Emil Racovita Cave

Situated near Criva village in the northern most part of the country is the Emil Racovita Cave, named after the eminent 19th century Romanian biologist, zoologist, and caver Emil Racovita. It was discovered in 1959 during the excavation of a gypsum quarry, but research on the cave did not begin until 1977. It is the third largest gypsum cave in the world.

It has a vast network of underground galleries stretching more than 89,000m (291,991ft) and is split across several levels. Within the cave are large caverns that have been given names such as Cinderella's Hall, Columns Hall, Dacia's Hall, and 100 Meter Hall, which reflect their size and grandeur. An interesting feature of the cave is that each cavern has a delicate lining of colored clay, i.e. green, blue, red, black, and white, etc. There are also several underground lakes including the Blue Lake, Dinosaur Lake, and Nautilus Lake. 

For those interested to visit the cave, there are no trail markers but visitors are able to explore the caves in small groups with an experienced guide. Visitors should bring their own equipment; at minimum appropriate clothing, sturdy boots, and a torch (flashlight) are needed, but a helmet with headlamp is advised. The visit does not require any serious climbing or crawling.


Criva village, Briceni, 270 km distante from Chisinau


No access. The entrance is temporarily blocked



Entry Fee



Rudi Arionesti

The most important reserve in terms of size and the variety of monuments is Rudi-Arionești. It includes three gorges with sharp and woody brinks: Rudi, Arionesti and Tatarauca. The gorge Rudi is particularly important, being 5 km long and 250 m deep. Fissures of odd forms, made by wind, are well defined. On windy days, depending on the direction of the wind, the fissures emit melodic sounds. This effect has earned them the name of "wind harps". Forests dominate the landscape. There reserve has several springs.

In the Rudi section of the reservation there are 100 natural monuments: Wolves' ravine, Winds' ravine, Dragon's rock, Wind harp, the Cave of the deceased, the Green spring, etc. Not far from the Rudi monastery, there are three earth fortresses: the citadel "La șanțuri" ("The ditches")of Thracian origin, identified by some researchers with the ancient town "Maetorium", the Getic citadel "La trei cruci" ("The three crosses")and the medieval settlement "The Turk's plate", dating from the 10th century, as well as many other archeological monuments, a cave, waterfalls, springs, and old growth forests. There are few other places in Moldova where the relief, flora and fauna are so well linked to the history of the population. The old growth forest Rudi is a unique wood treasure, which has never been sprinkled with chemicals.

In 1996, North-West of the Rudi village, on the right bank of a coulee, under the cemetery of the locality, a cave named "The Cave of the Deceased" was discovered. The entrance to it is an angle-shaped crack of 0.7 – 1.0 m wide. These rooms/cracks have an odd architecture: having a crescent shape at the bottom, they widen towards the top, becoming more spacious. There are rooms of different dimensions and forms in the cave, with the length ranging from 3.4 to 6.7 m, the height – 3.4 to 8.1 m and width – 0.7 to 2.5 m.

The 100 knols

On the road of the Prut valley, between the villages Branesti and Cobani, around 200 km from Chisinau, you can see a small but curious natural subunit called "The one Hundred Knols", which is a unique phenomenon in the space between the Prut and Nistru rivers. In reality, there is a much bigger number of knols – over 3500, covering an area of about 1072 ha, 8 km long and 2.3 km wide. Their height varies between 1.5 and 30.5 m (i.e. Gypsy's Knol.)

Some scientists established that «The one Hundred Knols » is the only place in Europe with so many reefs from the Sarmatic Sea (a tertiary water basin which used to cover the present territory of Moldova about 20 million years ago). Other researchers consider that the knols have been formed due to landslide and caving-in, which detached groups of mobile rocks that originally formed the versant of the Prut terrace. The seasonal floods of Prut have periodically molded the knols their current form.

This arrangement of knols has engendered a lot of legends which refer to old civilizations. There are myths, supported by some archeological findings, that these knols are graves of the Geto-Dacians. Local inhabitants believe that the knols were erected long time ago – "during the Turkish invasions, when there was a battle in this area." However, the latest researches have revealed that these are the result of a natural phenomenon, which has not been fully elucidated yet. Ground waters and water from precipitations gather between the knols, forming small lakes in certain places.

The Duruitoarea Gorge

To the east of Duruitoarea village, in Riscani district, the Duruitoarea stream, a tributary of the Ciuhur River, has caved a deep gorge between the rocks. The steep slopes of the gorge are riddled with caves and grottos and embellished by old rock formations. The grotto Duruitoarea Veche is known as an old human settlement dating from the Stone Age.

It is nearly 50 meters long and 5-9 meters wide. It is comprised of three sections. Archeological excavations have identified fossils from the ice age and vestiges of the prehistoric culture that once settled here.

The Saharna Gorge

At the very entrance to Saharna gorge from the Nistru side, an imposing grey rock dominates the surroundings.

The brooks Saharna and Stohnaia cut across the Eastern rise of the hill, forming a vast amphitheater of rocks. They have formed a gorge that reaches 160-175 meters depth in some parts.

If you look at them from the bottom, these brinks give the impression of some mountains with edges lost in the horizon. The bed of the brook running through the Saharna gorge is narrow and scattered with stones.

You can cross the brook without soaking your feet. The deeper you go into the canyon, the louder you can hear the rote of the 22 cascades. The biggest cascade falls from a four meter height.

Another attraction of this area is the rupestral monastery dug in the 14th - 15th century in the rock on the right side of the gorge.