, wooden churches of Maramures), it is a must see if you are in Moldova.

Full Name
Orheiul Vechi Archaeological Landscape
Cultural Landscape - Relict
2017 Revision

Successor to TWHS from 2007 with the same name

2017 Added to Tentative List

The site has 1 locations

Orheiul Vechi Archaeological Landscape (T)
WHS 1997-2024