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"Old Orhei"

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Click here to enlarge  The ancient city of Orheuil Vechi or Old Orhei, sometimes referred to as Trebujeni, is out in the boondocks of Moldova. It's a bit of an archaeological wonder, holding the remnants of a civilization ancient enough to think that stone tools were the height of sophistication, as well as the ruins of a medieval village. The remnants of this village - including the vestiges of a mosque, two mausoleums, a caravan-seraglio, three bathhouses and a typical Moldovan house - are open to the public. The rest of the complex includes an ancient fortress built by the indefatigable Stefan cel Mare in the 14th century and destroyed by the equally indefatigable Tartars in 1499, and an ancient monastery carved out of the face of a lime cliff.
The cave-monastery of Butuceni was built by monks during the 13th century and is a classic example of the role that architecture played in the medieval ages. It was built not only as a place of worship but also as a refuge during times of adversity. The interior is an almost seamless web of corridors, devoid of geometrical lines or sharp turns, with light penetrating the gloom through rectangular doors hewn out of the stone. At some stage during the 18th century the faithful from neighboring Butuceni dug a tunnel through to the chapel so that they could practice their religion in relative secrecy.
Butuceni… The village’s face looks strangely at us from the pages of the ethnographical publications (very few in number) and advertisements. The village hides its secrets beyond the Chronos’s curtain put on the eyes of the ancient cliffs.
Peter Brueghel has a painting named “Ikar’s fall”. The philosophy of the painting is almost the same as the philosophy of these villagers: something appears, something disappears, but the local law, the local flow of time and the peculiar logic of existence rule the life here.

The patriarchal way of living here is generated not only by the traditions, geographical settlement and the special statute of natural and historic-cultural reservation, but also by the isolation from the realities of the modern society. Maybe the miraculous beauty of this place is due exactly to these specifics.







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