Equestrian statue of Carol I
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The massive statue, cast in bronze, represents Carol I of Romania, the first King of Romania, mounted on his horse. It is a highly representative national monument, since Carol I conquered Romania's independence from the Ottoman Empire for the first time, in 1877 (during the Russo-Turkish War, that is known in Romania as "The Independence War"). He was also the founder of both the Romanian Dynasty and the modern Romanian state.
The statue is located on Calea Victoriei, the oldest and most representative historical boulevard in Bucharest. It stands in Piața Palatului (a square that was renamed "The Revolution Square" after the bloody events of 1989, opposite the Royal Palace of Bucharest and in front of the monumental building of the Library of "Carol I University Foundation".
The old King Carol I statue by Ivan Meštrović
The first equestrian statue of King Carol I in Bucharest was created in 1939 by the Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović. The inauguration was held on Romania's National Day of May 10, 1939. Because the monument stood in a large square opposite the Royal Palace, it witnessed many significant events of the inter-war era and during the Second World War, becoming one of the well-known visual symbols of Bucharest, present on numerous photos, postcards, etc.
After the war, until 1947, Meštrović's statue also witnessed the events during the highly unstable political times of Soviet military occupation, such as the massive anti-communist and pro-monarchist demonstration of November 8th, 1945.
In the night of December 30/31, 1947, the very night after the coup that ousted King Michael I and the Romanian monarchy, the Communist regime installed by the Soviets demolished the statue—an important visual symbol of monarchy—from its pedestal.
In 1948, the communists destroyed the statue, never paying damages to the sculptor.
The new King Carol I statue by Florin Codre
In 2007, 18 years after the Romanian anti-Communist Revolution, the Bucharest City Hall decided to recreate the destroyed statue, a national symbol, and locate it at the original place. A small-scale model of Meštrović's original work was in possession of the sculptor's family, but an agreement was never signed, due to City Hall's inability to meet the financial requirements.
Romanian sculptor Florin Codre was tasked to create a new statue, visually similar to Meštrović's, but not an exact copy.
The inauguration of the new statue took place on December 6, 2010, with HRH Crown Princess Margareta of Romania, heiress of the Romanian Crown an her husband, HRH Prince Radu, assisting. The Mayor of Bucharest, Sorin Oprescu, was present, as well as academicians Constantin Bălăceanu-Stolnici, ex-Presidents Ion Iliescu and Emil Constantinescu and Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu. A message from HM King Michael I of Romania was read on the occasion.
Since then, the statue regained its public significance, both as a tourist sightseeing place in Bucharest and an iconic national symbol of the Romanian Monarchy. Various public events are periodically held in front of it, especially the annual National Day festivity of May 10, that has a triple significance for Romanians: Carol I's first arrival in Bucharest (in 1866), National Independence Day, the official formation of the modern state called "Romania" (in 1877) and Carol I's coronation as "King of Romania" (in 1881).
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