Iași is the second largest city in Romania, and Moldavia’s cultural, religious, social and historical centre. The city’s past as capital of Moldavia and even Romania has resulted in an impressive number of monasteries, churches, museums, memorial houses, palaces, historic buildings and parks. Visiting Iași, the country’s biggest university centre, you will feel the students’ energy and the nightlife’s vividness.
Top 5 Attractions
- The Palace of Culture (Palatul Culturii) is a symbol of Iași. Built on the ruins of the old princely court, it served as an administrative centre of the city. Nowadays, it houses four of the city’s museums: the Art Museum, the Science and Technology Museum, the Moldavian History Museum and the Ethnographic Museum.
- Church of the Three Hierarchs (Biserica Sfinţii Trei Ierarhi) is a marvellous combination of Moldavian and Wallachian architecture. When it was completed in 1639, the church was covered in gold, silver and lapis lazuli. Nowadays you can still admire its unique exterior stone carvings, richly decorated.
- Vasile Alecsandri National Theatre (Teatru Naţional Vasile Alecsandri), built in the 1890s, is the first national theatre in Romania. The Rococo and Baroque interior is remarkable through the painted ceiling and curtain and the crystal chandelier. Try a night out at the theatre or opera, as the Iaşi National Romanian Opera is housed in the same building.
- The Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedrala Mitropolitană) is the biggest Orthodox church in Romania. Inside you can find the relics of Saint Paraschiva, the patron saint of Moldavia, which attract thousands of pilgrims, especially on October 14th, the Saint’s day. This religious holiday coincides with Iași Days, so don’t miss the celebration, but beware of the crowd!
- A. I. Cuza University (Universitatea A. I. Cuza), the oldest higher education institution in Romania, houses 26 faculties and 8 research institutes. The main hall was used for parliamentary discourses between 1917 and 1918, when Iaşi was the capital of Romania. After you admire the building’s architecture, stop for a coffee at one of the affordable bars and cafes around the university.
Things to do
Visit Copou, the university district, the centre of the cultural and intellectual life in Iași nowadays, as well as it was in the second half of the 19th century. In that period, Pogor House, which now hosts the Museum of Romanian Literature, housed the meetings of the literary circle Junimea. This society attracted representative writers such as the national poet, Mihai Eminescu. He wrote some of his best poems while lying beneath his favourite linden tree in the Copou Park. Take a romantic walk through the park’s alleys and feel inspired to compose a poem!
Admire the 21km of gardens, greenhouses, natural springs and lakes from the Botanical Garden located nearby. Dating from 1856, it is considered to be the oldest and the largest in the country. Approximately 50 km northwest of Iași is Cotnari, a region famous for its vineyards. You can take one hour tours of the winery, cellars and factory, and enjoy a wine-tasting session. Try a glass of the sweet white wines, Grasă or Tămâioasă de Cotnari.