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Judicial reforms and their implications in
Central and Eastern Europe


October 25 – 26, 2012, Iasi, Romania




About Iasi

Iaşi (Romanian pronunciation: [jaʃʲ]; also historically referred to as Jassy or Iassy) is one of the largest cities and a municipality in Romania. Located in the historical Moldavia region, Iași has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Romanian social, cultural, academic and artistic life. The city was the capital of the Principality of Moldavia from 1564 to 1859, then of the United Principalities from 1859 to 1862, and the capital of Romania from 1916 to 1918. 


Known as The Cultural Capital of Romania, Iaşi is a symbol in Romanian history. The historian Nicolae Iorga said "There should be no Romanian who does not know of it". Still referred to as The Moldavian Capital, Iaşi is the seat of Iaşi County and the main economic centre of the Romanian region of Moldavia . As of 2011, Iaşi itself has a population of 263,410 (the fourth most populous Romanian city), the metropolitan area is home to about 350,000 residents, while the population of the peri-urban area exceeds 500,000 residents. Home to the first Romanian university and to the first engineering school, it is the second largest university centre in the country and accommodates over 75,000 students in 5 public and 7 private universities The social and cultural life revolves around the Vasile Alecsandri National Theater (the oldest in Romania), the Moldova State Philharmonic, the Opera House, the Tătăraşi Athenaeum, a famous Botanical Garden (the oldest and largest in Romania), the Central University Library (the oldest in Romania), the high quality cultural centres and festivals, an array of museums, memorial houses, religious and historical monuments.

Located in the North-East of Romania, between the Iaşi Ridge (Romanian: Coasta Iaşilor) (the northern-most hill formation of the Bârlad Plateau) and the Jijia Plain, Iaşi used to be the crossroads place of the commercial routes that passed through Moldavia coming from Kingdom of Poland, Habsburg Monarchy, Tsardom of Russia and Constantinople. The city lies on the Bahlui River, a tributary of the Jijia (tributary of the Prut). The surrounding country is one of uplands and woods, featuring the monasteries of Bârnova, Bucium, Cetăţuia, Frumoasa, Galata (with nearby Nicolina mineral springs), Hlincea, and the dendrologic park of Repedea. Iaşi itself stands amid vineyards and gardens, partly on hills, partly in the in-between valley. It is a common belief that Iaşi is built on seven hills (coline in Romanian): Cetăţuia, Galata, Copou-Aurora, Bucium-Păun, Şorogari, Repedea and Breazu, thus triggering comparisons with Rome. Archaeological investigations attest the presence of human communities on the present territory of the city and around it as far back as the prehistoric age. Later settlements included those of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, a late Neolithic archaeological culture. 

The name of the city is first officially mentioned in a document about commercial privilege granted by the Moldavian Prince (Voivode) Alexandru cel Bun to the Polish merchants of Lvov in 1408. However, as buildings older than 1408 existed and still exist (for example the Armenian Church originally believed to be built in 1395), it is believed that the city existed long before its first mentioning. 

Around 1564, Prince Alexandru Lăpuşneanu moved the Moldavian capital from Suceava to Iaşi. Between 1561 and 1563, a school and a Lutheran church were founded by the Greek adventurer Prince, Ioan Iacob Heraclid. In 1640, Vasile Lupu established the first school in which the mother-tongue replaced Greek, and set up a printing press in the Byzantine Trei Ierarhi Church (Church of the Three Hierarchs; built 1635–39). In 1643, the first volume ever printed in Moldavia was issued in Iaşi. 

The city was burned down by the Tatars in 1513, by the Ottomans in 1538, and by Imperial Russian troops in 1686. In 1734, it was hit by the plague. 

