I was born in Moldova, the country, but there’s another piece of land that has the same name and that at times creates confusion. This region called Moldova, currently belongs to Romania and was a part of Moldova – the country.
I’m not going to unfold all the history of this region simply because there are too many things to tell, but one I want to mention though, Moldova was much bigger than it is today. This page on Wikipedia is a great source of information, for those who want to know more about the history of this part of Europe.
Now, capital of this region Moldova (from now on I will mention it as Moldova) is Iasi (pronounced as Yashi). Iasi is also known as the “city of great love stories”, “city of new beginnings”, “cultural center of Moldavia”, “an open air museum”.
Iasi was the capital of the Principality of Moldavia from 1564 until 1859, when Moldavia united with Walachia to form the basis of the future modern Romanian state and got to be again a capital between 1916-1918, when Bucharest was occupied by the German army. Its palaces and noblemen residences got to house in crisis conditions the state institutions necessary to command the country in times of war.
The 1977 year was devastating, from historical and cultural point of view. This year is known and remembered as one with the great loss because of the earthquake that destroyed parts of the historical centre of Iasi and because of the authorities at that time who took advantage of the occasion to raze some of its former town housing much of it made by the former multi-ethnic bourgeoisie – Jews, Germans, Greeks, Italians, Armenians, Russians, French, and other nationalities.
Today Iasi, besides being an important cultural and historical city is also the second higher education center in the country.
One of my favorite places in Iasi is the monastery of Trei Ierarhi, in English it will be Three Hierarchs The. One of the stories of this beautiful monastery and absolutely stunning church says that the main church, which is carved in stone from the foundation to the roof and the motives are all different, was gold plated. When Moldova was occupied by the Ottoman Empire they wanted that gold, so that they built around the church a pyre and melted all the gold.
This monastery is very famous in Romania and Moldova and people are coming from all over the countries to pray here.
On 14th of October and a week prior to this date, tens of thousands of pilgrims are coming to this monastery to pray at the relics of Saint Parascheva. The relics were brought from Constantinople and put in a niche that had been created especially for this purpose; this niche is decorated with marble, precious stones and mosaics that illustrate the Saint’s life. For more information about this monastery and church, see here.
Another place that I loved to visit is the Palace of Culture. Currently this museum is closed for visitors due to the restoration works, but to see it at least from the outside is worth the trouble to go there.
One curiosity about this palace is that it has 365 rooms, one room for each day of the year.
Casa Dosoftei or the Dosoftei House is another point of interest. This house is a building from the second half of the 17th century, in which in 1679 the metropolitan bishop Dosoftei settled the second typography in Moldavia. Behind this house you’ll see one of the oldest churches in the city – Saint Nicholas Church.
If you ask people in Moldova or Romania or any other person that speaks Romanian and has a bit of knowledge about our culture and literature, then the names Ion Creanga and Mihai Eminescu will sound more than familiar to them.
In Iasi you’ll find a very cute, small house where Ion Creanga lived between 1872 and 1889. And there’s another one in Humulesti, Neamt county. The house in Humulesti is the house where Ion Creanga was born and sent his childhood.
Some other places of interest are: Botanical Garden, Metropolitan Cathedral, the Catholic Church of Saint Mary and Cetatuia Monastery.
Cetatuia Monastery, Iasi, Romania
If you want to walk off the beaten path, then some of these suggestions may rise your interest:
- Rich Gypsy Houses – they are not on maps. If you want to see some of these house, you should walk the street going from the main train station towards the smaller train station (Nicolina). Gypsy houses are covered in sparkly, glittery materials. Their walls might be completely covered in metal, and have metal decorations. If you see a shiny metal house, it’s a gypsy house. For those who’re brave Ciurea is a village where rich gypsies live 😉
- Releu – an ancient sea bed– The Releu is a popular picnic spot, and offers a gorgeous view of the city. Here you’ll see a striking contrast of the village life and French Riviera. Therefore, if you go there, you’ll see cows and chicken and some nice properties bought by rich Europeans and converted into villas. You can reach this destination by taxi or by maxi-taxi.
- Check the Jewish cemetery. You’ll find this cemetery in the Păcurari neighborhood. This cemetery represents a trace of the once thriving Jewish community of Iasi.
- Up the Bucium hill there is a lookout point with a really good view towards the city.
- For some fresh fruits and veggies check thetraditional open markets such as “Piaţa Nicolina”, “Piaţa Alexandru”and “Piaţa Păcurari”. They are open daily.
- Go shopping in the second-hand shops around the city – You’ll find really good bargains for some hippy clothes, antiquities, sport equipment. A lot of young locals prefer them to shopping malls, because you may find really quality stuff at affordable prices.
More information about Iasi/ Iassi you will find on the following links:
I’m sure that on those links you’ll find information regarding accommodation, transportation and much more about places to visit.
Don’t let the summer and the high season be a drawback. Travel smart and to destinations that aren’t very popular 😉
Travel safe and wise!