Culture Palace in Iasi – Palatul Culturii Iași

The Culture Palace in Iasi, Romania
The Culture Palace in Iasi, Romania

Iasi Culture Palace – Visitor Information

Location

The Culture Palace of Iași is located in the city center of Iași, Romania. The address for the palace is: Piata Stefan cel Mare si Sfant nr. 1. The palace is found directly in front of Iasi’s Palas Mall.

Visitation

The palace is open year-round at the bellow schedule.
(Tickets are purchased inside before 4:30pm)

General Admission and Museums:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00am – 5:00pm

Clock Tower Tours (Booked at Information Desk):
Tue-Sun: 10:45am, 11:45am, 12:45pm, 1:45pm, 2:45pm, 3:45pm

Iasi Culture Palace – Summary

The Iaşi Culture Palace (Palatul Culturii) is an early 20th century Neo-Gothic flamboyant, architectural masterpiece, and iconic building located in the city of Iaşi, Romania. The palace is one of the biggest buildings in the entire country, it covers an area of 34,236 m2 (368,510 sq ft). The building contains an astounding 298 rooms and an impressive 128 windows.

A View of Iasi's Culture Palace from the Palace's Garden
A View of Iasi’s Culture Palace from the Palace’s Garden

The Iasi Culture Palace is built on the ruins of the 15th century mediaeval Royal Court of Moldava of 1434, as well as on the ruins of a previous palace that once stood in its place. The building is designated a historical monument of Romania. The palace is located at a main focal point in the city of Iaşi. In fact, the entire city was designed in a way that the main streets would all lead back to the palace.

The Cultural Palace in Iaşi has a rich history. It served different purposes throughout the ages and its existence helped shaped the city into the technical, intellectual, and cultural powerhouse it is today. Aside from its breathtaking architecture, the palace’s main attractions are the four unique, fascinating, and historical museums located within its walls.

Iasi Culture Palace – History

At the site where the Iasi Culture Palace stands today, there once stood a different palace, which underwent two different iterations, before it was demolished and reconstructed. The bad luck the previous palaces endured would go on to serve as a catalyst for the safety designs of today’s palace.

The first palace was constructed in the neoclassical style at the commission of Prince Alexander Mourousis. That palace enjoyed a short life span of only 6 years (1806 – 1812) before it succumbed to a fire and was nearly completely destroyed. In 1843, the remains of the first building were used to reconstruct the palace into its second version. The second palace was constructed to be the Royal Palace for Prince Mihail Sturdza.

Sturdza’s royal palace faced bouts of bad luck similar to its predecessor. The building was plagued by repeated fires. Over time the repeated fires, and lack of renovations, ended up taking a final toll on the palace’s construction and eventually rendered it useless. In 1906, city officials in Iaşi decided to completely demolish the palace and reconstruct a new one in its place.

Historic Image of the Culture Palace when it functioned as Iasi's Administrative Building
Historic Image of the Culture Palace when it functioned as Iasi’s Administrative Building

The newly constructed palace went on to serve many different purposes throughout the years. In 1862, after Wallachia united with Moldavia to form the Principality of Romania and the country’s capital was moved to Bucharest, the palace shifted from being a Royal Palace, to becoming Iaşi’s Administrative palace (Primaria).

Not too long after serving as Iaşi’s city hall, the palace’s role once again changed, this time to becoming the city’s Palace of Justice (County Law Court). in 1955, the palace was finally designated to house the Moldavia National Museum Complex and to function as Iaşi’s cultural palace.

At one point during World War II the Iasi Culture Palace was used as a shelter by German troops who were headed east to invade the Soviet Union. Then, during a later point in the war, it was used by Soviet troops as a shelter while they headed west to invade Germany.

Iasi Culture Palace – Architecture

Front View of Iasi's Cultural Palace
Front View of Iasi’s Cultural Palace

The chief architect for Iaşi’s palace of culture was Ion D. Berindey. Berindey chose to design the palace in the neogothic style, opposed to the previous palace’s neoclassical style, because of the neogothic style’s emphasis on favoring generous openings. He later stated that he wanted “to create a bright building on a light and elastic structure.” Berindey also chose the neogothic style in order to make the cultural palace’s appearance resemble a cathedral.

While designing the culture palace, Berindey put extreme emphasis on implementing measures that would make it as fire resistant as possible. The location’s previous palace was plagued and ravished by an estimated 14 different fires that eventually destroyed the building. Berindey’s fire proofing methods included coating the palace’s attic with a fire-retardant product known as Orniton, and having its roof treated with a fire-resistant chemical known as Eternite.

