Romania – Vaslui County – Bârlad
Bârlad [bɨrˈlad] is a town, located in Vaslui county, eastern Romania. It lies on the banks of the Bârlad River, which waters the high plains of Moldavia.
In the vicinity of the modern town are ruins of a Roman camp. The town served as the residence of the princes of Moldavia in the 14th century, and ruins from that period remain popular tourist attractions. The Royal Church, first erected during the reign of Basil, has been rebuilt and restored numerous times since the 17th century. Bârlad is also the site of the Vasile Pârvan Museum. Named for Romanian archaeologist Vasile Pârvan, it houses an eclectic collection that ranges from Romanian folk art to exhibits on the town’s famous citizens. The city is the birthplace of Romanian Domnitor (Ruler) and diplomat Alexandru Ioan Cuza.
The economy of the modern town is based on light industry, notably textiles. Pop. (2010 est.) 69,049. At Bârlad the railway from Iași diverges, one branch skirting the river Siret, the other skirting the Prut; both reunite at Galați. Along with a maze of narrow and winding streets, Bârlad features several notable modern buildings, including the hospital administered by the Saint Spiridion Foundation of Iași.
Scholars continue to debate the origin of the city’s name. The Hypatian Codex mentions a market town called Berlad, and some historians, influenced by a document Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu published in the 19th century, have tried to link this town and its inhabitants (variously considered Romanians, East Slavs or an amalgam) with the Moldavian Bârlad. Ioan Bogdandemonstrated that the Hasdeu document was false, thus invalidating the hypothesis. Like Siret and Suceava, the medieval town took its name from the adjacent river, but nothing more can be said for certain. Constantin Cihodaru linked the name, of possible Hungarian origin, to a Slavic word (berlo — “rod”, “cottage” or birlo — “swamp”), to which was added the Hungarian suffix -d, also found, for example, in the names Cenad, Arad, Tușnad and Tășnad. Supporting this notion is the historic presence of a significant Hungarian community, with traditions recalling the fight against the Tatars in the mid-14th century.
During World War II, Bârlad was captured on 24 August 1944 by Soviet troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front in the course of the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive.