Iași – Moldova’s capital

Iași, once Romania’s capital, the current capital of the Moldova region, was on our list for a long time. We managed to visit it for the first time in the summer of 2014. Unfortunately we made the mistake of only planning 24 hours in Iași. This city was a very nice surprise for us. We didn’t expect to see so many beautiful places, nice people and history at every corner.

We fitted Iași in our 2014 Tour of Romania just between the Danube Delta and the Ceahlău Mountains. We reached Iași at 6 PM after a tiresome road from Tulcea. Because we didn’t want to miss one moment from our short stay here we decided to go visit immediately after we checked in. 

We didn’t really plan an itinerary here but we knew some general things that basically every Romanian knows, like Eminescu’s linden tree. Mihai Eminescu is the most famous Romanian writer with many well known poems. So off we go to the famous tree. We took a taxi and we told him what we wanted to see and he was nice enough to recommend us another route and the first thing on the list was the Botanical Garden. 

Botanical Garden entrance

The Botanical Garden is beautiful, very well kept with a lot of plant species. There’s an area with large and well-arranged cacti. There’s also a lake, an area dedicated to roses. Every area is well-arranged and we liked it here, but we couldn’t stay to much because we has a lot to see 🙂

Copou park. Eminescu’s linden tree

Evening came and we were still in the Botanical Garden. We quickly reached Copou Park which is just down the street. We immediately got to the famous tree which is brightly illuminated by reflectors. Mihai Eminescu, Romania’s national poet, is paid a tribute in this place where a mosaic stone inscripted with 3 stanzas from the Dorința poem (The wish) is laid before the tree. It’s said that here, under this linden tree, Mihai Eminescu found inspiration . In his walks along the alleys of the Copou Park found this linden tree and fell in love with it. He came often to gather his thoughts or to talk with his good friend Ion Creangă on a bench near the linden tree.

This tree is about 250 years old and it’s supported by some steel lacing since it’s cracked along the middle. It’s a beautiful place where a lot of locals and tourists come and take a walk, play or just relax in nature.


Because we had a long day – we left the Danube Delta at 7 AM in Sfântu Gheorghe, reached Tulcea after 5 hours by ship and afterwards a tiresome road to Iași – we decided to wrap it up. We found a nice terrace, we ate something nice, we drank a beer and then got ready for next days challenge: to visit the rest of the tourist attractions in Iași in under 6 hours 🙂 Challenge accepted! 😀 You can see the route we took the first night on the map below:




The next day we had a really tight schedule since we also had to reach Piatra Neamț and finally to Izvorul Muntelui at the base of the Ceahlău Mountains. So our plan was to leave at least at 12 in the afternoon but, as you will see, the was going to change radically 🙂
We soon ran into some spectacular monuments, so many in fact that we had to postpone our leave. We discovered that Iași is full of churches with very beautiful architecture.

The first one was Bărboi Church. It has a simple and clean architecture. We loved the simple but effective horizontal brick belt surrounding the church. Pictures below:


Bărboi Church
Bărboi Church – brick belt

Nearby you can also find the lovely Golia Monastery which is truly iconic. It was built in the 16th century and rebuild in 1660. The church is surrounded by defence walls and a 30 meters high tower, with 1 meter thick walls, guards the entrance. Tourists can visit the tower after buying a ticket and a guide will accompany you and tell you all about the monastery and other interesting facts about Iași. You’ll have to climb 120 stairs to reach the top but until reaching the top you can visit several side rooms which were occupied by galleries with works from a local artist.

On top you’ll have a great vantage point towards the city and is a good place to plan your next touristic target. Here you can also see that Iași is placed between 7 hills just like Rome. The church in this monastery has an atypical architecture for an orthodox church since it combines baroque and byzantine styles. It’s a beautiful place, recently restored with European funds, just like many of the monuments in Iași, especially the religious ones.


