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The city of Iaşi lies on the Bahlui river, a tributary of the Prut river.
The surrounding country is one of uplands and woods, among which rise the monasteries of Cetatuia, Frumoasa, and Galata with its mineral springs, the water-cure establishment of Rapide and the great seminary of Socola. Jassy itself stands pleasantly amid vineyards and gardens, partly on two hills, partly in the hollow between. Its primitive houses of timber and plaster were mostly swept away after 1860, when brick or stone came into general use, and good streets were cut among the network of narrow, insanitary lanes.
Buildings and institutions
Jassy is the seat of the metropolitan of Moldavia, and of a Roman Catholic archbishop. Synagogues and churches abound. The two oldest churches date from the reign of Stephen the Great (1458-1504); perhaps the finest, however, are the 17th century metropolitan, St Spiridion and Trei Ierarhi, the last a curious example of Byzantine art, erected in 1639 or 1640 by Vasile Lupu, and adorned with countless gilded carvings on its outer walls and twin towers. The St Spiridion Foundation (due to the liberality of Prince Gregory Ghika in 1727, and available for the sick of all countries and creeds) has an annual income of over 80,000, and maintains hospitals and churches in several towns of Moldavia, besides the baths at Slanic in Walachia. The main hospital in Iasi is a large building, and possesses a maternity institution, a midwifery school, a chemical institute, an inoculating establishment, &c.
A society of physicians and naturalists has existed in Jassy since the early part of the 19-th century, and a number of periodicals are published.
Besides the university, founded by Prince Alexander John Cuza in 1864, with faculties of literature, philosophy, law, science and medicine, there are a military academy and schools of art, music and commerce; a museum, a fine hall and a theatre; the state library, where the chief records of Romanian history are preserved; an appeal court, a chamber of commerce and several banks. The city is the headquarters of the 4th army corps. It has an active trade in petroleum, salt, metals, timber, cereals, fruit, wine, spirits, preserved meat, textiles, clothing, leather, cardboard and cigarette paper.
The inscription by which the existence of a Jassiorum municipium in the time of the Roman Empire is sought to be proved, lies open to grave suspicion; but the city is mentioned as early as the 14th century, and probably does derive its name from the Jassians (Iazyges), or Uzes who accompanied the Cumanians. It was often visited by the Moldavian court. About 1564, Prince Alexander Lapusneanu, after whom one of the chief streets is named, chose Jassy for the Moldavian capital, instead of Suceava of Bukowina. It was already famous as a centre of culture.
Between 1561 and 1563 an excellent school and a Lutheran church were founded by the Greek adventurer, Jacob Basilicus . In 1643 the first printed book published in Moldavia was issued from a press established by Vasile Lupu. He also founded a school, the first in which the mother-tongue took the place of Greek. Jassy was burned by the Tatars in 1513, by the Turks in 1538, and by the Russians in 1686.
By the Peace of Jassy the second Russo-Turkish War was brought to a close in 1792. A Greek insurrection under Alexander Ypsilanti in 1821 led to the storming of the city by the Turks in 1822. In 1844 there was a severe conflagration.
For the loss caused to the city in 1861 by the removal of the seat of government to Bucharest the constituent assembly voted 148,150 to be paid in ten annual instalments, but no payment was ever made.
Iaşi is home to the oldest Romanian university, opened by Prince Alexander John Cuza in 1860. Nowadays the city hosts five universities. Iaşi is widely regarded as the cultural "heart" of the "Old Kingdom" (that is Moldavia and Wallachia, the basis of the first Romanian state).
Iaşi also figures prominently in Jewish history. In the mid-19th century, the city was at least one third Jewish. In 1855 it was the home of the first-ever Yiddish-language newspaper, Korot Haitim; in 1876 it was the site of what was arguably the first-ever professional Yiddish theater performance (See Abraham Goldfaden); during World War II it was the site of the Iaşi pogrom (June 29–July 6, 1941), in which several thousand Jews were killed; toward the end of the war, it played a prominent part in the revival of Yiddish culture in Romania: from 1949 to 1964, it was home to a second company of the State Jewish Theater.
- 1900: 78,000
- 1992: 344,425
- 2002: 320,888
Population density as of 2002: 3417/km²
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