Tsipova Monastery

On Saturday I took my first excursion out of Chisinau. Armando, an advisor on our project who comes from Peru, and I recruited one of the interpreters' cousins (Ghenadie) to drive and his wife (Daniella) to interpret.

The day dawned cold and foggy. The temperature was just above freezing and the dampness . We had an excellent road for the first hour, then turned on a side road with many large pot-holes so we had to slow down. The last twenty minutes we followed a dirt road so Ghienadi nursed his Opal along.

We arrived in the Tsipova Monastery parking lot and discovered two groups of tourists had already arrived, one on a city bus and the other in a micro-bus. Outside the church was a well (still dry) being dug very slowly, as workers hauled up the dirt one bucket load at a time.

Slowly Digging a Well

Calugar (Monk) Policarp greeted us and showed us the church that was built in 1776. He explained that it was used as a church until 1954 when the government decided that an orphanage should use it as a garage and warehouse. Now they are working to restore it. They are painting the walls with designs but I do not think they have done research into authentic old frescoes.

Calugar (Monk) Policarp

Freshly Painted Church

Then the monk lead us down a steep path towards the old monastery.

River Nistru

We walked slowly down the path for ten minutes until we saw rooms that had been carved into caves.

He explained that archaeologists had discovered relics in the caves dating from the twelfth century BC. During the thirteenth century AD the caves were first used as a monastery. Over time they expanded the complex until they had rooms for a hundred monks and a hotel for numerous visitors. There was a chapel in one of the caves. In others were kitchens and bathing rooms. In all there were twelve levels of caves in the cliffs.

School Group Touring Monastery Caves

He told us that there were many stories associated with these caves and that it was difficult to separate facts from myths. He showed us the place where human sacrifices were believed to have been made to the God Zeus. He told us that many people believe that Moldova's patron saint Stefan Cel Mare (The Great) was also put to death here. After he completed his tour we decided to hike down to the Nistru River, Moldova's largest. Across the river was the break-away province Transdniester and a large town. We heard constant barking of dogs.

We had been told that there was a waterfall (they called it a "cascade") not far away, so we started hiking up the river, then up a very small tributary. Occasionally we saw shepherds who assured us that we were going the right direction and that it was not far. Nearly an hour later we found ourselves in a small canyon where a thirty-foot waterfall roared into a large pool. If the temperature had been fifty degrees higher I would have been tempted to take a shower. Instead we took pictures and started back as it was almost 3:00 and we had not eaten any lunch.

Driver, Interpreter and Armando
Admire the Waterfall

Fortunately there was a shortcut back to the chapel where we had parked. We bought a few icons and made a contribution for the monastery. We ate apples and cookies in the car and discovered that the only shop in the village would reopen in twenty minutes. We decided not to wait and I napped during much of the drive back to Chisinau.


Go To Main Moldova Page