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Sergey Baranchan  Along vallies of RiverRăut

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.

He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder

and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

A. Einstein

Please be invited to touch upon mysterious beauty of RiverRăutvallies. I won’t be mistaken if I own up that only a few years ago I had no clue of the beauty hidden in the vallies of RiverRăut. For the first time ever I got to the banks of this marvelous river 8 years ago with my friends during a short bicycle trip to Trebujeni village. What was my surprise when I saw Old Orhe for the first time from bird's eye panorama.My excitement had no limits as my consciousness couldn’t manage the difference between the views of this area depicted on the map and what I saw in reality.

With caution of what I’ve seen I tried to find available data about the river, the current, its history on the internet but alas, to my regret I found too little of worthy information (perhaps I searched wrong sources):

«RiverRăut – thelargestriverinMoldovawithstreamlengthof 286 km. The spring starts on the raised part of North Moldova plateau near Rediul-Mare village 146m above sea level and runs into the Dniester near Ustia village opposite Dubăsari city. Theriverchangesdirectiontwice (nearBălțiandFloreşti). Between Floreşti andCăzăneştiRiverRăut flows through limestone rocks forming deep and narrow canyons. Starting from its spring and to Bălți the river flows from the North to the South, then it changes direction dramatically to latitudinal and starting from Floreşti it flows mostly to South-East. NearOrheitheRăutvalleysawsthroughTowtryridge. Nearby Orheiand Trebujeni the river is extremely beautiful: its narrow canyon-like valley literally meanders through limestones.»

The information is scanty, or even none, I would say. So, after ‘googling’ the map of Moldova I decided to discover this area by myself. But my dream to visit the most interesting places of the river was bound to happen only after several years when I got professional photo-gear in my toolkit, friends and colleagues who agreed to keep me company who are also hopelessly fond of landscape photography like me, and I want to give them special thanks for that.

Looking at these steep banks, rocks and boulders so fancifully scattered around, one think of legends about giants and Moldavian fairy tales, that I was told when a child.


«And Fat-Frumos set his feet on the path, he went and went, after a while…he crossed the rim and looked around with astonishment as if he found himself on a different land. The grass was lush, the trees stood big and spreading. Seeing such beauty, he set his lips to a fluier and doina went flowing giving praise to this delight. And instantly from the forest three wolves, three bears emerged from their lairs who guarded the borders of the realm. They came to eat Fat-Frumos, that was the order of their master. But when they heard his play they forgot everything. They couldn’e stpo listening to his magic fluier.»


The most interesting places along RiverRăut course start somewhere inFloreşti where the river passes round reef formations of Sarmaty Sea and places where the river drops off more solid limestone and stone rapids of the river forming seething waterfalls with bedrock coasts.


«Steep slopes are full of cornel groves and hazel coppices. Closer to the Old Orhei the forest consists mostly of durmast oak, mahaleb cherry, linden, horn-beech, maple tree, wild cherry, Tatarian maple andsmooth-leaved elm. On shady and more humid fields one can see bladdernut and on the ledges of Towtry limestone the reef seems like gigantic barrowbinded by stone edging on the top.»

It is hard to describe the beauty of steep slopes of the Răut especially in the beginning of summer. During this period moisture in the ground is not dried yetby winds and scalding sun, that heats stones. The valley splashes with variety of colors, and during dawn and sunset represents a true heaven for a photographer.

«Here you can see fever weed and bear’s ear standing out by its yellow stains. Right there tree moss is growing – one of the representatives of African flora, but less big. In the past Africans used its juice to saturate arrow heads. Petals of vivid yellow and shining bloodroot flower trailing between plants and look like five fingers splayed across. Padsof moss are visible in cavities of picturesque cavities, here and there silver succulent stonecrop with yellow flowers, rearly – schivereckia, auriniasaxatilis, alyssum, rockfoil – everywhere everything strains towards the sun, towards life. And spicy fragrance of thyme dominates over all these wild grasses.” This is how V. Verina describes the banks of the river in her book “Monuments of Moldavia nature»

Starting from Ghindeşti, one can get acquainted with geological lamination of Sarmaty Sea, abandoned tunnels for quarrying and forsaken houses, communities of monks and cultic temples by looking at hillsides of the Răut. Here and there stone ledges overhang forming huge canopies, threatening to break off and collapse. To get inside is not always easy and, by no means, an insecure task. I once had a chance to witness a scene, near Trebujeni, when children threw stones from almost vertical cliff, and then climbed down themselves. When I asked why they risked so much they answered with smiles that they broke appropriate stones to build houses. They didn’t use bricks. By the way, all fencing along the river is made from stones which gives special tincture to villages.

Downstream, near Roşietici village, the Răutmeanders in fanciful zig-zags forming specific islands which look so mystically and so beautifully in morning fog.


Further down the stream, banks of the river become smoother, and starting from Căzăneşti scarp slopes give way to plain landscape but closer to Orhei again start to riddle with stones, boulders and banks of the river become cliffed and tricky.


Recently I came across a legend of River Răut origin. I will try to retell it in short.

«Long time ago when pathless forests and vast heaths covered the land people of this land gathered and decided to give blackland to farmers who would cultivate it, vast meadows and pastures to sheepherdsmen, rocks and mountains to stone cutters and builders. Therefore, a large community of great builders who created wonderful houses and stone wear was formed. Their splendid goods became famous all over the world. And one day they were attacked by enemies from Rău tribe in order to enslave them and take their lands. After long battles invaders managed to conquer the land of hardworking builders. At festive table in honor of the victory they ordered to bring them a glass of wine. When the leader of Rău tribedrank his first glass he broke it against the head of a child of enslaved people and asked to bring another one. He again broke the second glass against child’s head and asked to bring another one. When he was going to crash the third glass ,the stone table that the army was seating at cracked and Codri cried with endless flows of black water which swallowed the whole hostile army. And when waters blew over a river left flowing in this place which was called Răut. They say, one can still find ancient vases, stone flowers and other stone goods on the banks of the river.»

Indeed, the Răut, in my opinion, has some mystical attraction. Having found yourself on the bank of the river in the mist it is very easy to lose way and direction.


I would like to finish my short narrative by Leonardo da Vinci quote:

«Knowledge about theworldisfoodand decorationfor human minds.”Here the only thing I would like to add is that the knowledge of the land that we were destined to be born isfoodand decorationfor human soul.