25 August 2016

After our strenuous experience at the Ukraine-Moldova border, we figured it would be a good idea to wake up early so that we could cross the Romanian border and still make it to Iasi at a decent hour. That didn’t happen.

We neared the Romanian border around 10:30, but between us stood between 50 and 100 vehicles waiting to cross.

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Chase graciously allowed me to write as he slowly inched the car forward.

About four hours later we were finally inside the checkpoint. Our vehicle was meticulously searched by the Moldavians unlike any other we’d seen, perhaps because it was a Ukrainian vehicle, perhaps because we are Americans. It took at least another hour to cross through Romanian security and purchase a new vignette.

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By the time we got into Romania it was about 4:00. We’d canceled our reservations as a result of the schedule change (due to the car mishap), but were able to purchase a room in the same hotel for a bit more.

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Around five we began to make our way through the city based on a route that I found online. It would be remiss to not mention that while I have in large part picked the sights and found the routes, Chase has been our navigator the entire trip. I am so impressed with his sense of direction.

Iasi was once the capitol of the Kingdom of Moldavia and briefly of the Kingdom of Romania. We had now made our way through the three regions of the Kingdom of Moldavia, including Bukovina and Bessarabia. Iasi is the culture capitol of Romania.

We started at the impressive early 20th Palace of Culture, which just so happened to be hosting a folk festival on the lawn.

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From there we made our way down Stefan Cel Mare Si Sfant Boulevard, the heart of the ‘Golden Plateau’, which features most of Iasi’s treasures:

Church of the Three Hierarchs (resting place of Alexandru Ioan Cuza)

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St. Paraschiva Metropolitan Cathedral

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National Theater

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City Hall

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On the way to the synagogue we were fortunate to see the University, which was briefly a royal residence in the late 19th century.

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The Great Synagogue of Iasi is the oldest in Romania and second oldest in all of Europe. It was founded in 1670 and served as the core of Iasi’s Jewish community, which at one point accounted for a majority of the city. We learned that the synagogue was built deep into the ground, as Jews were not allowed to build high structures.

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Outside there was a monument to the 13,000 Jews murdered in a 2 day pogrom in 1941.

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We eventually made our way back to the Palace of Culture. We ate a delicious dinner near the lawn, followed by a well-prepared hookah.

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Chase directed us back to our hotel around 10:00. I went to sleep very impressed by Iasi. Romania is clearly of the Western persuasion.

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