One of Romania’s oldest and most historically significant cities, at the crossroads of Poland, Hungary, Russia and Turkey, Iași (pronounced ‘yash’) in Moldavia is widely regarded as the country’s cultural capital, where numerous churches, museums and monasteries provide compelling glimpses into the city's past. Add five universities and a lively student population, and a trip to Iași from Glasgow Airport will reveal an understated yet welcoming city with a thriving café and nightlife culture.
The Golden Plateau
Iasi’s main sights are found in the so-called Golden Plateau in the centre of the city. The grand, 365-room neo-Gothic Palace of Culture, which hosts four museums, sits at one end; highlights include the Art Museum, with works by Romanian and international artists, and Moldavia’s History Museum, which explores the history of the province from the first settlements until the present day. At the other end is Union Square, with the elegant Gustave Eiffel-designed Grand Hotel Traian and plenty of outdoor cafes from which to people-watch.
Saints and Saviours
Joining these two landmarks, Stefan cel Mare si Sfant Boulevard features a number of notable buildings, such as St Paraschiva Metropolitan Cathedral - a 19th century Orthodox church built in the Italian Renaissance style. Another highlight is The Church of Three Hierarchs, now a monastery, featuring exquisite stone pattern work on its exterior and containing the tombs of some of the country’s most notable princes.
Spiced pork and plum brandy
No visit to Romania is complete without sampling the country's hearty, comforting cuisine; look out for sarmale, cabbage rolls stuffed with spiced pork and rice and mici, finger-sized minced meat sausages fresh off the barbecue often found as street food. Romania is one of Europe’s biggest wine producers and it's not hard to find a decent bottle to accompany your meal; local beers are excellent too, and there’s always the option of a shot of tuica, the local plum brandy.