Old Orhei is a historical and archaeological complex, located in Trebujeni, at 60 km north-east of Chisinau, on river Raut.
It is famous for its well preserved cave monasteries. This territory was isolated from the outer world and it is supposed that, at the time when Christians came here, the caves were been already cut in the rocks by prehistoric tribes who had lived in the area. The Christians probably used the existing caves but the expansion of monastic life in the later middle ages and frequent Crimean and Budjak Tatar raids forced the monks to go deeper into inaccessible cliffs. They expanded the existing caves and created new ones. Some caves are well preserved nowadays.
Visiting Old Orhei you will see many caves carved in rocks, on the bank of river Raut. The oldest Orthodox skete ‘Pestere’ is located at a height of 60 m above Raut and it can be easily found due to the belfry that was raised above it, later. It consists of a rock church with an altar, a group of monastic cells and a corridor with stairs leading to Raut.
In 1821 it was dug a passageway of 20 m, which connected Pestere monastery to the Butuceni village, and built a new entrance, near which, in 1890, it was raised the belfry. In 1915, nearby, an Orthodox church was built and the cave monastery lost its significance.