Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova) is a geographic and historical region and former principality in Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester river. An initially independent and later autonomous state, it existed from the 14th century to 1859, when it united with Wallachia as the basis of the modern Romanian state; at various times, the state included the regions of Bessarabia (with the Budjak), all of Bukovina and (under Stephen the Great) Pokuttya. The western part of Moldavia, the largest portion and the core of the former principality, is now part of Romania, while the eastern part belongs to the Republic of Moldova, and small parts in the north and south-east are territories of Ukraine.
When referring to Moldavia as part of Romania it is common to mean the western part of Moldavia. The Republic of Moldavia is now an independent state, former a Soviet Republic, that was lost by Romania to the Soviet Union at the end of WW II.
Geographically, Moldavia is limited by the Carpathian Mountains to the West, the Cheremosh River to the North, the Prut River to the East and the Milcov River to the South.
The region is mostly hilly, with a range of mountains in the west, and plain areas in the southeast. Moldavia’s highest altitude is Ineu peak (2,279m), which is also the westernmost point of the region.
Iași (also referred to as Jassy or Iassy) is one of the largest cities in Romania. Located in the north-east ot the Moldavia region, Iași has traditionally been one of the leading centers 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. Still referred to as The Moldavian Capital, Iași is the seat of Iași County, and the main economic and business centre of the Moldavian region of Romania. As of 2011, Iași itself has a population of 290,422 (the most populous in eastern Romania, and the fourth most populous Romanian city), the metropolitan area is home to 382,484 residents, while the population of the peri-urban area exceeds 500,000 residents. Home to the oldest Romanian university and to the first engineering school. The social and cultural life revolves around the Vasile Alecsandri National Theater (the oldest in Romania), the Moldova State Philharmonic, the Opera House, the Tătărași 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.
Iaşi features historical monuments, 500-year-old churches and monasteries, contemporary architecture, many of them listed on the National Register of Historic Monuments. Notable architecture includes the Trei Ierarhi Monastery, part of the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Site, or the neo-Gothic Palace of Culture, built on the old ruins of the mediaeval Princely Court of Moldavia.
Iași is connected by European routes E583/E85 with Bucharest through a four lane road, by European route E58 with Central Europe and Chişinău in Moldova, and by DN National Roads with all major cities of Romania. A planned East–West freeway should connect the city to the A3 Transylvania Motorway.
Visiting Moldavia on 2 wheels can be quite a experience. The region is one of the poorest of Romania and of the European Union. For the travelling biker, the northern part of Moldavia should be more interesting – because of the hilly landscape, old historical cities and the great traditional food. One of the main entrances to Moldavia from the west is the Bicaz Gorge.
People of Moldavia are extremely friendly towards foreigners, and the road system is good and mostly in great condition, due to extended road renovation undertaken in the last years.
Although there is some lack of touristical infrastructure to be noticed – mainly in the eastern and southern part of Moldavia, a trip through this part of Romania can be fun and exciting.