(Jassy), also known as "the town of the seven hills", is
the most important political, economic and cultural centre of Moldavia
and one of the oldest cities in Romania. Situated in the North-East
of Romania, between the Moldavian Plateau and Jijia Plain, on the
River Bahlui, it used to be the crossing place of the most important
commercial roads that passed through Moldavia coming from Poland,
Hungary, Russia and Constantinopole. Iasi has a strong and diverse
high education system, powerful research and development, and of a
vast poll of cultural and architectural treasures. These are making
Iasi City as the recognized spiritual capital of Romania.
Iasi, the former capital of Moldavia, is a city which has a real vocation
for history. Archaelogical investigations attest the presence of human
communities on the present territory of the city and around it as
far back as the prehistoric age. But the beginnings of urban life
in lasi are to be found in the second half of the 14th century, the
name of the city being mentioned for the first time in a document
about commercial privilege granted by the Moldavian ruler Alexandru
cel Bun to the Polish merchants of Lvov in 1408.
Major events in the political and cultural history of Moldavia are
connected with the name of the city of Iasi. Thus it is here that
we can trace the roots of the Romanian national historiography. The
great scholars of the 17th century - "the golden age" of
Romanian culture - namely Grigore Ureche, Miron
Costin (1633-1691) and later Ion Neculce, wrote most of their
works in the city or not far from it and the great European fame scholar
Cantemir (1673-1723) also linked his name to the capital of Moldavia.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the many-sided scholar Gheorghe
Asachi (1788-1869) laid the foundation of the national school in the
Romanian language and, in 1829, he published the first newspaper in
Romanian. And it was also here that the first superior institute in
the country was founded in 1835 (The "Mihăileană" Academy).
In 1600, Mihai
The Brave (ruler of Valachia between 1593-1601) sanctioned here
the union of the three Romanian principalities and in 1848 the Revolution
which was to spread all over the country burst out here. This same
town was the place where Alexandru loan Cuza was elected ruler of
Moldavia (January 5th, 1859), the first step in fulfilling the Romanians'
desire of forming a single unified country named Romania.
Iasi continued to be the most important cultural centre of the country
even after Bucarest became the capital of Romania in 1862. It is in
Iasi that the
first Romanian university was founded in 1860 during the reign
Ioan Cuza (1820-1873) and in 1867 there appeared the review "Convorbiri
literare" in which Ion
Creangă's "Memories from My Boyhood" and the best poems
Eminescu, the "Morning Star" of Romanian poetry, were
published. The reviews "Contemporanul" and "Viata românească"
appearead in 1871, respectively in 1906 and had a great contribution
to promoting our national cultural values.
Many great personalities of Romanian culture are connected to Iasi:
the chronicler Nicolae Milescu, the historian and political man Mihail
Kogălniceanu, the poet Vasile
Alecsandri (1821-1890), the writer Mihail
Sadoveanu, the poet George Topârceanu, the writer Alecu Russo,
the writer Ionel Teodoreanu, the literary critic Titu Maiorescu, the
geographer Grigore Cobălcescu, the chemist Petru Poni, the historian
Xenopol (1847-1920), the philosopher Vasile Conta (1845-1882),
the sociologist Dimitrie Gusti, the geographer Emil Racovită, the
philosopher Petru Andrei, the painter Octav Băncilă and many others.
Iasi does not only belong to its inhabitants. It has the rare and
hardly acquired privilege of being everyone's. It is not only the
metaphisical city of tolls, hills, monuments and undescriptible sunsets,
but also the town with the highest density of poets and museums in
South-Eastern Europe. Through everything it has, this town stands
for some sort of national library, a tiny but expressive part of the
European and Universal collection. Immortalized in stamps and paintings,
the town flows slowly into the conscience of the world. Thus, the
year 1647 finds Bandini comparing it to a "new Rome".
The years of Junimea
(cultural society, school of poetry, lectures, journals and modern
criticism) have been the most fruitful in the literary history of
our nation. There are in Jassy many churches from the XVIth and the
XVIIth centuries, among which is the church Trei
Ierarhi. In Jassy there is The
Culture Palace, with Museums of History, Art, Etnography
National Theatre, a Philharmonic Orchestra, the Metropolitan
The first University in the country is Al.
I. Cuza University from Iasi (1860). In Iasi, the pupils population
is 202,990 persons (25% from the County's population) while students'
percentage is 401/10,000 inhabitants (the highest in the country).
There are many state and private universities, a branch of Romanian
Academy and there are also many libraries and foreign cultural
centres, among which there are The
French Cultural Centre, The German Cultural Centre, The British
Iasi, "the city of great loves", represents a symbol of
Romanian history about which Nicolae lorga rightly said "there
should be no Romanian who does not know it".