Orhei

Orhei is situated in central Moldova, 48 km north of Chisinau, on the bank of the Raut River. It is the administrative center of Orhei raion (county), with a population of about 30,000 people. Orhei is one of the oldest cities of Moldova, established in 1437. Its name originates from the Orhei medieval fortress that is located within the Orheiul Vechi archeological complex. The fact that Orhei was situated close to the Nistru River, an important trade route, helped it to become a commercial center. Today, it is home to agro-processing and light manufacturing enterprises and Chateau Vartely winery.

Attractions

Wine: Orhei is home to Chateau Vartely winery, one of the Moldova and Eastern Europe’s newest and most modern wineries. It is situation only a few kilometers from the town center on a hill overlooking the city. The winery offers daily tours and tastings. It has a nice restaurant with views of the city, a small but elegant hotel, and a wine shop. Branesti winery, which like Cricova and Milesti Mici also has deep underground wine cellars (only not so vast), is also located in the Orhei raion, in the village of Branesti, which visitors must pass through on the way to the Orheiul Vechi archeological complex.

Culture: The Orheiul Vechi Monastery, museum, and archeological complex together form the most famous tourist attraction in Orhei and possibly Moldova. The complex is situation at an “S” shaped bend in the Raut River with dramatic rocky bluffs into which are carved many caves and cave monasteries that offer picturesque views of the river, and the fields and villages that surround it. The villages around Orheiul Vechi, Butuceni and Trebujeni, are home to several rural pension & guesthouses. In addition, for two days each August, Orheiul Vechi plays host to a popular open air folk music festival, Gustar Music Festival.

Another popular attraction near Orhei is Curchi Monastery, considered to be one of the most beautiful Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Moldova. Within the city of Orhei, the Saint Dumitru Cathedral is an important attraction. The cathedral is made of white stone and is located the entrance to the city. It was built in 1632-1636 to honor Vasile Lupu, the ruler of Moldova from 1634 to 1653, and contains a medieval bronze statue of the ruler.

In addition, there are several interesting museums located in Orhei or nearby.

  • The Museum of History and Ethnography of Orhei is situated in the house of Mircea Bengulescu, a former city architect. The museum is dedicated to the historical and archeological research conducted within the Orhei raion. The museum’s collection contains more than 20,000 artifacts, the most valuable being collections of old coins and books. Contact details: Renaşterii Naţionale str. 23; tel. (+373-235) 20-298; open Monday-Friday from 10:00 to 17:00.
  • The Orheiul Vechi Museum Complexincludes the medieval town of Orhei, the fortress “Orheiul Vechi”, the fortress “Trebujeni – Potârcă” (IV – III centuries BC), the Getic fortress (IV – III centuries BC), the popular architecture complex (early XXth century) in the village of Butuceni. Contact details: Trebujeni village, Orhei raion; tel. (+373 35) 56-042; open Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 to 16:00.
  • The Alexandru Donici Museum is located at the Donici family estate. In 1806, the writer Alexandru Donici was born here. It includes an old mansion, a church founded by the writer’s father, family graves, and a spring. Contact details: Donici village, Orhei raison; tel. (+373-235) 73-549; open Monday-Friday from 10:00 to 17:00.

Rural: Because of the natural and cultural attractions in Orhei and the region, several rural pensions & guesthouses have opened in the area, particularly in the villages Trebujeni and Butuceni, which provide accommodation, food, and other activities for tourists.

Nature: The Orhei area has the richest forest resource in Moldova, the Codri forest. Tourists can visit these old forests for leisure, to watch picturesque sites, to take hiking or biking tours or to picnic

Special Interests

Traditional carpets.Orhei is home to Grinfor, which produces quality hand-made wool carpets in different styles: floral, oriental, modern and traditional carpets. Tourists can visit the production and buy carpets at the factory’s shop. Contact details: Pacii str. 5, Orhei; tel. (+373) (0)69 118 957; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; website: www.grincarpet.com 

Jewish cemetery. On the eve of World War II, 80% of Orhei’s population was Jewish. Today only a small remnant remains. Thousands of Orhei Jews were killed during the Holocaust and many other emigrated. But the Jewish memory lives on at the Orhei Jewish cemetery, which is one of the oldest in Europe at 450 years-old. The cemetery contains approximately 15,000 grave stones, some dating back to the 18th century, and also a few memorials to the Holocaust. One, from 1991, says: “To our compatriots, Jews, victims of the Holocaust”. 4,000 Jews were killed in Orhei, and their names are in the memorial.

Festivals & Events

Getting There

By car: Orhei is 48 km north of Chisinau. The journey normally takes 45 minutes. If driving to Orhei from Romania, the closest border posts are Sculeni (Ungheni) and Albita (Leuseni). If driving to Orhei from Ukraine, the closest border posts are Soroca and Dubasari.

By bus: There is regular bus service between Orhei and Chisinau and other cities and towns in Moldova. Check the online bus schedules (in Romanian) for details, make sure you select Chisinau Gara, the station serving destinations in central Moldova.

Accommodation, Restaurants

  • Chateau Vartely, Eliberarii str. 170/B, Orhei, Moldova, Tel: (+373 235) 31 013
  • Hotel Codru, Vasile Lupu str. 36, Orhei, Moldova, Tel: (+373 235) 24 821
  • Doi Haiduci, Chisinau-Soroca road, Ivancea village, Orhei, Tel: (+373 235) 27 989

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