Palace of Culture

The Palace of Culture - Front 1

Palace of Culture Info Table

Attraction Name(s)   LocationAttraction TypeVisitation Info
Palace of Culture
Palatul Culturii
Piaţa Ştefan cel Mare şi Sfânt nr. 1, Iasi, RomaniaHistorical Monument
Architecture
Museum
Hours
Phone: +40 232 275 979

History

The Palace of Culture (Palatul Culturii) is an early 20th century flamboyant neo-Gothic, iconic palace, located in the city of Iaşi, Romania. The building is listed as a historical monument and currently serves as the home of four separate museums which collectively are known as the Moldova National Museum Complex. The palace is built on the old ruins of the 15th century mediaeval Royal Court of Moldavia. Prior to the current standing palace, two previous palaces were once erected in its very spot. The first palace was a neoclassical style building commissioned by Prince Alexander Mourousis which lasted from 1806 – 1812 when it succumbed to being ravaged and nearly totally destroyed by a fire.  In 1843 the remains of that first building were used to reconstruct the edifice into a Royal Palace for Prince Mihail Sturdza.

The Palace of Culture - Historic 1

At the end of the 19th century a combination of several other fires that plagued and damaged the building in the years leading up finally rendered it destroyed. In 1906 it was agreed to demolish the old remains and erect a completely new palace in their place. The palace of culture as it stands today took over two decades for its construction to finish (1906 – 1925) due to being interrupted by World War I which broke out in 1914. The palace was finally finished in October 1925 and then inaugurated a year later in 1926 by King Ferdinand of Romania. The chief architect of the palace’s design was Ion D. Berindey, followed by his assistant architects, ADXenopol and Grigore Cerchez.

The Palace of Culture - Historic 2

Architecture and Elements

The palace is one of the biggest buildings in all of Romania, it covers an area of 36,000 m2 (390,000 sq ft) and contains 298 rooms and 128 windows. 92 of the windows are on the front of the building, and the other 36 inside the building. The outside of the building contains many different engraved and carved out heraldic elements. The main entrance into the palace is through a massive donjon tower that contains crenels and alcoves, as well as a massive statue of an open winged eagle. The tower also contains an eight bell assembly, carillon clock, which plays the Hora Unirii (Hour of the Union) song every hour on the hour. The central hall in the palace contains a stunning figurative mosaic that depicts gothic bestiary, concentrically arranged: dragons, two-headed eagles, lions, and griffons. Outside and directly in front of the palace there is an imposing equestrian statue of Stephen the Great (1433 – 1504), Moldova’s most famous prince who defended the region from being conquered by, Poland, Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.

The Palace of Culture - Stephen the Great 3

Even though the palace has an archaic design, much effort was put into allowing it the flexibility and option of being upgraded with modern technologies and amenities. Part of the changes to modernize the building included replacing many of the original enormous, and very heavy, stone blocks with much lighter and cheaper material. Many of the rooms inside the palace were also renovated with an oak wood imitation material known as bois-ciment which was licensed from, and invented by, Romania native and world renowned inventor, Henri Coanda (1886 – 1972). Between 1975 and 1977 the wood bridging on the last story was modernized and upgraded with a cement one that contains steel nettings. The new cement floor is credited to sustaining and greatly minimizing damage to the floor during a great earth quake that struck in 1977. That earth quake did substantial damage to other parts of the building including its walls, reliefs, and other ornaments. The palace was also equipped with electric lighting, thermostat, (pneumatic) heating, and a modern ventilation system.

The Palace of Culture - Inside 1

Past and Present

Before it primarily became a Museum Complex in 1955 the Palace of Culture served different functions and uses. It was initially created to serve as a royal palace, first for Prince Alexander Mourousis, and later for Prince Mihail Sturdza. In 1859 after the Moldova region unionized and became a part of Romania, the countries capital was moved to Bucharest and the building was changed from being a Royal Palace, into being an Administrative palace, and then sometime later into a Palace of Justice (County Law Court). At one point during World War II the palace was used as a shelter by German troops who were headed east to invade the Soviet Union, and then at a later point during the war it was used by Soviet troops as a shelter while they headed west to invade Germany.

