Churches and monasteries across Moldova were destroyed or severely damaged under Soviet rule. Today many are flourishing. We recently visited three of the country’s most famous and beautiful monasteries with a group of Peace Corps volunteer friends.
Orhei Vechi, Curchi and Tipova are quite different from each other but are all powerful illustrations of the importance of faith in Moldova, especially the Orthodox Christianity practiced by most people.
Orhei Vechi, or “Old Orhei,” above, is Moldova’s most famous site. Located less than an hour’s drive from Chisinau, it is both a church and an archaeological complex, with caves, grottos and religious structures that reflect different civilizations. They are situated on promintories overlooking a spectacular view.
The Curchi Monastery was founded in the 1770s and became one of the largest monasteries in Moldova. Foremost among its buildings is the imposing red baroque church you see here, dedicated to the virgin birth. When we visited, we were lucky to hear a priest ring the church’s bells and fill the air with music.
Located along the Dniester River, the Tipova Monastery has a lovely church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Much older and even more striking are the cave monastery and stone cave cells reached after walking down a steep path. A community of monks worshipping here dates back centuries.
Hiking down to see the cave monastery at Tipova took our breath away. For that matter, so did all three of the monasteries.