Iasi is the most important political, economic and cultural centre of the province of Moldavia as well as one of the oldest cities in Romania. Located in the northeastern part of the country, Iasi was for many centuries the crossing point of the most important commercial routes linking Poland, Hungary, Russia and Constantinople.
Deeply rooted in history, Iasi has been the main centre of Moldavian culture since 1408. The city prides itself with publishing the first Romanian newspaper and establishing the first Romanian university. Today, Iasi is home to five universities.
Over the past 500 years, history, culture and religious life have molded the city's unique character. Iasi boasts an impressive number of Orthodox churches, almost 100, most of them located in the so-called Golden Plateau (Platoul de Aur). The oldest, the Princely Saint Nicholas Church, dates from the reign of Stephen the Great (Stefan cel Mare, 1457-1504). The finest, however, are the 17th century St. Paraschiva Metropolitan Cathedral and Trei Ierarhi Church, the last a curious example of Byzantine art, erected in 1635-1639 by Vasile Lupu. Its outer walls and twin towers are intricately carved in what many think of as stone lace.
Iasi is among the very few cities in the Orthodox world with more than 100 churches.
In 1565, Iasi became the capital of Moldavia and for a short period of time, from 1859 until 1862, the capital of Romania.
The Golden Plateau represents the nucleus of the city, around which the entire settlement developed over the centuries. With the Palace of Culture at one end and the Union Square (Piata Unirii) at the other, the Golden Plateau features churches and princely palaces on both sides of Stefan cel Mare si Sfant Boulevard, which runs right through its centre. Many other important sites can be found on nearby streets.