Construction of the Iasi Culture Palace started in 1906, and took 19 years, before it was finally completed in 1925. The delay in the palace’s finalization was caused by the 1914 breakout of World War I. Development of the palace was put on hold during the war period and only resumed after the war had ended. The palace was inaugurated by King Ferdinand a year after it was finished in 1926.

Palace – Exterior

The Palace of Culture in Iaşi’s main entrance is through a massive castle style tower. The donjon tower contains crenels and alcoves, as well as a massive statue of an open winged eagle. Near the top of the tower there is an eight-bell assembly, carillon clock, which plays the Hora Unirii (Hour of the Union) song every hour on the hour.

Side View of the Cultural Palace's Donjon Tower
Side View of the Cultural Palace’s Donjon Tower

The clock contains 3 faces which are located, on the front, east, and west sections of the tower. The faces are decorated in beautiful stained glass and represent the 12 astrological signs of the year. In the evening, the clock, the tower’s crucifix crenulations, and the building’s facade, are lit up and provide onlookers with an amazing illuminated view of the palace.

The Palace of Culture Evening Lights Illuminating the Structure
The Palace of Culture Evening Lights Illuminating the Structure

Along the corners of the front side of the palace’s roof, as well as in the center of the backside of the building, realistic looking, 4-meter-tall statues of medieval knights, proudly stand guard of the palace.

Knight and Eagle Statues that Guard the Palace of Culture in Iasi
Knight and Eagle Statues that Guard the Palace of Culture in Iasi

The knights are fully equipped with armor and weaponry and look to be ready for war if the occasion were to arise. The statues of the knights are joined on their watch by majestic looking figurines of fierce eagles. The eagles sit perched below to the left and the right of the knights

Palace – Interior

Inside the palace you will find some of the most beautifully designed elements and wonders in all of Romania. The cultural palace’s interior will leave you breathless and in awe. Walking through the palace rooms and observing the treasures within, is akin to feeding your eyes with the tastiest and sweetest of candies.

An Interior View Inside the Cultural Palace in Iasi
An Interior View Inside the Cultural Palace in Iasi

The palace contains immaculate and pristine marble floors that stretch throughout, and encompass, numerous rooms inside the building. The marble beautifully reflects the ambient light, which protrude their surface, from the fantastically crafted chandeliers that effortlessly hang off the palace’s stunningly fashioned ceilings.

Extraordinary Marble Floor and Ambient Chandelier in Iasi's Palace of Culture
Extraordinary Marble Floor and Ambient Chandelier in Iasi’s Palace of Culture

Your artful senses will be overloaded as you take in the masterfully crafted eagle, angel, and human statutes which are spread out throughout the building’s interior. While you journey across the palace’s magnificent staircases, you will feel like you’re ascending and descending through the passages of history.

Picturesque Interior of the Cultural Palace in Iasi
Picturesque Interior of the Cultural Palace in Iasi

The areas of the palace that are nurtured by the light from its beautifully painted stained-glass windows, along with the overall quiet, serenity, and cleanness of the building, provide a peaceful ambiance that is comparable only to that of a place of worship.

Palace – Renovations

Even though the palace has an archaic design, it was constructed with ability to be able to be upgraded with modern technologies and amenities. In fact, throughout the years the palace has underwent considerable changes and upgrades in efforts to modernize it to be suitable to the day’s standards. The palace’s transformation has been a work in progress that has spanned across many decades. Some of the most notable and significant changes the palace has undergone are described below.

The bridging on the palace’s top story was upgraded from wood, to cement reinforced steel netting. Many of the palace’s original, enormous, and extremely heavy stone blocks, were replaced with much lighter, cheaper costing, but still very durable alternative materials. The palace was also equipped with electric lighting, thermostat, (pneumatic) heating, and a modern ventilation system.

A Beautiful Ceiling Inside Iasi's Palace of Culture
A Beautiful Ceiling Inside Iasi’s Palace of Culture

The majority of the rooms inside the Iasi Culture Palace were also renovated with an oak wood imitation material known as Bois Ciment (Bois Cement). Bois Ciment was invented by one of Romania’s most famous and prolific inventors, Henri Coanda (1886 – 1972). The Bois Ciment is almost indistinguishable from real oak wood, it replicates oak’s shape and color nearly perfectly. It even emits the same sound as oak when you walk across its surface.

