A friendly handshake and a large smile set the tone for a new adventure, breaking the cloudy weather and the rainy mood with the positive vibration of optimism. I have O. by my side, a genuine tourist and a charming French woman with an overflowing refinement, in front of who any gloomy hint on my face dodges, clearly affected by the early waking in the morning, in combination with the gray tones of the weather. It was not the first city break in Iasi, but this time it was fair to call it my first “séjour en ville”. I started walking with shriveled steps, and with my hands clutching the umbrella, alongside cheerful O. She seemed to carry a bit of the French sun. Her attitude reminded me of a famous slogan: “London. Rain. Strong wind. Hairstyle lasts.”Only that in this context, what was lasting was the enthusiasm in our historical Iasi.
Here we are, again in Iasi, sprinkling steps on historical streets that take us into the heart of culture. There’s a saying according to which all roads lead to Rome, but in the capital of Moldova somehow all roads lead to the Palace. Especially now, that everyone has heard about the reopening. Lured by the treasure locked until recently, we rushed in like the brave hero rushes into the cave when the seven-headed monster goes for a walk. But instead of “one chest” we have encountered many more, one more beautiful than the other. But let me take each at a time…
On top of the list of museums within the Palace of Culture was “Stefan Procopiu” Museum of Science and Technology. Or in other words sort of a “knock-knock, who’s there”, because we expected one thing and we found something totally different. Although the first section of the museum was the energy department, founded in 1961, instead of being presented the main forms of energy that were used, we entered the world of music. Currently arranged for the renovation project of the Palace of Culture, what greets us at the entrance of the museum is the department of recording sounds and playback, opened in February 1966. It includes a song performance, featuring the chronological evolution of sounds recording and playback. All the instruments it includes delight the eye and capture the viewer’s full attention, even without being put into action. When they`re turned on to do a demonstration, these musical hybrids became real beings that move gracefully and “voice” in hypnotic rhythms.
Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi is the oldest public university in Romania and one of the advanced research and education institutions in the country. It was founded a year after the establishment of the Romanian state, by a decree given in 1860 by Alexandru Ioan Cuza, under whom the former Academia Mihăileană was converted into a university. Known at first as the University of Iasi, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University became the first student-centered university in Romania, once the Bologna Process was implemented.
It is a cold Thursday evening, embraced by the welcoming warmth of “Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre, which seems derived from a painting and placed near the “Stefan cel Mare” (Stephan the Great), a street for pedestrians which is also decorated with lots of little, colorful lights. Such an evening we have spent, along with other people who were holding their breath for one of the great theatre representations of “The Visit”, by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, a Swiss writer who has brought to the fore in his literary work the problematic of justice and endurance.
A merry smile welcomed us at the entrance! It was the bright face of the lady who was in charge with checking our tickets. I was rejoicing over the beauty that slowly surrounded me, taking me away from reality. A few minutes after, we were all sitting impatiently, awaiting the show to begin.
Men have built themselves societies, developing on every aspect of life. After centuries of continuous evolution, we have come to improve our settlements by equipping cities with all forms of comfort. Today we can easily have access to both work and entertainment sources. An example worth to be mentioned is a symbol for good taste and culture: the philharmonic.
The city of Iasi, which is the cultural capital of Romania’s region, Moldavia, concentrates a full package of elements that represent art in all its forms. Among valuable examples such as the Romanian National Theatre or the Romanian National Opera, Moldova State Philharmonic comes to complete a long number of important entertainment sources that the inhabitants of Iasi are right to take pride in. This institution with permanent artistic activity emerged in 1918, wearing the name of the illustrious Romanian musician, George Enescu. Its inaugural concert took place on the 9th of October, 1942, and it had as first director Radu Constantinescu. During its first decade, the symphonic orchestra of Iasi has built its rich repertoire as a basis of its future personal interpretative style. 1953 is another year that marks an important moment in the Philharmonic’s evolution, being the time when the choir was created. Is wears the name of the great Romanian composer and bandmaster Gavriil Musicescu, and it made possible the interpretation of famous works of Mozart, Haydn, and Carl Orff, which were performed in the city of Iasi for the first time due to this talented group.
Deeply anchored in history, terrestrial stars shine, lighting the Earth with cultural beauty. Each one of them wears a cape imprinted with stories, caressing both the eye and the soul of the passenger. On Romanian ground lie countless treasures, forming a magical web that unites the country’s territory under the mark of cultural richness. Touched by a legendary destiny, somewhere in the north-east “lives” a pillar of architectural beauty, which was born to die and rise again from its ashes like a Phoenix, returning stronger and everlasting. The “father” of Romanian Theatre has its home in Moldavia’s cultural capital, the city of Iași. “Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre of Iasi is the first national theatre that has ever emerged on Romanian ground, remaining one of the most prestigious institutions in the country. Ever since 1956 its value has been emphasised by being named after an important Romanian figure – the renowned playwright and poet, Vasile Alecsandri.
