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Top 10 Things to do in Iasi

After we had spent enjoyable four days with our friends in a small city called Suceava, celebrating them at their wedding and making new friendships, too, we commenced our vacation the minute we boarded the train which was to take us to our first stop of our three-week road trip, Iasi. In a different time, when Moldova wasn’t its own country yet, but part of a united Romania, Iasi was the capital of the region, Moldova. When considering the history of the country and the size of the city as the fourth largest city in Romania, it might not come as a surprise that Iasi holds the title as Romania’s cultural capital. We had three full days to spend in Iasi, where the Palace of Culture alone took us one day to explore fully. Even though we travelled during the hottest month of the year, July, we found the city to be very much alive filled with young and lively students, beautiful churches and stunning architecture.

This iconic building was built on the site of the former 15th century Royal Court of Moldavia

1. Palace of Culture

For the first evening in Iasi, we had arranged a dinner out in town with a couple of friends who had attended the wedding as well, together with a couple of their friends, too. After wandering around for some while and enjoying the city by night, we came across this gigantic landmark – the Palace of Culture. This iconic building, located in the very centre of the city was built on the site of the former 15th century Royal Court of Moldavia. The building was completed in 1925 in a Neo-Gothic style and served until 1955 as the Administrative and Justice Palace. It has since been turned into a museum with four different sections – the Art Museum, Moldavia’s History Museum, the Ethnographic Museum of Moldavia and the Science and Technology Museum. The palace covers a whole of 34.236 sqm with a total of 298 rooms which makes this palace one of the biggest buildings in the entire country. The Palace of Culture truly is a place to spend an entire day alone and the first thing to have on your top-10-things-to-do-list in Iasi.

The Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the six Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedrals in Romania

2. The Metropolitan Cathedral

After we had started the first day with a quick detour to the Golia Monastery, it was apart from that dedicated to walking down the grand boulevard, which stretches from the northern part to the southern part of the historical centre of the city, concluding at the Palace of Culture, which stands splendidly in the centre, not to miss the eye. The “Boulevard of Stephan the Great and Holy” was formerly known as the Princely Street. Along the boulevard are most of the main attractions in Iasi, such as the National Theatre, The City Hall and several churches, including the Metropolitan Cathedral. The Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the six Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedrals in Romania and the largest of them all in the entire country. For the Orthodox religion, this is one of the holiest places in Romania and you can therefore expect a larger crowd in this church than any other in Iasi. The cathedral was built from 1833 to 1887 on the site of two previous churches from the 15th and 17th century.

The church was built between 1637 and 1639 by the great voivode Vasile Lupu

3. Three Holy Hierarchs Monastery

Further down along the big boulevard in the historical centre of the city, lays another unique monument - the Three Holy Hierarchs Monastery. From afar the façade of the church looks somewhat monotonous with the same colour from top to bottom. Moving closer to the building, what meets the eye is striking; the entire surface of the exterior walls is decorated in thousands of small, beautiful sculpted ornamentations. Every single motive has been carved out of stone blocks, one by one with such a meticulously accuracy. The stone decorations are a blend of inspiration from various cultural styles such as both Asian and Western elements. The church was built between 1637 and 1639 by the great voivode Vasile Lupu at the time when Iasi was the capital of Moldavia. It was intentionally built to be a royal burial ground which is why the tomb of the founder of the Lupu family can be found in the church narthex.

Anastasie Faut Botanical Garden - the oldest and largest botanical garden in Romania

4. Botanical Garden

On our third day in Iasi, the route took us to a different part of the city, the Copou neighbourhood which is located in the northern part of Iasi, hosting the city’s university, a park and the botanical garden. Moving away from the buzzling city centre, the noise seems to disappear with every step into this neighbourhood, containing so many peaceful and quiet corners. One of them is the “Anastasie Faut Botanical Garden, the oldest and largest botanical garden in Romania. It was established in 1856 and named after its original founder “Anastasie Fatu”. The garden is rather large with its 100 ha, though some parts are better maintained than others. Especially interesting is the rose collection with a huge number of roses I have never seen anywhere else. Unfortunately, we visited the garden at a time when most roses had already finished blooming, but what a treat it must have been to visit the garden with the roses in full bloom.