The Palace of Culture - Aerial 1

The Moldova National Museum Complex

Art Museum.

The Art Museum is located on the first floor of the palace and was founded in 1860. It boasts the largest art collection in all of Romania with a staggering 8,000 paintings, of which 1,000 are owned by the national and universal patrimony. The museum also houses 2500 graphic works, and 470 sculptures. The museum contains the oldest pinacoteque in Romania that existed along with the country’s first modern university of 1860. The museum of art encompasses 24 rooms which comprise permanent exhibitions that are arranged in 3 separate galleries, the Universal Art Gallery, the Contemporary Art Gallery, and the Romanian Modern Art Gallery. Some of the many renowned artist’s whose works are on display at the museum are, Paolo Veronese, Guillaume Coustou, Salvator Rosa, Anthony van Dyck, and  Philippe de Champaigne.

The Palace of Culture - Art Museum 1

Moldavia’s History Museum

The Moldavia History Museum is located on the palace’s ground floor and was founded in 1916 as a continuation of the Antiquity Museum that was initiated by Orest Tafrali. It contains four different sections that cater to different times in history, Pre/Ancient History, Medieval History, Modern History, and Contemporary History. The different sections cover history dating from the Paleolithic time up to the World War II era. Combined, the four section hold over 35,000 objects that range from, decorative art, numismatics, pottery, armory, archeological artifacts, to ancient books and documents. One of the museums oldest possessions is a 70,000-year-old woolly mammoth skull that dates back to the Paleolithic Era.

The Palace of Culture - Moldavias History Museum 2

Moldavia’s Museum of Ethnography

The Moldavian Museum of Ethnography was founded in 1943 and is located on the West side of the Palace. It occupies space on the first and second floor. The museum contains over 11,000 different, items, tools, and objects that were used by the people of Moldova to sustain and advance their livelihoods throughout the ages. The items include, agricultural and viticulture tools and techniques, livestock rearing apparatuses and methods, and fishing and hunting weapons and devices. Also found in this museum are objects that show how the Moldavian people created many of the objects which were essential to their survival and culture. These items include old-fashioned mechanisms that were used to create pottery, woven garments, carved wood, masks, and traditional costumes.

The Palace of Culture - Moldavias Museum of Ethnography 1

Science and Technology Museum

The Science and Technology Museum was founded 1955 and is located on the East side of the palace on the ground floor. The museum originally bore the name “Polytechnical Museum” but in 1994 was renamed as the, Ștefan Procopiu Science and Technique Museum, after Iași native and prominent physicist Ștefan Procopiu. The museum is split into 4 different sections, the Energetic, the Telecommunication, the Mineralogy, and the Crystallography. The sections contain different technologies that were pioneered in Romania, including sound recording and playback technologies, as well as computer and hardware technologies.

The Palace of Culture - Science and Technology Museum 1

Other Palace Rooms

Besides the four museums, the palace also contains rooms which are unique and hold attractions of their own. There is a Gothic room that contains a magnificent mosaic which intensely depicts bestiarum creatures such as, bicephalous eagles, lions, and gryphons. On the first floor there is a Voivodes’ Room which contains splendid paintings, including striking portraits of past Moldovan rulers and Romanain kings, as well as art by Romanian native, and exceptionally talented, artist Ştefan Dimitrescu. There is a room called the Henri Coandă room which is dedicated to and contains inventions created by one of Romania’s most prominent inventors Henri Coandă. The northeast wing of the palace contains the Gheorghe Asachi County Library which was founded in 1920. The palace also contains the “Watch Tower” (Turnul de Straja) which is laid out in the fashion of the Royal Court of Iasi.

The Palace of Culture - Inside 2

Resources

Official Site
Facebook Page
Virtual Tour
Wikipedia Article
Art Museum
Moldavia’s History Museum
Moldavia’s Museum of Ethnography
Science and Technology Museum

 

The Palace of Culture Image Gallery

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