Experience culture and fun in Romania’s second city Iasi
The city of Iasi (pronounced yash) is one of the oldest cities in Romania, and has been a cultural and political hub since the 15th century. Located in the province of Moldavia in northeastern Romania, Iasi was for many centuries the crossing point of the most important commercial routes linking Poland, Hungary, Russia and Constantinople.
Deeply rooted in history, Iasi has been the main centre of Moldavian culture since 1408.
Everything is centred around the Golden Plateau, and dominated by the Palace of Culture and Union Square.
Iasi has significant Jewish history. The first Yiddish-language newspaper was published here, and the 17th-century Great Synagogue is the oldest surviving synagogue in Romania.
Today, Iasi is home to five universities and is the second largest university centre in Romania. The thriving student community gives the city a young and trendy atmosphere.
Over the past 500 years, history, culture and religious life have moulded the city’s unique character. Iasi boasts an impressive number of Orthodox churches, almost 100, most of them located in the so-called Golden Plateau (Platoul de Aur). The oldest, the Princely Saint Nicholas Church, dates from the reign of Stephen the Great (Stefan cel Mare, 1457-1504). The finest, however, are the 17th century St. Paraschiva Metropolitan Cathedral and Trei Ierarhi (Three Hierarchs) Church, the last a curious example of Byzantine art, erected in 1635-1639 by Vasile Lupu. Its outer walls and twin towers are intricately carved in what many think of as stone lace.
The Golden Plateau represents the nucleus of the city, around which the entire settlement developed over the centuries. With the Palace of Culture at one end and the Union Square (Piata Unirii) at the other, the Golden Plateau features churches and princely palaces on both sides of Stefan cel Mare si Sfant Boulevard, which runs right through its centre.
Many other important sites can be found on nearby streets.
Iasi’s Botanical Garden
Dating from 1856 and covering some 250 acres, it is the oldest and largest in Romania. An educational and scientific laboratory, the garden houses a precious and rich collection of trees and plants. It also offers numerous shady lanes to explore, rose and orchid gardens, a collection of tropical plants, cacti, carnivorous plants, natural springs and a lake. Open: Daily 10am – 9pm
Palace of Culture
This remarkable construction (1906-1925), built in flamboyant neogothic style, stands partly on the ruins of a medieval royal court mentioned in documents dating from 1434.
Today, the 365-room palace houses the Gheorghe Asachi Library and four of the city’s museums: History, Culture, Art and Science and Technology. The interior décor, with the lavish furnishings and magnificent staircase of the entrance lobby, can be admired free of charge, but tickets are required for entry to the museums.
Romania with Blue Air