Known as The Cultural Capital of Romania, Iași is a symbol in Romanian history. It has traditionally been one of the leading centers of Romanian social, cultural, academic and artistic life. Still referred to as The Moldavian Capital, Iași is the seat of Iași County and the main economic centre of the Romanian region of Moldavia. The city was the capital of the Principality of Moldavia from 1564 to 1859, then of the United Principalities from 1859 to 1862, and the capital of Romania from 1916 to 1918.
Among the nicknames for which Iaşi is famous, we could mention: The Cultural Capital of Romania, The City of Great Loves, The City of the Famous Destinies, The City of Great Ideas, The City of the Three Unions, The City on Seven Hills
Bearing in mind all of the above, students and professors could, in their free time, visit some of the city’s sights, among which are worth mentioning: The Palace of Culture, The Botanical Garden, The National Theater, The Metropolitan Cathedral, The Central University Library etc. The participants to this event can also get acquainted with the traditional local customs and cuisine by enjoying a meal at the locally famous “Bolta Rece” restaurant.
A. The Palace of Culture
The construction, started in 1906, was partly built on the old ruins of the mediaeval Royal Court of Moldavia (1434), and partly on top of the foundations of the former neoclassical style palace, dated to the time of Prince Alexandru Moruzi (1806), rebuilt by Prince Mihail Sturdza and dismantled in 1904. It was from this latter building that the Palace inherited the legend of the 365 rooms, as many as the days within one year.
The Romanian architect I.D. Berindei was assigned to plan the building and he designed it in flamboyant neo-Gothic style. During World War I, the construction halted due to the limitation of resources. The monument was inaugurated on 11 October 1925 by King Ferdinand of Romania.
The Palace has 298 large rooms with a total area of over 36,000 m2 (390,000 sq ft), 92 windows in the front part of the building and another 36 inside the building.
Decoratively, the central hall shows a figurative mosaic including various representations of a gothic bestiary, concentrically arranged: two-headed eagles, dragons, griffons, lions. The hall is superposed by a glass ceiling room, where initially a greenhouse was arranged.
B. The Metropolitan Cathedral
The cathedral was consecrated on 23 April 1887, in the presence of King Carol I and Queen Elisabeth, who had donated large sums for the project. In 1889, the relics of Saint Paraschiva, patron saint of Moldavia, were brought from Trei Ierarhi Monastery and continue to attract crowds of pilgrims, particularly on her feast day (October 14). These are located on the right side of the vestibule, as are those of Veniamin Costache
C. The Cuza Palace
The Museum of the Union is situated in the city centre, on 14, Lapusneanu Str., and contains a valuable patrimony of modern history.
The museum building is in itself the most important museum exhibit. Even without any furniture, the edifice is a point of attraction. The age of the construction, the architectural style, the positioning in its urban landscape and especially the exceptional destiny of the building, which was the residence of Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza and later of on King Ferdinand are arguments in this regard.
Built at the beginning of the 19th century in neoclassical style, during the decades that followed, the house became the property of several famous noble families of Moldavia : Catargi, Paladi, Cantacuzino-Pascanu, Ghica.
The museum patrimony includes a wide variety of items of special historical, memorial, documentary, and also artistic value: documents, rare books, old maps, photographs, costumes, decorative art (furniture, porcelain, silver ware, clocks, lighting items, carpets) belonging to the Cuza princely family, but also to the aristocrats of the period. The museum also has a valuable collection of old coins and medals.
D. The National Theatre
It was built between 1894-1896, by the well-known Viennese architects, Fellner and Helmer.
In 1956, when celebrating 140 years since the first performance in Romanian language, the theatre in Iasi received the name of the great poet, playwright and man of culture, Vasile Alecsandri (1821-1890). Nowadays, the building also hosts the Iași Romanian National Opera. The Iași National Theatre building is listed in the National Register of Historic Monuments.
E. The Central University Library
The library was established on 8 November 1839 and opened on 23 November 1841, carrying on the tradition of the activity and fame of the old library of Academia Vasiliană, founded in 1640. Functioning closely with Academia Mihăileană, founded in 1835, it had the double character of a school library and a public library. In 1860, when the academy was transformed into the new University of Iași, the library became the Central University Library of Iași. However, its university character was soon changed again, for in 1864 the Regulation for Public Libraries transformed it into the Central State Library of Iași, with a national library profile but also playing the role of a university library. This double character continued until 1916, when the library once again assumed its current name. After World War II, it moved into the building of the King Ferdinand I Foundation’s Library, the collections of which it now includes This structure was built between 1930 and 1934 by the engineer Emil Prager following architect Constantin Jotzu’s plans. The interior features Carrara marble and Venetian mosaic, while the exterior is decorated with Ionic columns, neo-Doric pilasters, small triangular pediments and medallions of important cultural figures.