The 8 most beautiful monasteries in Moldova
There aren’t many countries where there are SO MANY monasteries as in Moldova. Monks are treated like kings here, religion is really important and a visit to a monastery is a daily routine for most people. Officially the state and the church are separated, but basically everyone in Moldova is ortohodox Christen. So you can imagine how important the monasteries in Moldova are. When you’re travelling in Moldova you will for sure visit some of the monasteries. In this article I share my favorite monasteries in Moldova with you!
Important 1: you can visit all the monasteries in Moldova for free. You have the feeling that you have to pay in any monastery? This is a donation, so it’s not obligated.
Important 2: as a woman it’s important to cover your head when you enter a monastery. So bring a scarf to cover your hairs to avoid any problems. You don’t want to be disrespectful, right? If you don’t have any scarf in most monasteries there are some scarfs at the entrance that you can borrow.
Most beautiful monasteries in Moldova
1. Ciuflea Monastery in Chisinau
Most people start their trip in Moldova in the capital Chisinau. Here you can already visit your first monastery: the Ciuflea Monastery. The monastery is at the beginning of the main street, not far away from the train station. I love the contrast of the blue walls and the golden domes.
Also read: 11 cool things to do in Chisinau, Moldova
2. Noul Neamt Monastery in Chitcani, near Tiraspol
Another monastery in Moldova that I love is the monastery of Noul Neamt. Although, Moldova.. There’s a discussion about this, because some people say it’s part of Moldova, some say it’s part of Transnistria. Transnistria is a region that wants to be independent. They even have their own passport control, borders and currency. But Moldova and the rest of the world don’t acknowledge it as a real country, just as part of Moldova. Nonetheless, you can best visit the Noul Neamt Monastery from Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria. It’s only a couple of kilometers south of Tiraspol, in the village named Chitcani. This is why the monastery is sometimes called Chitcani Monastery as well. It’s a pretty big complex where not only monks live, but also some other people (homeless, sick etc.). I loved the decorated walls and ceilings in the buildings here. Definitely one of my favorites!
3. Cave monastery of Orheiul Vechi
Most monasteries you will see from miles away. Not the monastery of Orheiul Vechi. At least not the original one. This is because it’s a cave monastery: the monks build the complex within the rocks. The view for these monks is not bad, if I must say. A bit further you can visit the new monastery, that is visible and on top of the hill. The best place to visit the cave monastery of Orheiul Vechi is Trebujeni. I stayed in the lovely guesthouse Vila Roz. The surroundings are amazing as well, so walk around in the area if you have some time. The river cuts through the landscape like a knife and is surrounded by some kind of canyon. Beautiful!
4. Curchi Monastery
One of the most beautiful monasteries in Moldova that I have visited is definitely the monastery in Curchi. Maybe because the red color of the building matches perfectly with the autumn colors. Also it’s a really well maintained monastery. It’s not without reason that it’s a popular place for photoshoots (especially for weddings). Inside you can’t take pictures, but do go inside. The building looks big, but inside you will notice how small it actually is.
Curchi is also a great place if you wanna combine your visit to the monastery with some hiking. The monastery of Curchi is surrounded by forest. There is a nice hiking trail from Curchi to Donici for about 7,5 kilometers. It’s marked by a blue stripe. If you can’t find it in the forest anymore, just search for some blue scarfs along the road. It’s a pretty easy hike, only the first part you walk up a bit, the rest is flat. Unfortunately you also have to walk the same trail back if you park the car in Curchi. It can be useful to use a transfer or taxi for this.
5. Capriana Monastery
One of the oldest monasteries in Moldova is the Capriana Monastery. It was build in 1429. It’s a beautiful complex, but not only the buildings make it one of my favorite monasteries in Moldova. The surroundings of Capriana are amazing as well. It’s surrounded by forest and it’s a great starting point for hikes. You can even hike all the way to the next monastery: the Condrita Monastery. This trail is about 12 kilometers.
6. Condrita Monastery
From the Capriana Monastery you can hike to Condrita Monastery, although it’s only a 10 minute drive so you can reach it by car as well. It’s one of the only monasteries with a restaurant for visitors. It’s next to the parking lot. So if you wanna enjoy a meal made by monks you should definitely visit this one.
7. Hirjauca Monastery
Like many monasteries in Moldova the Hirjauca Monastery was closed during the communist Soviet times. Many monasteries were used as a sanatorium: a place where people can recover from long-term illness. After the Soviet period the monasteries were used for their original purpose again. I loved that this monastery looks different again – and by this point I had seen already lots of monasteries. The monks are still producing wine the traditional way (I was there in October). Also this is the only monastery where a monk felt obligated to bless me. The water smelled weird and sticky on my forehead, but it’s a new experience I can add to my list.
8. Cave monastery of Tipova
So Tipova is a bit far away from most places, but it’s definitely worth a visit. You will find the biggest cave monastery in Moldova here. And not only from Moldova: it’s the biggest one in eastern Europe! There is a new monastery that you have to pass to continue to the old cave monastery. It’s almost like an open air museum, you will reach it after a few minutes walking down. It’s incredible how monks were living here hundreds of years ago. Nowadays it’s abandoned, but it’s still a special place. And the view over the Dnjestr river is super nice as well.
It’s another great place to combine a visit to a monstery with a hike in the beautiful surroundings. Apparently there are even waterfalls in this area, although I haven’t seen them. I stayed in a lovely guesthouse in Lalova: Hanul lui Hanganu. It’s only a couple of kilometers to the monastery from here and it’s one of my favorite places to stay in Moldova. The sarmale (stuffed cabbage or wine leaves) is incredible!
These are the monasteries in Moldova I have visited and enjoyed checking out. Do you know another great monastery in Moldova or do you have any questions about this country? Tell me in the comments or send me an email!
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