Coanda licensed his Bois Ciment product to be used throughout the cultural palace. It was chosen as a replacement for oak because of its cheaper cost and highly durable properties. The Bois Ciment flooring is credited for greatly minimizing damage to the palace’s foundation when it was struck by a massive earth-quake in 1977. The earth-quake unfortunately did substantial damage to other parts of the building, including its walls, reliefs, and ornaments.

Iasi Culture Palace – Attractions

The Iaşi Culture Palace contains 4 separate museums which are part of the Moldova National Museum Complex. The museums have many permanent exhibits, as well as area’s where temporary exhibits are often displayed.

Each of the 4 museums also contain their own library. The museums house some of the most unique, fascinating, and historic items in all of Romania.

Aside from the museums, the palace also contains various other stunning rooms, (such as the Voivodes’ Hall and Gothich Room), which also hold very intriguing and mesmerizing items and objects in their own right.

Palace – Museum Complex

Art Museum

Art Museum in the Cultural Palace of Iasi
Art Museum in the Cultural Palace of Iasi

The Art Museum was founded in 1860, is located on the palace’s first floor, and is the oldest of the four museums. It contains over 8,000 pieces of art (many classified as national and universal patrimony) and is considered to have the biggest art collection in all of Romania. The museum also houses 2,500 graphic works, and 470 sculptures.

The museum spans across 24 separate rooms within the palace. The rooms contain permanent exhibitions which are arranged in 3 separate galleries, they are the: Universal Art Gallery, Contemporary Art Gallery, and Romanian Modern Art Gallery.

The Museum of Art contains works from artists such as, Paolo Veronese, Guillaume Coustou, Salvator Rosa, Anthony van Dyck, and Philippe de Champaigne, among the dozens of other masterpieces from famous, and other less-known, artists.

Moldavia’s History Museum

Moldova's History Museum in the Cultural Palace of Iasi
Moldova’s History Museum in the Cultural Palace of Iasi

The Moldavia History Museum, originally the Antiquity Museum, was founded in 1916 and is located on the west side of the palace’s ground floor. The museum is separated into 4 periods of history, Pre/Ancient History, Medieval History, Modern History, and Contemporary History. The different sections cover history dating back from the Paleolithic time up to the World War II era.

The four sections combine to hold over 48,000 historical objects. The objects found within the museum range from things such as decorative art, numismatics, pottery, and antiques, to things like, armory, archeological artifacts, ancient books, and historical documents. One of the museums oldest possessions is a 70,000-year-old woolly mammoth skull that dates back to the Paleolithic Era.

Moldavia’s Museum of Ethnography

Moldova's Museum of Ethnography in the Cultural Palace of Iasi
Moldova’s Museum of Ethnography in the Cultural Palace of Iasi

The Moldavian Museum of Ethnography was founded in 1943 and is located in the west side of the palace in rooms which span across the first and second floor. The museum contains over 13,000 different, items, tools, and objects that were used by the people of Moldova to sustain and advance their livelihoods throughout the ages.

Some of the items found in the museum include things like, agricultural and viticulture tools, livestock rearing apparatuses, apiculture (bee keeping) techniques, and fishing and hunting methods. The museum also has displays of devices and materials that Moldavian peasants used to construct their homes. There are even displays of the interiors of the peasant homes and shelters.

The Ethnography Museum also contains objects that show how the Moldavian people created items which were essential to their survival and culture. Among those objects are such things as old-fashioned mechanisms and tools that were used to create pottery, woven garments, carved wood, masks, and traditional costumes.

Science and Technology Museum

Science and Technology Museum in the Cultural Palace of Iasi
Science and Technology Museum in the Cultural Palace of Iasi

The Science and Technology Museum was founded in 1955 and is located on the East side of the palace on the ground floor. The museum was originally named the “Polytechnical Museum” up until 1994 when it was renamed, the Ștefan Procopiu Science and Technique Museum, after the Iași native and prominent physicist Ștefan Procopiu.

The museum is split into 4 different categories, Energetic, Telecommunication, Mineralogy, and Crystallography. The four sections combine to contain over 8,500 objects. The individual sections showcase different technologies and innovations respective of their category.

The different sections in the Museum of Science contain many inventions which were pioneered in Romania, as well as one’s which were created outside of the country. Among the many items found in the museum, there are recording and playback devices, computers, music boxes, and many other hardware and technologies.