Golia Monastery
Golia Monastery – the defence tower
Golia Monastery

From Golia Monastery we continue and head on Armenian street where you can visit the Armenian Church. Unfortunately it was closed when we were there. Just around the corner we found the most unusual orthodox church we’ve ever seen: Saint Sava Church. As you can see in the pictures below it is completely unlike the classic orthodox church. It’s one of the oldest churches in Iași, built in a byzantine style, with two towers and is unique in Romania for the usage of mixed byzantine, oriental and Moldavian Gothic architectural styles.

Saint Sava Church
Saint Sava Church
Saint Sava Church

It was already 12 in the afternoon and our plan to leave Iași was clearly compromised 🙂 We decided to stay for a few hours more in order too see all the city’s must-sees. We got a bit hungry and there is a mall right in the centre of the city, called Pallas, right next to the Palace of Culture. It’s a good thing we got inside the mall since they have air conditioning and outside was really, really hot. This mall also has a terrace facing the back of the Palace of Culture and the view from here towards the palace and the park is very nice.

Pallas mall
Eastern wing of the Palace of Culture
Eastern wing of the Palace of Culture

After we filled up we went right on the terrace to see the eastern wing of the Palace of Culture. Then we went downstairs and headed to the beautiful park that is perfectly maintained and a lovely place to be. Being here in this park and seeing the palace we felt just like at Belvedere Palace in Vienna. It’s no exaggeration. It’s very beautiful and very elegant here! 🙂

Eastern wing of the Palace of Culture (looks like Belvedere Palace in Vienna)
Eastern wing of the Palace of Culture
Eastern wing of the Palace of Culture
view towards the park

Several tens of pictures later….we walked by the side of the palace and we saw how beautifully restored it is. Only the facade remains to be restored but it should be finished in 2015 – 2016. This area especially has a very modern feel and it really feels like a European city. Several big Romanian cities are transforming themselves and highlighting their monuments, architecture and culture. This is the way to go if we want to offer quality tourism!

Eastern wing of the Palace of Culture
Culture Palace – facade

From this beautiful palace we continue on Ștefan cel Mare și Sfânt street which is pedestrian. This street contains several tourist attractions that must be seen by someone who visits Iași. The first one is the Sfinții Trei Ierarhi Monastery (Three Holy Hierarchs Monatsery). It was built between 1637 and 1639 as a royal necropolis, reflecting the founder’s aspiration to the Byzantine world, combining traditional shapes and structures with precious materials and gorgeous decorations. The unique beauty is given by the stone embroidery on the exterior walls.. Thirty ornamental moldings can be seen on the church’s wall from the base to the towers.

Three Holy Hierarchs Monastery
Three Holy Hierarchs Monastery – stone moldings
Three Holy Hierarchs Monastery – stone moldings
Three Holy Hierarchs Monastery

On this pedestrian street you can also find the Metropolitan Cathedral of Moldova and Bucovina, which is one of the six metropolitan cathedrals in Romania. The construction was finished in 1880. The cathedral is a monumental building, imposing, having 4 towers at each corner. The architecture is inspired from the late Italian renaissance period. The decorations are dominated by baroque elements. At this cathedral each year, on the 14th of October, takes place the largest pilgrimage in Romania where Cuvioasa Parascheva is celebrated. During this period the reliquary with the relics is taken outside so pilgrims can pray.

Metropolitan Cathedral
Town hall
National Theatre

On the same pedestrian street you can see other historical buildings where the Town Hall and National Theatre function today.

We stretched our schedule as far as we could but it was time to go. At 3 PM we were on our way to Piatra Neamț and the Ceahlău Mountains for another great adventure! 🙂


We truly enjoyed Iași, it surprised us more than pleasantly and we recommend you visit the capital of Moldova and all its extraordinary history. Below you can find the map of our route the second day of our stay:

Below you have other pictures from Iași. Enjoy! 🙂

aranjament floral sub formă de păun
Botanical Garden
zona de deșert
Botanical Garden
Eminescu’s linden tree
Eminescu’s linden tree
Tower of Bărboi Church
Golia Monastery entrance
Golia Monastery
Golia Monastery – art gallery
Golia Monastery
park behind the Palace of Culture

 

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