Iasi, Cultural and Intellectual Center

Iasi, Cultural and Intellectual Center

The city of Iasi is the largest urban settlement in Moldova, an important cultural and economic center in the North-Eastern part of Romania. This city has been a capital three times so far: the first time, of Moldova, between 1564 and 1859, then of the United Principalities, between 1859 and 1862, and then of Romania, between 1916 and 1918.

Category: Tag:


The city of Iasi is the largest urban settlement in Moldova, an important cultural and economic center in the North-Eastern part of Romania. This city has been a capital three times so far: the first time, of Moldova, between 1564 and 1859, then of the United Principalities, between 1859 and 1862, and then of Romania, between 1916 and 1918.


The city of Iasi is located in the Moldavian Plains, a few kilometers away from the border with the Republic of Moldova. Researchers have agreed that the origin of the name can be found in the Alanic tribe of the Iasi, a nomadic people of Indo-European origin. Nevertheless, the first mention of this city belongs to Alexander the Good, in 1408.

The last population census indicated that there are approximately 400 thousand people living in Iasi, but very many students – approximately 60,000 – come here every year to enroll in one of the universities of the city. For that reason, the city of Iasi can be characterized as a place full of youth, where parties, festivities and exhibits are frequent.

It is known that Iasi is the city of the 7 cliffs, name given by its location on 7 different cliffs, as follows: Bucium, Copou, Galata, Cetatuia, Repedea, Sorogari and Breazu. Of these, 4 presently make up one of the most popular neighborhoods of this city, while the others are designated as suburbs, alongside others such as Valea Lupului, Tomesti, Dancu or Ciurea. The tendency is for these suburbs to eventually become neighborhoods as well, the city of Iasi being in continuous expansion, due to the rising number of inhabitants each year, as most of the students who come here decide to remain after they graduate.

Iasi has played an important part in the 1989 Revolution, as this is where most of the movements initiated, although they were snuffed out by the Security as soon as they occurred. Nevertheless, this city remains in the annals of history as the one that gave the signal to trigger this important event. This city is also named the city of “grand ideas”, because this is where the idea of the First Unification, of the first Literature and Natural History museums and of the first University in the country originated. Over time, important Romanian writers and poets lived here, such as Creanga, Eminescu, Sadoveanu, Toparceanu or Otilia Cazimir.


Most of the historical buildings in Iasi are concentrated in the Old Town, an area which spans between the Elena, Stephen the Great, Independentei and Grigore Ghica streets, but some of them are also located in the old neighborhoods of the city, such as Copou or Pacurari.

The Culture Palace is the main symbol of Iasi. It was built over the former Royal Courtyard, in 1906, presently hosting the exhibits of the “Moldova” National Museum Complex. In front of it is the Dosoftei House – dating back to 1677, which was the first printing press in Moldova, and also the popular Stephen the Great boulevard, where you can see the City Hall building, the Trei Ierarhi Church, the National Theatre and other tourist attractions. Behind the palace is a residential neighborhood called Palas, which is presently the heart of student activities. Address: Stephen the Great and Holy Square no 1.

Alexandru Ioan Cuza University hosts 15 faculties, and is located on Copou, and the building which houses it is a historical monument dating back to 1896. The Mihai Eminescu library, belonging to the university, is also an interesting place for tourists. Additionally, the city of Iasi proudly owns an international airport, so it is relatively easy to fly to this city from faraway places (all you have to do is reserve a ticket some time in advance, to find an affordable flight).

The Botanical Garden is higher up, near the Emil Alexandrescu Stadium; this was the first exhibit of its kind in the country, built in 1856 by Anastasie Fatu. Visiting hours are daily between 9 AM and 6 PM; remember that the greenhouses are closed on Wednesdays. Address: 7-9 Dumbrava Rosie Street.

Being an important cultural city, Iasi hosts some of the most beautiful theatre performances, opera performances and more, in historical buildings such as the National Theatre, the Romanian National Opera, the Tatarasi Athenaeum or the Ludic Theatre.

The Vasile Alecsandri National Theatre is represented by a neoclassical building; this is also the headquarters of the national opera company. The theatre building was built in 1890 by the Austrian team of Fellner and Helmer. The opulence of the building can be observed both on the outside and the inside. Address: 5 Vasile Alecsandri Street,

The Iasi Philharmonic is an institution with a permanent artistic activity; the inaugural concert of the Philharmonic was on October 9th 1942 conducted by George Enescu. Address: 29 Cuza Voda Street.

The Ludic Theatre was established in 1978 by professor Aurel Luca; the ludic theatre consists of a representative troupe of students from the Iasi University Center, who over time have won more than 200 trophies and awards in national and international festivals. Address: 30 Vasile Conta Street.

Those who appreciate the religious lifestyle and architecture have a series of such tourist attractions to choose from, both in Iasi and in the surrounding areas. Among these are the following monasteries: Hadambu, Dobrovat, Hlincea, Piatra Sfanta or Vladiceni. Countless churches lay on the streets of Iasi, the most beautiful of these, both architecturally and historically are the Trei Ierarhi Church and the Golia Monastery.

The walls of the Trei Ierarhi Church date back to 1637 when they were built for the ruler Vasile Lupu; they are entirely covered with stone decorations. Today, the church houses the relics of Saint Parascheva of Greece, preserved in a silver reliquary. This is also where Dimitrie Cantemir, the author of “The Description of Moldavia” is buried. Address: 28 Stephen the Great and Holy Street.

The brick church located next to the Culture Palace is Saint Nicholas Church; it was built for Stephen the Great and Holy, but unfortunately it burned down at the beginning of the 19th century. The church was rebuilt by the French architect Andre Lecomte du Bouy between 1884 and 1904.

The Golia Monastery was built in 1546; the ruler Vasile Lupu paid a group of Italian builders to beautify and expand the religious establishment. The building is characterized by the baroque and byzantine style. Inside the church, there are discrete inscriptions with the Cyrillic initials BB (which stand for Voivode Vasile) and a bull’s head. Address: 51 Cuza Voda Street.

The city of Iasi has an important place on the Romanian map and offers many tourist attractions that should not be missed. Similarly, the surrounding areas also offer a few such locations: the Cetatuia Monastery, the Barnova Commune and the Barnova Monastery, the Cucuteni Archaeological site and the Cotnari vineyards.

Additional information