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Iasi (Jassy), also known as "the town of the seven hills", is the most important political, economic and cultural centre of Moldavia and one of the oldest cities in Romania. Situated in the North-East of Romania, between the Moldavian Plateau and Jijia Plain, on the River Bahlui, it used to be the crossing place of the most important commercial roads that passed through Moldavia coming from Poland, Hungary, Russia and Constantinopole. Iasi has a strong and diverse high education system, powerful research and development, and of a vast poll of cultural and architectural treasures. These are making Iasi City as the recognized spiritual capital of Romania.

Iasi, the former capital of Moldavia, is a city which has a real vocation for history. Archaelogical investigations attest the presence of human communities on the present territory of the city and around it as far back as the prehistoric age. But the beginnings of urban life in lasi are to be found in the second half of the 14th century, the name of the city being mentioned for the first time in a document about commercial privilege granted by the Moldavian ruler Alexandru cel Bun to the Polish merchants of Lvov in 1408.

Major events in the political and cultural history of Moldavia are connected with the name of the city of Iasi. Thus it is here that we can trace the roots of the Romanian national historiography. The great scholars of the 17th century - "the golden age" of Romanian culture - namely Grigore Ureche, Miron Costin (1633-1691) and later Ion Neculce, wrote most of their works in the city or not far from it and the great European fame scholar Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723) also linked his name to the capital of Moldavia.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the many-sided scholar Gheorghe Asachi (1788-1869) laid the foundation of the national school in the Romanian language and, in 1829, he published the first newspaper in Romanian. And it was also here that the first superior institute in the country was founded in 1835 (The "Mihăileană" Academy).

In 1600, Mihai The Brave (ruler of Valachia between 1593-1601) sanctioned here the union of the three Romanian principalities and in 1848 the Revolution which was to spread all over the country burst out here. This same town was the place where Alexandru loan Cuza was elected ruler of Moldavia (January 5th, 1859), the first step in fulfilling the Romanians' desire of forming a single unified country named Romania.

Iasi continued to be the most important cultural centre of the country even after Bucarest became the capital of Romania in 1862. It is in Iasi that the first Romanian university was founded in 1860 during the reign of Alexandru Ioan Cuza (1820-1873) and in 1867 there appeared the review "Convorbiri literare" in which Ion Creangă's "Memories from My Boyhood" and the best poems by Mihai Eminescu, the "Morning Star" of Romanian poetry, were published. The reviews "Contemporanul" and "Viata românească" appearead in 1871, respectively in 1906 and had a great contribution to promoting our national cultural values.

Many great personalities of Romanian culture are connected to Iasi: the chronicler Nicolae Milescu, the historian and political man Mihail Kogălniceanu, the poet Vasile Alecsandri (1821-1890), the writer Mihail Sadoveanu, the poet George Topârceanu, the writer Alecu Russo, the writer Ionel Teodoreanu, the literary critic Titu Maiorescu, the geographer Grigore Cobălcescu, the chemist Petru Poni, the historian A.D. Xenopol (1847-1920), the philosopher Vasile Conta (1845-1882), the sociologist Dimitrie Gusti, the geographer Emil Racovită, the philosopher Petru Andrei, the painter Octav Băncilă and many others.

Iasi does not only belong to its inhabitants. It has the rare and hardly acquired privilege of being everyone's. It is not only the metaphisical city of tolls, hills, monuments and undescriptible sunsets, but also the town with the highest density of poets and museums in South-Eastern Europe. Through everything it has, this town stands for some sort of national library, a tiny but expressive part of the European and Universal collection. Immortalized in stamps and paintings, the town flows slowly into the conscience of the world. Thus, the year 1647 finds Bandini comparing it to a "new Rome".

The years of Junimea (cultural society, school of poetry, lectures, journals and modern criticism) have been the most fruitful in the literary history of our nation. There are in Jassy many churches from the XVIth and the XVIIth centuries, among which is the church Trei Ierarhi. In Jassy there is The Culture Palace, with Museums of History, Art, Etnography and Polytechnic, The National Theatre, a Philharmonic Orchestra, the Metropolitan Cathedral.

The first University in the country is Al. I. Cuza University from Iasi (1860). In Iasi, the pupils population is 202,990 persons (25% from the County's population) while students' percentage is 401/10,000 inhabitants (the highest in the country). There are many state and private universities, a branch of Romanian Academy and there are also many libraries and foreign cultural centres, among which there are The French Cultural Centre, The German Cultural Centre, The British Council.

Iasi, "the city of great loves", represents a symbol of Romanian history about which Nicolae lorga rightly said "there should be no Romanian who does not know it".

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