Palace  – Other Attractions

The 4 museums, which make up the Moldova National Museum Complex, are far from being the only highlights contained at the Palace of Culture. The palace contains various other unique and fascinating statues, rooms, objects, and attractions.

Equestrian Statue of Stephen the Great

Imposing Equestrian Statue of Stephen the Great in front of the Palace of Culture in Iasi
Imposing Equestrian Statue of Stephen the Great in front of the Palace of Culture in Iasi

Outside, and directly in front of the palace, there is a massive equestrian (horse riding) statue of Stephen the Great (Ștefan cel Mare). Stephen the Great was Moldova’s most famous prince who defended the region from being conquered by different sects of tribes from, Poland, Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.

Gothic Room

Mosaic in the Gothic Room of the Cultural Palace in Iasi
Mosaic in the Gothic Room of the Cultural Palace in Iasi

The Gothic Room contains an extremely glorious figurative mosaic that intensely depicts bestiarum creatures (ancient beasts) such as, bicephalous (double headed) eagles, dragons, lions, and gryphons. The mosaic is arranged in a concentrically pattern.

Voivodes’ Hall

The Voivodes Hall in Iasi's Cultural Palace Contains Striking Portraits of Past Romanian Rulers
The Voivodes Hall in Iasi’s Cultural Palace Contains Striking Portraits of Past Romanian Rulers

The Voivodes’ Hall is located on the palace’s first floor and is dedicated to past voivodes of Romania. Adorned across the top portions along the rooms walls there are 50, exceptionally superb, paintings of Romania’s most prominent voivodes, rulers, and kings.

Among the paintings and portraits in the prevalent neo-gothic voivodes room, there are also various art pieces that were created by the artist Ştefan Dimitrescu (1886 – 1933). Dimitrescu was one of Romania’s most creative and distinguished Post-impressionist painters.

The hall also contains beautifully crafted ironmongery (architectural hardware) elements. The elements are constructed out of materials such as, iron, steel, brass, aluminum, and various types of plastics. Some of the most splendid and intriguing ironmongery is found on the hall’s wrought iron door.

Henri Coandă Room

Henri Coandă Room in the Cultural Palace of Iasi
Henri Coandă Room in the Cultural Palace of Iasi

The Henri Coandă Room was created as a dedication to Henri Coandă, one of Romania’s most prominent and respected inventors. Coandă was the inventor of the Bois Ciment, oak wood imitation product, that is used throughout various rooms in the cultural palace.

Found inside the Henri Coandă Room are displays of different inventions he created. The room also has displays of information about his life, accomplishments, education, motivations, and history of being one of Romania’s most influential inventors.

Iasi Culture Palace – Present Day

The Cultural Palace of Iași is perhaps the most popular tourist attraction in the entire Moldova Region of Romania. It attracts thousands of tourists yearly from all over the world who come to explore, and bask in the view, of a palace reminiscent of ones only found in fairytales. Its grand size, precise attention to detail, fascinating history, museums, and other attractions within, make it a must visit for anyone who is passing through Romania.

The Backside of the Palatul Culturii din Iasi (Cultural Palace of Iasi)
The Backside of the Palatul Culturii din Iasi (Cultural Palace of Iasi)

Throughout the year the palace hosts various different events and exhibitions. Some of the types of temporary exhibits that are showcased in the palace’s museum include: personal life exhibits of Romania’s most influential people, dedications of significant dates in the country’s history, religious history and importance, and various art displays featuring contemporary and historic art pieces.

Some events that take place at the palace are things like the lighting of Chinese  sky lanterns (Lampions). In June of 2012 the palace hosted a sky lantern event that broke India’s , and set a new world record, of most sky lanterns flown at a single time. Hundreds of locals and tourists from afar gathered at the event and collectively released 12,700 sky lanterns into the air.

World Record Setting Sky Lantern Event that took place at the Palace of Culture in Iasi
World Record Setting Sky Lantern Event that took place at the Palace of Culture in Iasi

Since 2008, the Iasi Culture Palace has been undergoing a large-scale restoration project. The project is considered one of the most complex to ever take place on any building in the country’s history. During the near decade of construction, many portions of the building have been closed off to the public. The temporarily closed off sections are set to be reopened around 2016, when the restoration work is slated to be finished.

Iasi Culture Palace – Video

Iasi Culture Palace – Resources

Official Page
Calander of Events and Exhibitions