Iasi is the most important political, economic and cultural centre of the province of Moldavia as well as one of the oldest cities in Romania. Located in the northeastern part of the country, on seven hills, 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. The city prides itself with publishing the first Romanian newspaper and establishing the first Romanian university. Today, Iasi is home to five universities. Iasi is also among the very few cities in the Orthodox world with more than 100 churches.
Sports & natureIn 2012, Iasi was selected as one of the European Cities of Sport. Its current top teams play basketball, football, handball, rugby and volleyball.
The city lies on the Bahlui River and the surrounding country is one of uplands and woods, featuring monasteries and parks. The most famous parks of Iasi are Copou Park (since 1834, famous for the Romanian National Poet Mihai Eminescu's linden tree), the Botanical Garden (dating from 1856, covering 250 acres, it is the oldest and the largest in Romania) and Ciric Park.
Nightlife infoIasi offers a wide variety of restaurants, pubs and clubs. Even though it is a cultural city, it provides fun for the students and foreigners. Prices tend to be cheap in general.
Culture and history infoOne of the most important cultural center, Iaşi has many theaters, museums and monuments. The “Vasile Alecsandri” National Theater, opened in 1837 is the oldest National Theatre in Romania. The building, designed according to the plans of the Viennese architects Hermann Helmer and Ferdinand Fellner was built between 1894–1896, and also hosts starting 1956 the National Romanian Opera Iaşi.
Iasi is home to: Iaşi State Philarmonic; “Luceafărul” Theater for children and youth; Tătăraşi Atheneum; The Art Museum has the largest art collection in Romania, with more than 8,000 paintings, out of which 1,000 belong to the national and universal patrimony ; The Moldavian History Museum offers more than 35,000 objects from various fields: archaeology, numismatics, decorative art, ancient books, documents; The Ethnographic Museum of Moldavia owns more than 11,000 objects depicting the Romanian advance through the ages; The Museum of Science and Technology offers many musical devices.
Four museums are located in the Palace of Culture, one of the largest buildings of Romania. Construction was carried out between the years 1906–1925 on the old ruins of the Royal Court of Moldavia and it is designed in flamboyant neo-Gothic style. The palace counts 298 rooms and has a total room surface of about 36 000 m².
Archaeological investigations attest to the presence of human communities since the prehistoric age. The name of the city is first found in a document from 1408. However, as buildings older than 1408 still exist, e.g. the Armenian Church believed to be originally built in 1395, it is certain that the city existed before its first mentioning.
In 1640, Vasile Lupu established the first school in which the mother-language replaced Greek. In 1643, the first volume ever printed in Moldavia was issued in Iași.
The city was burned down by the Tatars in 1513, by the Ottomans in 1538, and by Imperial Russian troops in 1686. In 1734, it was hit by the plague.
Between 1564 and 1859, the city was the capital of Moldavia. During World War I, Iași was the capital of a severely reduced Romania for two years, following the Central Powers' occupation of Bucharest on 6 December 1916. The capital was returned to Bucharest after the defeat of Imperial Germany and its allies in November 1918.
In May 1944, the Iași area became the scene of ferocious fighting between Romanian-German forces and the advancing Soviet Red Army and the city was partially destroyed. By 20 August, Iași had been taken by Soviet forces.
Iași experienced a major wave of industrialization, in 1955-1975. During this period of time, it received numerous migrants from rural regions, and the urban area expanded. The socialist period saw a growth of 235% in population and 69% in area in Iași. By 1989, Iași had become highly industrialized.