Name: Orheiul Vechi. Note that the 'h' is pronounced as the
Scottish 'ch' in 'loch'. Vechi is pronouned 'wag'. The word 'vechi' simply means 'old'. In contradiction to English,
adjectives are often written behind nouns; the ending '-ul' is then added to the noun. Hence, Orheiul Vechi stands for
Old Orhei, and the Russian word is just the translation of the name:
Оргеев (Staryi Orgeyev). The 'modern' town of
→Orhei is around 20 km away in the west.
Location: Some 35 km north-east of
→Chişinău, Orheiul Vechi stretches along river Răut,
which flows into the river Nistru (Dniestr) near Dubăsari further to the east.
The more you get to the east, the deeper the river valley becomes. Here, the Răut
is cutting into a thick layer of soft limestone.
Population: Recently, the monastery is inhabited by a couple of monks again.
Near Old Orhei there's the small village of Butuceni and, on the other side of the river, the
village of Trebujeni. The latter seems to have around 1,000 inhabitants, Butuceni is much smaller.
The rather small river Răut has created a deep valley during the last 10,000 years. The surface layer is
dominated by very soft coquina (also: shell limestone). It's even possible to pull out the seashells with your bare hands.
The river meanders in a deep S-shaped valley through the plateau, the difference between the top of the plateau
and the river is probably around 60 metres. The cliffs are riddled with holes like a giant Swiss cheese.
Most of Moldova consists of rolling hills and some flat areas, so it's quite a surprise to see such a wild, rugged
and certainly unique setting.
There are several buses a day running between →Chişinău and Orheiul Vechi.
It's much more difficult to get there from nearby →Orhei: There's only one daily bus,
leaving from Orhei at 12:45. Although less than 20 km away, it takes 1½ hours, the fare is 5 Lei). Unfortunately,
there's no bus back to Orhei. The last bus to Chisinau seems to leave at 4 pm - after that, there seems to be nothing.
You can't even hitchhike, since there are no cars or horse carts passing by. All you can do is walking to the next village
(Brăneşti, about 5 km) and trying to get away from there.