Through the Peace of Iaşi, the sixth Russo-Turkish War was brought to a close in 1792. A Greek revolutionary maneuver and occupation under Alexander Ypsilanti (Αλέξανδρος Υψηλάντης) and the Filiki Eteria (Φιλική Εταιρία) (1821, at the beginning of the Greek War of Independence) led to the storming of the city by the Turks in 1822. In 1844 there was a severe conflagration. Between 1564 and 1859, the city was the capital of Moldavia ; then, between 1859 and 1862, both Iaşi and Bucharest were de-facto capitals of the United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia . In 1862, when the union of the two principalities was recognized under the name of Romania , the national capital was established in Bucharest . 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 lei to be paid in ten annual instalments, but no payment was ever made. During World War I, Iaşi was the capital of a severely reduced Romania for two years, following the Central Powers' occupation of Bucharest on 6 December 1916. The capital was returned to Bucharest after the defeat of Imperial Germany and its allies in November 1918. In November–December 1918 Iaşi hosted the Jassy Conference. During the war, while the full scale of the Holocaust remained generally unknown to the Allied Powers, the Iaşi pogrom stood as one of the known examples of Axis brutality toward the Jews. The pogrom lasted from 29 June to 6 July 1941, and over 13,266 people, or one third of the Jewish population, were massacred in the pogrom itself or in its aftermath, and many were deported. 

In May 1944, the Iaşi area became the scene of ferocious fighting between Romanian-German forces and the advancing Soviet Red Army and the city was partially destroyed. The German Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland won a defensive victory at the Battle of Târgul Frumos, near Iaşi, which was the object of several NATO studies during the Cold War. By 20 August, Iaşi had been taken by Soviet forces.  


Iaşi has a diverse array of public spaces, from city squares to public parks. Begun in 1833, at the time when Iaşi was the capital of Moldavia, by Prince Mihail Sturdza and under the plans of Gheorghe Asachi and Mihail Singurov, Copou Park was integrated into the city and marks one of the first Romanian coordinated public parks. The oldest monument in Romania stands in the middle of the park, the Obelisk of Lions (1834), a 13.5 m (44.29 ft) tall obelisk, dedicated to the Law of Organic Rules, the first law on political, administrative and juridical organization in Romanian Principalities. Founded in 1856, the Botanical Garden of Iaşi, the first botanical garden in Romania, has an area of over 100 hectares, and more than 10,000 species of plants. Iaşi Exhibition Park was opened in 1923 and built under the coordination of the architect N. Ghica Budeşti. The Ciric Park, located in the north-eastern part of Iaşi is another complex which consists into the park and four lakes.

Cultural life

Major events in the political and cultural history of Moldavia are connected with the name of the city of Iaşi. The great scholars of the 17th century Grigore Ureche, Miron Costin and later Ion Neculce, wrote most of their works in the city or not far from it and the famous scholar Dimitrie Cantemir known throughout all Europe also linked his name to the capital of Moldavia. The first newspaper in Romanian language was published in 1829 in Iaşi and it is in Iaşi where, in 1867, appeared under literary society Junimea, the Convorbiri literare review in which Ion Creangă’s Childhood Memories and the best poems by Mihai Eminescu were published. The reviews Contemporanul and Viaţa Românească appeared in 1871, respectively in 1906 with great contributions to promoting Romanian national cultural values. Many great personalities of Romanian culture are connected to Iaşi: the chronicler Nicolae Milescu, the historians and politics men Mihail Kogălniceanu or Simion Bărnuțiu, the poets Vasile Alecsandri or George Topârceanu, the writers Mihail Sadoveanu, Alecu Russo, or Ionel Teodoreanu, the literary critic Titu Maiorescu, the historian A.D. Xenopol, the philosophers Vasile Conta or Petre Andrei, the sociologist Dimitrie Gusti, the geographer Emil Racoviţă, the painter Octav Băncilă, only to name a few.

Economic life 

Iaşi is an important economic centre in Romania . The local and regional economy relies on service sector institutions and establishments. The most important sectors are related to education, health care, banking, research, culture, government and tourism. The city is an important information technology sector centre, with the presence of several international companies, such as, Continental VDO, Embarcadero Technologies, Comodo Group, Bentley Systems, SCC, Capgemini or Pentalog, as well as two universities which offer specific degree programs. 

Iaşi is active in manufacturing sector too, particularly in automotive, pharmaceutical industry, metallurgical production, textiles and clothing, constructions, wine, preserved meat. With large shopping malls and commercial centres located in the area, Iaşi also has a well-developed retail business.


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