This is the oldest national theatre in Romania

5. National Theatre

My weakness for Neoclassical architecture is no big secret. Thus, when visiting another big stop along the boulevard, the National Theatre, my eyes were sparkling. This is the oldest national theatre in Romania and one of the most prestigious theatrical institutions, too. The National Theatre was founded in 1840 and has since the restauration of the completely burned down original theatre building in 1888 been hosted in the new Neoclassical theatre building which was inaugurated in 1896. The works to restore the building took two years and was built after the plans of Viennese architects, Fellner and Helmer, who also erected theatres in Vienne, Prague and many other cities. This building truly is an architectural jewel and should you not happen to visit it from the inside, it is just as beautiful to visit it from the outside.

The church was erected in the 16th century

6. Golia Monastery

After spending the first day in Iasi exploring the Palace of Culture, the second day very much felt like a church-hopping day. Romania hosts a countless number of religious institutions and in Iasi alone you can easily spend half a day exploring the city’s holy places. The Golia Monastery is one of such religious places to visit in Iasi. Located in the centre of the historical part, the church was erected in the 16th century and later rebuilt by Voivode Vasile Lupu between 1650 and 1653. The monastery is enclosed by high stone walls featuring corner turrets and a 30 metres high tower from where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the city.

This church was founded by Stefan the Great between 1491 and 1492

7. Saint Nicholas Church

Continuing our church-hopping tour to another one, the Saint Nicholas Church which is a close neighbour to the Palace of Culture. This church was founded by Stefan the Great between 1491 and 1492 making it the oldest church in Iasi. The site of the church was meticulously chosen with its close proximity to the Royal Court which at that time was located where the Palace of Culture stands today. At that time the cathedral functioned as a royal cathedral where royal ceremonies would be held. The church has over the centuries been struck with several unlucky accidents such as fires and earthquakes and thus had to be rebuilt several times. The version you see today originates from 1888 to 1904.

Coupou Park - one of the first public gardens in Romania

8. Copou Park

Our third day in Iasi started out with an extended walk to the Copou neighbourhood which is where you will find a quiet, peaceful corner in Iasi. Romania amazed me over and over again with their well-maintained gardens and parks; despite the hot temperatures, their parks are still so lush and green with a meticulously and creatively planed layout. The Copou Park is no exception. The park has a long history as such, going all the way back to 1834 which makes it one of the first public gardens in Romania and the oldest public park in Iasi. At the time of its establishment the location of the park was at a larger distance to the city, turning it into a destination for the aristocracy for a leisurely excursion. Today the park is rather within the city limits but still makes for a great destination to relax and escape the bustling noise of the city centre.

The Catholic Cathedral Saint Mary - a true gem of modern architecture

9. The Catholic Church Saint Mary

Which had already turned out to be a church-hopping day, might as well have continued as such, was our mindset when we from afar saw what looked like a modern construction of a church and out of curiosity turned in to a side street from the big boulevard. What was hiding in the second row behind the buildings along the boulevard, was the Catholic Cathedral Saint Mary, a true gem of modern architecture. You might almost call it recently finished with its completion being as recent as 2005. This cathedral was impressive in a different way than the other churches and refreshingly so. Whereas the orthodox churches are undoubtedly beautiful and impressive with their classical, traditional design, this place was unlike the other major religious places in Iasi, but nonetheless just as impressive.

A beautiful library located inside the Technical University

10. Technical University (Library)

Before coming to Iasi, I had researched what to see and do in the city and had several times come across pictures of this beautiful library located inside the Technical University. For obvious reasons, we had to hunt down this place to witness its beauty in real life. Unfortunately, most of the university was closed, probably due to summer vacation, which left us only with the vast entrance hall to explore. Afterwards, I learned that the library is open from October to June. Are you visiting Iasi during this period of time, I would highly recommend you visiting it.

2 comentarios

21 feb 2023

These are great places and the first one with the night and lights look so cool. I will keep these in mind. Thank you for sharing!

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Marissa Matthiesen
Marissa Matthiesen
17 mar 2023
Contestando a

Hi! Thanks for dropping by 😊🙏 Romania is quite a beautiful country and very affordable, too 🥰

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