Iasi, in northeastern Romania, is the city of great ideals, of the first union of the Romanian Principalities
Iasi, in northeastern Romania, is the city of great ideals, of the first union of the Romanian Principalities, of the first theatre show in Romania, of the first memorial literary museum, in the home of the great 19th Century prose writer Ion Creanga, and of the first Natural History Museum. As of last year, Iasi has had a new cultural experience to offer. Reading fans can now choose a tram- library, a mobile library arranged by several volunteers in a public transport means. Adrian Mihai, spokesman for the Iasi local public transport company, tells us the story of this initiative:
“On December 4, 2015, two originally separate projects were brought together through the Iasi public transport company: the literature tram, on which portraits of various local literature personalities have been painted at the initiative of Tramclub Iasi Association, also became the carrier of a small library, as part of a project called ‘The Book on the Seat’, initiated by Mr. Eugen Benea. The message sent to tram passengers is, ‘If you read, you give! Leave a book on the seat!’ The goal of the project is to encourage reading and the exchange of books through this mobile library. Iasi has always been a city of culture, has always created that special atmosphere that stimulates creativity, and major writers are tied to this city. So we invite the locals of Iasi to rediscover the pleasure of reading a book.”
Adrian Mihai, spokesman for the Iasi public transport company, also told us how the project developed:
“Apart from the books donated by Mr. Bernea, as part of his project, we received donations from the people in town who embraced this idea. Naturally, in time, the library has grown, so we can only hope this is just the beginning. The library- trams do not have a pre-set route, so if you want to find these two tramcars carrying free books you will have to call our dispatch centre.”
We also asked Adrian Mihai how the people of Iasi received this idea, and whether they intend to extend the project:
“The idea was received quite warmly, particularly considering that we have a lot of students in Iasi who use the public transport means. So at least during their daily trips around town, many of the passengers will take up a book and leaf through. We would be glad to be able to extend the project and have more tramcars included, and we would also love to put together other, equally interesting projects, together with our partners in the Tramclub Iasi Association.”
The city of Iasi has the oldest university in Romania, the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University. The school was founded through a decree by prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza back in 1860. Its main building, which is an architectural gem was erected in 1896. The city also boasts the refurbished version of the first school of engineering, the Gh. Asachi Technical University, whose library was last year mentioned among the world’s most beautiful ten libraries in the world, together with prestigious competitors, such as the Trinity College Library in Dublin, the Royal Portuguese Library in Rio de Janeiro, the Admont Monastery built in late baroque style, the National Library in Prague, the National Library in France or the Washington-based Congress Library.
This university palace also includes a very interesting hall, dubbed ”the hall of the fading steps” which has frescoes by famous Romanian painter Sabin Balasa and a very beautiful aula built in the eclectic style. The first higher music school, ”The George Enescu Art University was also built in Iasi and so was the Grigore Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy, the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine and the Petre Andrei University. The Royal Cultural Foundation, which was founded in the inter-war period, boasts a huge library with nearly 3 million books, some of them very rare. And because the city of Iasi has an outstanding cultural tradition, the local transport company has introduced a streetcar that can take passengers on a tour about the city to places of great interest once frequented by leading figures of the Romanian culture.
Here is Adrian Mihai with details:
”We have a refurbished vintage streetcar, which is very popular with the people visiting our city. They rent it for a trip down the Copou boulevard to places reminiscent of great names of Romanian culture like poet Eminescu and writer Ion Creanga.”
But besides this vintage streetcar that takes people back in time, so to say, the city of Iasi offers a lot of other tourist attractions.