Iasi, the Romanian city of the seven hills, is by far the most interesting in Moldavia region. It has a cultural heritage nowhere else to be seen in Romania, and in the same time is rapidly turning into an IT hub for the thousands of performers taking over the business environment. It is no wonder why the city is both suitable for any culture lover keen to learn the history of Moldavia, as well as for those who want to have some genuine, Romanian fun. Let's take a look at the milestones of one of the most important places to see in Romania!
Iasi International Airport is one of the best connected in Romania, having direct flights from and towards any important city in Europe.
Like in Brasov, Sibiu, Targu Mures or any other major Romanian city, the meeting point in Iasi is usually in a central square. Piata Unirii is a historical place which marks the Unification between Moldavia and Wallachia on January 24, 1859: each year on this date, people join the traditional "Hora" - a popular Romanian dance signifying the communion and fellowship of Romanians everywhere.
From the square, all main sights are within walking distance on the two pedestrian streets:
1. Lapusneanu street, a place full of history and significance for the romantic citizens of Iasi, leading towards Eminescu Square, Carol (Copou) Boulevard and some further places to explore:
Ion Creanga Museum - a small, modest house where the famous Romanian writer spent almost his entire life developing his work; a must-do for anyone wishing to understand the life and heritage of one of the most important artist of Romania;
Golia Monastery - also housing a museum dedicated to Ion Creanga (a priest here in his early life), offering the opportunity to climb into the bell tower for a magnificent view over the city
Copou Park - a calm, relaxing garden, where our national poet Mihai Eminescu used to find his inspiration under an old linden tree;
Iasi Botanical Garden - the first one of this kind to be settled in Romania, another beautiful green oasis to spend an hour or two.
2. Stefan cel Mare si Sfant boulevard (the so-called Golden Plateau):
The Vasile Alecsandri National Theatre – the 2nd most beautiful in the world and the oldest in Romania (built in 1840)
The Metropolitan Cathedral – the largest Orthodox church in Romania, where thousands of pilgrims from all over the country pray to the relics of its patron, Saint Parascheva, every year on October 14
The Monastery of the Three Holy Hierarchs – a must-see due to its stunning decorations
Dosoftei House - one of the oldest building in Iasi, showcasing the history of old literature and printing in Iasi
And finally, at the end of the boulevard, the main landmark of the city, probably the most impressive building in Romania:
As you can see, the Palace of Culture is a gigantic complex, standing high in front of the Golden Plateau.
It houses four different museums, all of them worth a visit: The Art Museum (the largest art collection in Romania); The Moldavia's History Museum (the development of Moldavia, from prehistoric to contemporary times); The Ethnographic Museum (displaying tipical Moldavian objects and traditions) and The Science and Technique Museum (dedicated to technical discoveries during the second part of the 20th century).
Apart from its fabulous cultural legacy, Iasi stands out as one of the most entertaining places in Romania. The city adapts itself to the modern times and looks to serve the younger generation of students, locals and tourists with the widest variety of activities.
Behind the palace, culture suddenly ends and is replaced with the fun part of the city... If the palace is there to impress you with its majestic size, the back of it has everything you need to spend every evening of your city-break in this area!
An amazing esplanade separates the Palace of Culture from Palas Mall, an internationally award-winning shopping center, attracting over 16 million visitors every year.
It is a true modern city in the heart of Iasi, with 270 stores, the largest food court in the region, office buildings, event halls and a huge park full of entertainment opportunities and beautiful belvedere points over the palace.
You will have the tendency to spend every minute of your trip in this area, but if you wanna try something different you can also check:
Tiki Village on the shore of Venice lake, a perfect replica of any exotic Asian or Hawaiian beach; it has the largest floating pool in Europe and offers access to swimming pool, beach parties, kayak, boat rental and many more;
Hamak Adventure Park - 12 km away from the city center, dedicated to all types of activities suitable outdoor (5 routes for all levels of expertise, as well as horse riding, paintball, fishing, archery, trampoline, mini-golf, bike rental, board games or chess);
Here are a few more reasons to visit Iasi this year:
A few places outside Iasi are also worth a visit:
Neamt Fortress - one of the most important monuments of Romania, located 100 km away from Iasi and transporting its visitors into the times of Stephen the Great - the most important ruler of Moldavia (1457 - 1504). The citadel is placed on a 1000-meter-high hill, and access is made through a wild forest and a suspended bridge. The imposing building has 20-meter-high rocky defensive walls - it is said it has never been conquered by Turkish or Polish invaders.
Ruginoasa Palace - former Moldavian residence of Al. I. Cuza, the prince who unified Wallachia with Moldavia in 1859. Today it's a beautiful museum, mostly interesting both for its impressive architecture and the hologram of Cuza himself presenting the history of the place to his guests.
Sturdza Castle, Miclauseni - the most important castle in the region of Iasi, recently renovated and reopened for public; it is a fabulous domain designed by the wealthy Sturdza family, where the castle together with the stone church and the monastery are located within a huge park - a natural forest with over 90 species of plants;
Cotnari. The small village close to Iasi is the best place to taste the legacy of the excellent Romanian wines. Cotnari is a multiple award-winning vineyard, with no less than 77 international medals solely in 2016. You will enjoy wine-tasting sessions, visits to the cellars dating back to Stephen the Great, or the factory producing 4-6 million bottles per year.
2 days for visiting the city;
1 day for Tiki Village and Hamak Adventure Park;
0.5 day for reaching and visiting Neamt Fortress;
1 day for Ruginoasa, Miclauseni and Cotnari;
A room for two persons is more than affordable as always in Romania - check out here a few recommendations;
A meal at a top restaurant should cost around 25-30 Euro for two persons.
Some of the entrance fees for 1 adult: Palace of Culture - 9 Euro; Tiki Village - 7 Euro the most expensive with several discounts; Neamt Fortress - 1 Euro; Ruginoasa Palace - 3 Euro.
These are only my favorite of the most popular things to do during a city-break in Iasi. With a history spanning over 700 years, more than 100 churches and monasteries, both in the city and on the surrounding hills, an excellent wine legacy and one of the most fulfilling city centers in Romania, Iasi is definitely a top destination for any taste!
So, I can only hope you find this helpful and will give a chance to complex Iasi in the near future!
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