Orheiul Vechi, a place of stark natural beauty, is situated about 50 km north of Chişinău. Occupying a remote, rocky ridge over the Răut River, the complex is known for its Cave Monastery, but also includes ruins ranging from the earliest days of the Dacian tribes more than 2000 years ago through the Mongol and Tatar invasions of the early Middle Ages and the time of Ştefan cel Mare. The complex is in the village of Butuceni, where a small bridge over the Răut took us to the trailhead for a 15-minute hike up to the Cave Monastery. Further along the ridge, we saw the twin spires of an Orthodox church dedicated to the Ascension of St Mary, built in 1905 and recently restored. The church was shut down by the Soviets in 1944 and remained abandoned throughout the communist regime. From here a steep shortcut leads us down to Vila Etníca in the village proper, where we had dinner (Greek salad 70 MDL, Pumpkin soup 60 MDL, Chicken shish-kebab with roasted potatoes with mushrooms 130 MDL, Local dessert 45 MDL, Pelesterca water 0,7 l / 65 MDL). There are also several old-fashioned hotels and guesthouses designed in a very traditional style. Entrance and parking in the area for the truck and 2 persons – 40 MDL.

Parking location – Butuceni: 47.306974N 28.961882E