Although Iasi was first touched by this kind of art in 1816, when one of the first theatrical performances in Romanian language was held with the help of Gheorghe Asachi, it is only in 1832 when an actual building was constructed, and the stage was now sheltered by the Théâtre de varieté, especially created for the French Fouraux troupe. This became a national asset 8 years later, when on the 15th of May 1840 the French troupe merged with the Romanian language troupe, being united under the direction of Vasile Alecsandri, Costache Negruzzi and Mihail Kogălniceanu, and managed by Costache Caragiali. On the 22nd of December 1846 the whole activity was moved into a pretentious setting, when a new audience hall was inaugurated in the former mansion of Prince Mihail Sturdza, on the Hill of Copou.
A dark event in history is marked by a devastating fire which destroyed the Theatre from Copou on the night of 17/18 February 1888. What apparently seemed to be a disaster led the way to a fundamental act of culture. The identity of the Romanians was consolidated by an everlasting work of art, which wears the fingerprints of the Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer, who left their signature on important European constructions in Vienne, Prague, Odessa, Zürich, and on other Romanian constructions in Cluj-Napoca,Oradea, Timișoara and Chernivtsi. In 1984 they signed a contract and committed to help build what is nowadays known as the edifice of “Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre of Iasi, which also hosts the Romanian National Opera. This brought along with it the beginning of electrification in the city of Iasi, for a whole power station was built back then by a company from Berlin to supply with electricity the 12 electric-arc lamps lighting the Theatre Square. The work process lasted 2 years, and ever since the 1st of December 1896 everyone can admire one of the most elegant buildings in Romania, which displays a Neoclassic exterior and a richly decorated interior in Rococo and Baroque styles, including precious elements created by praised artists: the curtain painted by the Viennese M. Lenz, presenting allegory of life with its three stages and the allegory of Romanian Unification, the iron curtain were painted by Alexander Goltz, and the ceiling which has as a narrative basis the Archetypal Story shown in paradisiacal allegories, or the 1418 electric lights and the chandelier with 109 Venetian crystal lamps. All these render a unique architectural personality, crowning the work of the Romanian troupe performing nowadays, which is formed of 36 actors, 2 directors, 2 script writer and various collaborators, under the direction of the director Cristian-Valeriu Hadji-Culea.
“Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre of Iasi remains a bright pearl on the crown of culture, belonging to Romania and to the entire world. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Monuments, being a symbol of art that carries infinite meaning!
It banishes me away from the present an obscure yearning which fills my soul with confusing emotions. I long for a feeling that lives outside my body. It is not born within me; it penetrates from the exterior, for it is unknown and known, same as my ancestors. I know it is. And I feel it mine, but strange to me. As if I were within it, but it not within myself. And gazing around I breath ancient air, and I feel the past shrouding me. It is a ghost buried underneath the mists of time, and it resurrects long gone centuries, bringing them to the new days which rise in the present. Under layers of gathered burdens lies the castle. It lies on the sacred land of Miclauseni, its walls being touched by heavy years that have passed by.
General geographical aspects
Romania is situated in the South-East of Central Europe, north from the Balkan Peninsula, in the Lower Danube Basin. It borders Hungary at North-West, at East it borders Ukraine, The Moldavian Republic, and the Black Sea, at South Bulgaria, at South and South-West Serbia, and at North again Ukraine.
Romania’s surface is of 238.391 km2, placing itself on the 12th position in Europe.
The geological age is the same with that of the continent, approximating 550 millions of years.
Landform: mountainous area 31%, hills and uplands 33%, plains 36%.
Rivers basins: The Danube river in the South of the country, with a length of 1.075 km (from the total of 2.850 km from the source to its mouth; it flows into the Black Sea)
Rivers: Mureş, Olt, Prut, Siret, Ialomiţa, Someş, Argeş, Jiu, Râul Buzău, Râul Bistriţa.
Lakes: Approximately 2.300 lakes (2.650 km2). The most known are: Razelm (415 km2), Sinoe 171 km2), Brateş (21 km2), Tasăul (20 km2), Techirghiol (12 km2), Snagov (5,8 km2).
The climate is temperate-continental, with western oceanic influence, Mediterranean in the South-West, excessively continental in the North-East. The average annual temperature is of approximately 8 °C in the North of the country, and of 11 °C in the South. The average level of precipitations does not exceed 700 mm per year.
Population. According to the 20th of October 2011 census, the stable population of Romania was of 20.121.641 people.