Sixty kilometers away from Chisinau stretches the modern city of Orhei. Only 20 km away from the modern city you can easily plan your trip to an important archaeological and spiritual complex, Orheiul Vechi (which means Old Orhei).
This complex is dating from back in the days, from Dacians tribes, going through different invasions (by Mongols and Tatars) until the time of Stefan cel Mare in the 15th century. Located on the shore of the Raut River, this complex is a treasure for those seeking to feel the atmosphere from ancient times. There is a whole range of ruins, fortifications, caves and monasteries ready to be discovered and rediscovered.
The bridge to Butuceni it is the sign you are approaching the village of Trebujeni. This is the place where you should begin your visit, from the Orheiul Vechi Exhibition Centre. The English-language map you will find here to buy it will help a lot. The small exhibition displays ancient objects. The Centre has six rooms and a welcoming restaurant. To feel the local taste you can go to Agro Pensiunea Butuceni. Their rooms are decorated in the Moldavian traditional style. Old and modern are related here at the pension, because the owners added a pool as well. In the restaurant you can enjoy very good home cooked meals, wines from local vineyards and interesting lessons on how to prepare by yourself cornmeal polenta, known as mamaliga by the locals.
Make sure to have at least half a day to cover everything that is to be seen. The Orthodox Cave Monastery is probably the most important place that you want to visit. It has been carved inside of a cliff, close to the river. The two signs that show you are in the right place are the bell tower and a cross rose on top of the rocks. In the 13th century monks decided to build this monastery, but no one inhabited until late in the 18th century. From 1996 a few monks decided to go back to this spiritual place and they dedicated their time to its restoration. A brick archway is marking the entrance in the cave.
In 1905, an Orthodox church has been built and can be visited while you are there. It is interesting that the access in the church has been forbidden by the Soviets in 1944. Until 1996 the church remained abandoned.
Other important things to see there are a defense wall dating from the 15th century, the ethnographic museum and the caves from the valley.
The easiest way to reach the Cave Monastery is through the village of Butuceni.