The cultural capital of the Moldova region is Iași, a city brimming with stunning architecture, intriguing history and marvellous scenery. It is a city where spirituality and poetry meet, and it is known for being a centre for pilgrimages. Let yourself be inspired and surprised by this city. This guide will help you discover the best ways to enjoy it.
The Palace of Culture in Iași is an architectural jewel with a wondrous blend of Neo-Gothic, Romantic and Neo-Baroque architecture. One of the most iconic buildings in Romania, the Palace of Culture features 298 rooms housing historical artifacts, art, ethnography, science and technical exhibitions. A visit to this great place will also reveal collections of magnificent hardware made famous by French design companies like Krieger, Mercier and Bagvès. You’ll also find beautiful furnishings made in the workshops of Albert Goumain in Paris and the Mappel company in England.
The History Museum of Moldova displays works of art and beautiful ceramics from one of the world’s oldest cultures, the Cucuteni. The museum also holds large collections of Roman, Dacian and Sarmatian treasures that will surely catch the eye of history buffs, not to mention the 70,000-year-old mammoth skull that the museum is proud to present.
The Elisabeta Esplanade is a pedestrian area, where locals like to take walks. It is a path full of history and beauty and is highly recommended. Erected at the beginning of the twentieth century, the monumental esplanade offers picturesque views of the city. Enjoy them while strolling on the promenade.
A place of poetry and romance, Copou Park is the place where poet Mihai Eminescu found his inspiration for his poems. Seated under an old linden tree, Eminescu spent his days crafting verses that would someday be considered masterpieces of Romanian literature. ‘Eminescu’s linden tree’ still stands tall, even though it is over 700 years old. It is an iconic spot in Iași. When visiting, take a book of the poet’s works and read them in the same spot where they were written, under the linden tree.
The oldest Botanical Garden in Romania is in Iași and was opened in the nineteenth century by naturalist Anastasie Fătu. Sprinkled with beautiful lakes, several greenhouses filled with local and international plants, and small forests of hornbeam, beech, oak, poplar and maple trees, the Botanical Garden is the ideal place to spend a hot summer day. But what is truly enchanting is the rose garden, displaying more than 600 varieties. With a unique array of colours and lovely odours, this is magical place to spend an afternoon.
Named the ‘City of 100 Churches’, Iași is brimming with Orthodox churches and monasteries that represent Romania’s religious pilgrimage centres. Among the most impressive is the Church of the Three Hierarchs, featuring more than 30 unique decorative artworks mixing Georgian, Armenian and Turkish motifs.
The Moldovian Metropolitan Cathedral is not any less impressive with its superb paintings made by one of Romania’s most popular painters, Gheorghe Tattarescu. The Cathedral is also a pilgrimage site, bringing in hundreds of believers for the Saint Parascheva’s celebration in October.
One of the most beautiful theatres in Romania is Iași’s Vasile Alecsandri National Theatre, which has a stunningly beautiful Baroque and Rococo interior design. Guests marvel at the ceiling adorned with nymphs and cupids, painted by the Viennese artist Alexander Goltz. In the main auditorium, a wonderful chandelier, decorated with Venetian crystal lamps, completes the elegant ambiance. Among the performances, guests can enjoy plays like Goldberg Show by George Tabori, The Cage by Georges Feydeay or Bald Soprano by Eugène Ionesco.
The Gheorghe Asachi Library of Iași, designed by Swiss architect Louis Blanc and painted by Romanian painter Sabin Bălașa, is among the most beautiful libraries in the world, and is a wondrous place to get lost. As part of Romania’s first university, the library is open to visitors from Monday to Friday. More than one million volumes await to be discovered in its enchanting fairy-tale rooms.
Visiting Iași in October? Then you surely shouldn’t miss the folk festival ‘Trandafir de la Moldova’. An event with a long tradition, this folk festival showcases local culture through talented Romanian dancers and musicians. For three days, between the fifth and seventh of October, Iași becomes an open-air stage showcasing Romanian dances and songs. Enjoy the festival while making friends with locals and learning how to dance to traditional songs.
Close to Iași, the Vânători-Neamț Natural Park is home to a large population of European bison, Europe’s heaviest wild animal. Spread over 11,500 hectares (28,417 acres), the reservation is a shelter for the monumental animal that is on the vulnerable species list. Guests are welcome to visit the park and admire the animals.