Iasi History, Romania
Iasi History – Iasi in the Middle Ages and Early Modernity
Iasi is the second most populous city in Romania and the cultural and economic centre of the historic region of Moldavia. Iasi history goes back to the Middle Ages, when the city served as a residence for the Moldavian voivodes. It hasn’t been established exactly when the city of Iasi came into existence, but it is first attested in a royal charter issued by Voivode Alexandru cel Bun, in 1404.
By the middle of 15th century, Iasi had significantly grown, so that Prince Alexandru Lapusneanu chose Iasi to be the capital of Moldavia. Back then, Iasi was already a cosmopolitan city, where Romanians, Armenians and Jews represented the major ethnic groups, to which we can add diplomats, traders and artisans of different nationalities.
The Middle Ages represented a dramatic period in Iasi history, as the city had to face numerous attacks, coming from the Tatars, Ottomans and Russians. Voivode Vasile Lupu was the one to encourage the city’s cultural life, founding the first Romanian school and first printing press. Some of Iasi’s most prestigious monuments of architecture were built in the 17th and 18th centuries: schools, orthodox churches, synagogues.
Iasi History – Iasi across the 19th and 20th centuries
The 19th century represented the most intense period in the history of Iasi, as the city played a major role in the development of the Romanian culture. Most Moldavian intellectuals were living in Iasi at that time, and together they contributed to a revival of the national identity and values. Therefore, on 5 January 1959, colonel Alexandru Ioan Cuza was elected the Prince of Moldavia, then Wallachia (24 Jan.), this way becoming the ruler of the United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia.
Iasi represented an inspiration for numerous artists and writers, many of them centered around ‘Junimea’ literary society: Titu Maiorescu, Iacob Negruzzi, Vasile Alecsandri, Ion Creanga and Mihai Eminescu. The 19th century is also when the first national theatre, an academy of science and the first modern university in Romanian were founded in Iasi.
During World War I, Iasi became the temporary capital of the country, as the German occupation forced the King and the government to retreat. In the Second World War, Iasi was to face even more dramatic events: approximately 2000 Jews were killed in the summer of 1941, in what is known as the Iasi Pogrom.
Today, Iasi represents an important tourist attraction on the map of Romania, as well as one of the largest academic centers in the country (only surpassed in number of students by Bucharest, Timisoara and Cluj-Napoca).
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