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Republic of Moldova, June 2014

Moldova is a small landlocked country in Eastern Europe, tucked between Romania to its west and Ukraine to its north, east and south. Chișinău is the capital and largest city. It gained its independence from the Soviet Union in December 1991. The official language is Romanian (also referred to as Moldovan).

Chișinău

Thursday, 5th June 2014

Cathedral Park (Central Park) looking towards the bell tower of the Nativity Cathedral. The cathedral itself is a separate building, partly visible behind. The original bell tower was built in 1830 but was demolished in 1962. This exact replica was constructed in 1997.Cathedral Park (Central Park) looking towards the bell tower of the Nativity Cathedral. The cathedral itself is a separate building, partly visible behind. The original bell tower was built in 1830 but was demolished in 1962. This exact replica was constructed in 1997.

Tony in front of the Arch of Triumph on the south-west side of Cathedral Park. The arch was constructed in 1841 as the centre piece of Great National Assembly Square. Immediately behind is Ștefan cel Mare Boulevard and the very large building beyond is Government House.Tony in front of the Arch of Triumph on the south-west side of Cathedral Park. The arch was constructed in 1841 as the centre piece of Great National Assembly Square. Immediately behind is Ștefan cel Mare Boulevard and the very large building beyond is Government House.

Tony touching a life-sized bright yellow plastic cow in Cathedral Park.Tony touching a life-sized bright yellow plastic cow in Cathedral Park.

Tony in front of the Stephen the Great Monument at the entrance the Stephen the Great Park. This monument was completed in 1927 and is made up of a bronze statue standing on a large stone base.Tony in front of the Stephen the Great Monument at the entrance the Stephen the Great Park. This monument was completed in 1927 and is made up of a bronze statue standing on a large stone base.

Stephen the Great (Ştefan cel Mare in Romanian) lived between 1433 and 1504. He reigned as prince of the Principality of Moldavia between 1457 and 1504. During his reign he strengthened Moldavia and maintained its independence against the ambitions of Hungary, Poland and the Ottoman Empire. He is regarded as a national hero in Moldova and Romania. He has been canonized a saint by the Romanian Orthodox Church.

A large pond with a fountain in the middle in Stephen the Great Park. The fountain is circular with many jets of water spraying up into the air.A large pond with a fountain in the middle in Stephen the Great Park. The fountain is circular with many jets of water spraying up into the air.

Friday, 6th June 2014

Women selling vegetables at the side of a street.Women selling vegetables at the side of a street.

Tony at the top of steps outside the main entrance to the Ministry of Internal Affairs on Ștefan cel Mare Boulevard.Tony at the top of steps outside the main entrance to the Ministry of Internal Affairs on Ștefan cel Mare Boulevard.

A bride and groom being photographed under a tree in Cathedral Park.A bride and groom being photographed under a tree in Cathedral Park.

The central dome of the Nativity Cathedral. This is the main cathedral of the Moldovan Orthodox Church. It was built in the 1830s in Neoclassical style.The central dome of the Nativity Cathedral. This is the main cathedral of the Moldovan Orthodox Church. It was built in the 1830s in Neoclassical style.

Tony sitting on the grass close to the Nativity Cathedral.Tony sitting on the grass close to the Nativity Cathedral.

Another view of the Nativity Cathedral's bell tower. It has four storeys with a small chapel on the ground floor.Another view of the Nativity Cathedral’s bell tower. It has four storeys with a small chapel on the ground floor.

A structure standing between the bell tower and the cathedral itself. Its roof is in the form of an orb - a sphere with a cross on top. Possibly used as an outdoor pulpit?A structure standing between the bell tower and the cathedral itself. Its roof is in the form of an orb – a sphere with a cross on top. Possibly used as an outdoor pulpit?

Tony in front of an entrance into the bell tower.Tony in front of an entrance into the bell tower.

A fountain close to the bell tower. A round pool with small jets of water. Tony in front.A fountain close to the bell tower. A round pool with small jets of water. Tony in front.

Old Orhei

Saturday, 7th June 2014

Old Orhei (Orheiul Vechi) is an open-air museum located at Trebujeni, 37 miles (60 kilometres) north-east of Chişinău. The site combines the natural landscape with historical and archaeological remains.

A track passing along a ridge across the grassy landscape. A bell tower standing at the far end.A track passing along a ridge across the grassy landscape. A bell tower standing at the far end.

A slightly blurred photo inside the Cave Monastery. This monastery was built into a limestone cliff by Orthodox monks in the 13th century. It was abandoned in the 18th century but a few monks returned in 1996 and are slowly restoring it.A slightly blurred photo inside the Cave Monastery. This monastery was built into a limestone cliff by Orthodox monks in the 13th century. It was abandoned in the 18th century but a few monks returned in 1996 and are slowly restoring it.

A doorway into the Cave Monastery.A doorway into the Cave Monastery.

View along the meandering Răut River from the Cave Monastery. A steep grassy slope down to the river immediately in front.View along the meandering Răut River from the Cave Monastery. A steep grassy slope down to the river immediately in front.

Looking through a doorway into a room, part of the Cave Monastery. Rock cut steps visible at the far end.Looking through a doorway into a room, part of the Cave Monastery. Rock cut steps visible at the far end.

A chapel inside the Cave Monastery. Colourful religious icons hanging on the walls.A chapel inside the Cave Monastery. Colourful religious icons hanging on the walls.

Tony up on the cliff outside the Cave Monastery. A good view along the Răut River behind.Tony up on the cliff outside the Cave Monastery. A good view along the Răut River behind.

A monk inside the monastery. Religious souvenirs for sale.A monk inside the monastery. Religious souvenirs for sale.

A narrow rock cut passageway inside the monastery.A narrow rock cut passageway inside the monastery.

An entrance doorway that leads down into the monastery.An entrance doorway that leads down into the monastery.

Paths leading through grass and flowers at Old Orhei. Cliffs visible at the far side of the Răut River.Paths leading through grass and flowers at Old Orhei. Cliffs visible at the far side of the Răut River.

Another path with the towers of St Maria Church visible in the distance.Another path with the towers of St Maria Church visible in the distance.

At the entrance gate into St Maria Church. This church was built in 1905.At the entrance gate into St Maria Church. This church was built in 1905.

The garden of St Maria Church planted with flowers. Surrounded by an exterior stone wall. An old bell displayed on a rock.The garden of St Maria Church planted with flowers. Surrounded by an exterior stone wall. An old bell displayed on a rock.

A marble cross with an image of Christ's crucifixion on front in the garden of St Maria Church.A marble cross with an image of Christ’s crucifixion on front in the garden of St Maria Church.

Inside St Maria Church. Decorated with religious icons and wall paintings.Inside St Maria Church. Decorated with religious icons and wall paintings.

A metal door into the church. A cross on the front.A metal door into the church. A cross on the front.

A view through the door into the church. Walls adorned with paintings.A view through the door into the church. Walls adorned with paintings.

A building in the same walled compound as St Maria Church. An icon depicting the Virgin and Child above the door.A building in the same walled compound as St Maria Church. An icon depicting the Virgin and Child above the door.

A monk emerging from the church.A monk emerging from the church.

A view of Butuceni village from near St Maria Church.A view of Butuceni village from near St Maria Church.