Travelers in Moldova. A few hours in Iași

During our one week stay in the countryside, one morning we took off over the hills of northern Moldova’s plateau until we reached the Prut. We continued down along the river,  gazing in the distance to our neighbors from the Republic of Moldova, until we arrived to Iași. From where we were standing, it seemed that the city was entirely hidden behind a forest. Most streets were in renovation, but we managed to find the historic center and spent most of our day looking for old buildings and learning a bit more of our country’s history. We soon realized that one day is hardly enough for getting to know this surprisingly beautiful city.


 The House of the Metropolitan Bishop Dosoftei was built between 1673 and 1679 as part of the Royal Court in Iași and was the headquarters of Dosoftei’s printing press until 1686. Nowadays, the Turkish style building houses the Museum of Old Romanian Literature, keeping valuable manuscripts and publications.

The Roznovanu Palace was built in the 18th century and was restored between 1830 and 1832 by Gustav Freywald, the architect who also designed the Metropolitan Cathedral in Iași. In 1788 the Russian general Romanov settles in the palace, followed by the entire Russian diplomacy. Until 1891 it was home to the Rosetti-Roznovanu family, one that had a great influence in Moldova’s political scene. Later, the palace was also used by the royal family. Nowadays, the Roznovanu Palace houses the Iași City Hall.

The “Vasile Alecsandri” National Theater was built between 1894-1896 and is considered the oldest and most remarkable building of its kind in the country.  The Romanian National Theater was first established in 1840 by three of our most valuable writers, Vasile Alecsandri, Costache Negruzzi and Mihail Kogălniceanu here, in Iași.

Just opposite from the National Theater, in the park, we find an obelisk placed in the memory of the old summer garden “Pomul Verde” (the Green Tree). Here, in 1876, Avram Goldfaden founded the first Hebrew Theatre in the world.

The Metropolitan Cathedral in Iași was built in the 19th century and was, until recently, the largest Orthodox church in Romania.

While walking around the historic center of Iași, we came across the remains of some old catacombs. Down the stairs we found restaurants, pubs and shops, all built in the chambers of these ruins. Apparently, in the 18th century, a large mansion was built here. Later, together with the development of the city, the house was demolished to make way for blocks of flats. What we see today are only the semi-basement and the cellars.

The cornerstone of the Armenian Church in Iași records the year 1395. This makes it the oldest written document in the municipality of Iași.

In the 17th century, the governor of Iași, Ursu Bărboi, built a church in the center of the city. It was later turned into a monastery. Moldova’s ruler I. S. Sturdza, other members of the Sturdza family, as well as the poet Alecu Russo,  have all been buried here. Between 1841-1844 the Bărboi Church was built in its place. Ion Creanga, the famous Romanian writer and storyteller, was deacon at this church.

The rectory of the Bărboi Church was built in the 19th century. Inside, Mihail Sturdza established the first “Institute for teaching girls” in Moldova. The deacon, Ion Creangă, lived between these walls while he worked for the Bărboi Church.

Between 1906 and 1925, on the foundations of the formal Royal Court, the most impressive monument in Iași took shape, the Palace of Culture. In 1926 King Ferdinand inaugurated the building. It was initially used as Palace of Justice but in 1955 it was turned into a museum.

Numerous elements of the Iași Court, attested since 1434 and once home to Moldova’s rulers, are exposed in the public garden surrounding the palace, covering an area of 12 hectares. The Court used to be protected by a pond with wooden piles and gullies, stone fortifications and towers, some of which can be seen to this day. The hydraulic systems were unique in the country. Beginning with the 17th century, wooden and ceramic water ducts were used for bringing running water to the hydraulic wheel and gazebo with flowing fountain.

How we wished we could have stayed in Iași for the night and spent the evening on the terraced gardens under the Palace until moon rise, not worry about going home, having another whole day on our hands to visit all the other buildings and attractions. We promised ourselves we would return sometime soon…

Poți citi varianta în română aici.


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