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The capital of Romania’s region of Moldavia, Iași is a charming city full of attractions that speak of its rich culture and glorious past. Traditionally one of the leading centres of Romania’s social, artistic and academic life, the city’s profile is slowly on the rise again. Check out our list of 10 top attractions in Iasi.
Due to its significant elevation, the Elisabeta Esplanade offers great views over the city. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, it facilitated pedestrian transit in the area connecting the Iași Central Station, Copou Hill and the city centre. Interestingly, before the esplanade was built, the area, which was rich in clay, provided local potters in the nearby potters’ neighbourhood with the best material.
Located in the city centre, this 17th century synagogue is the oldest in Romania. At the time it was built, religious buildings that did not pertain to the Christian Orthodox religion were not allowed to be taller than the Metropolitan Cathedral. That is why, it is believed the building was placed deeper underground so as to comply with the rule. Currently, the Great Synagogue is the only one still serving the city’s Jewish population, once very numerous. Service is held several times a week, provided that in attendance there are at least 10 men every time.
The Vânători-Neamț Natural Park is one of the few places in Europe where you can see the continent’s heaviest wild land animal, the European bison (Bison bonasus). Part of a re-wilding project, the 11.500 hectare reservation is home to a large population of bison, some living in a restricted area, and several in the wild forests.
For the region of Moldavia, the head of the auroch (a now extinct type of large, wild cattle) is a heraldic symbol, also found on its coat of arms. Although bison are not related, the locals treasure this gentle herbivorous animal nonetheless.