The City of IaSi
Iași, the former capital of Moldavia, is is said to have a real vocation for history.
Iași is the 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.
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 Iași. 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 and later Ion Neculce, wrote most of their works in the city or not far from it and the great European fame scholar Dimitrie Cantemir also linked his name to the capital of Moldavia.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the many-sided scholar Gheorghe Asachi 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 "Mihaileana" Academy).
In 1600, Mihai Viteazul 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 (see more details in the "Histroy"-Section of our website...)
Iași continued to be the most important cultural centre of the country even after Bucarest became the capital of Romania in 1862. It is in Iași that the first Romanian university was founded in 1860 during the reign of Al.I. Cuza and in 1867 there appeared the review "Convorbiri literare" in which Ion Creanga's "Memories from My Boyhood" and the best poems by Eminescu, the "Morning Star" of Romanian poetry, were published. The reviews "Contemporanul" and "Viata romaneasca" 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 Iași: the chronicler Nicolae Milescu, the historian and political man Mihail Kogalniceanu, the poet Vasile Alecsandri, the writer Mihail Sadoveanu, the poet George Toparceanu, the writer Alecu Russo, the writer Ionel Teodoreanu, the literary critic Titu Maiorescu, the geographer Grigore Cobalcescu, the chemist Petru Poni, the historian A.D. Xenopol, the philosopher Vasile Conta, the sociologist Dimitrie Gusti, the geographer Emil Racovia, the philosopher Petru Andrei, the painter Octav Bancila and many others.
Iași, "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".