On Saturday, Ghena took us, Kelly, and our new Estonian/Canadian friend Robert to Orheiul Vechi or "Old Orhei" as it's called. There is a complex of caves and a monastery built into them.
From centuries B.C. it was used as a hilltop fortress, surrounded by a river. Later, Stefan Cel Mare ("Stefan the Great"-- Moldova's historical patron figure, king, and military leader) built a fortress there. Control of this territory has passed from Germanic tribes to Slavs, to Romans, to Greeks, to Mongols, to Turks, to Moldovans, to Russians... you get the picture.
This was the nearby village as viewed from a cliff high above.
In the distance you see the monastery and cave complex there where monks dug out a dormitory and used to live by the hundreds. That's what we toured.
There's a village just under the complex. This is a "traditional village home" renovated for tourism.
The belltower and entrance to the monastery/cave complex. They rang right at 3 o'clock.
These were the dormitories. This was pitch black, except for the flash of the camera. You could see on the walls where thousands of candles had been burnt through the centuries by monks.Not pictured: The worship area inside where the Romanian Orthodox priests still work and people worship. There were a lot of icons, candles, and a monk-like priest who lives there and keeps people quiet.
There was also a sign in Russian about a patriarch of the church who, just before he died, prophesied that one day there would be telephones without cords (cellphones) that would connect people all over the world, and connect them via sattelite to the cosmos. It is through these devices that the Antichrist will communicate with people before the end-times. In other words: "please avoid using your cellphone here."
Here's Joni on a ledge just outside the dormitory and worship area. Yes, it was cold. It's snowing in Chisinau as I write this post.
A cross on top of the plateau/complex. There are only traces of all the old fortresses that used to exist here.
We didn't learn much about the history while we were there, but saw some historical artifacts at a museum. The only somewhat-complete history I can find is on this website, but the English is isn't great. It was a fun time!