Stari Orkhei historical and archaeological complex. The «Stari Orkhei» reserve arose in the place of a perished medieval Moldavian town. It is situated close to the town of Orgeev at the Peshtere cape formed by the Reut river bend. The reserve includes the part of the surrounding territory with the villages of Butucheny and Morovaya. This extremely interesting place of Moldavia reflected many characteristic features of the land, its history, nature and folklore.
«Stari Orkhei» is first of all the nature itself, lyric and severe, virgin and transformed by people’s care. Being unusually various it appears before us at one moment in the form of canyons of deep valeys and steep slopes of rocky banks and at another as velvety meadows, green tracts of maize, vast spaces of orchards and vineyards. Of great interest is the animal world of this land. In almost inaccessible rocks, dense forests which in some places cover the slopes of the Reut and its tributaries Ivancha and Draginich, dwell rare in Moldavia, only in this place retained species of reptiles and birds.
«Stari Orkhei» is the personification of history. Unique archaeological objects are found at the territory of the reserve. They tell us about the mode of life and culture of the tribes and peoples who inhabited this land — from ancient peoples of the neolithic epoch who lived tens of thousands years ago till the appearance of the Moldavians.
Excavations of the medieval Orkhei, the town-fortress of the XIV—XVIth centuries, discover some unknown pages in the history of Moldavia. We learned about the events of the times past, about the struggle of local population with the alien invaders who often ruined the town. We can observe the art of the Moldavian architects who erected fortifications, palaces, churches, the high mastership of the handicraftsmen — stone-cutters, smiths, jewellers and potters, their wonderful pieces of art being kept now in the museums.
The environs of the medieval town attract our attention by a great number of caves created not only by nature but hollowed out in the rocks by those who in ancient times seeked refuge from the vanity of the world. Of particular interest are the two small and secluded cave monasteries. The oldest one consisting of an extensive church and monastic cells is of the same age as Orkhei. The other one which presents a peculiar suite of five caves was founded in 1675. It strikes by the severe mystery of its appearance and unusual picturesqueness of the forms.
The reserve is not only the past of the land. The villages of Butucheny and Morovaya which, as some others, are included in this original museum in the open air show us also the life of this land in the latest years. We can learn the ethnographical peculiarities of the people’s mode of life, wonderful peasant art in which common national traditions find its peculiar local expression.
Some interesting examples of people’s plastic art made of wood and stone are found in the villages. Despite of the religious character of sculpture the human images presented in it are full of profound realism.
Making use of abundant natural material the stone-cutters from the villages created their original style in people’s architecture. As rare uncommon phenomenon appear before us country-side buildings made of cockle-shell stone covered with fretwork and painting, decorated with columns, caps and ornamental flowers.
The country dwelling interior discovers the picturesque richness of the appointments. Carpets, fabrics, embroidery and utensils fascinate by their taste delicacy and mastership. This art created by peasants’ hands is pierced with the ingenuousness of feeling, their spiritual warmth and poetry.
Looking at these wonderful works taken out from gloom and oblivion one can understand the greatness of people’s art and its eternity.