Palace of Culture (Iași)
|Palace of Culture
Palace of Culture - panorama
|Town or city||Iaşi|
|Client||City of Iași|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Ion D. Berindei|
The Palace of Culture (Romanian: Palatul Culturii) is an edifice located in Iaşi, Romania. The building served as Administrative Palace and then Palace of Justice until 1955, when its destination was changed again, being assigned to the four museums nowadays united under the name of Moldavia National Museum Complex. Also, the building houses the Cultural Heritage Conservation-Restoration Centre, the main branch of the Gheorghe Asachi Iași County Library and hosts various exhibitions and other events.
The construction, started in 1906, was partly built on the old ruins of the mediaeval Royal Court of Moldavia (1434), and partly on top of the foundations of the former neoclassical style palace, dated to the time of Prince Alexandru Moruzi (1806), rebuilt by Prince Mihail Sturdza and dismantled in 1904. It was from this latter building that the Palace inherited the legend of the 365 rooms, as many as the days within one year.
The Romanian architect I.D. Berindei was assigned to plan the building and he designed it in flamboyant neo-Gothic style. During World War I, the construction halted due to the limitation of resources. The monument was completed on 11 October 1925, an inaugurated, one year later, in 1926, by King Ferdinand I of Romania, the second king of modern Romania.
During World War II, the Palace sheltered German troops, and then Soviet troops.
Until 1955, the building housed the County Law Court, which had the furniture ordered from “Maple House” in London.
Between 1975 and 1977 the wood bridging from the last floor was replaced with a cement one, fixed with steel netting. The new bridging sustained the monument during the earthquake of 1977, but the bridging from the first floor, the walls, the ornaments and the relief works were affected. Unfortunately, the consolidation and renovation works are not finished yet.
The Palace has 298 large rooms with a total area of over 36,000 m2 (390,000 sq ft), 92 windows in the front part of the building and another 36 inside the building.
Decoratively, the central hall shows a figurative mosaic including various representations of a gothic bestiary, concentrically arranged: two-headed eagles, dragons, griffons, lions. The hall is superposed by a glass ceiling room, where initially a greenhouse was arranged.
In spite of its archaic-looking design, the Palace was designed so to integrate modern materials and technologies. Thus, the stone blocks were replaced with light and much cheaper materials. Besides, some rooms were decorated using a special material licensed by Henri Coandă, under the name of bois-ciment and imitating the oak wood. Decorative ironmongery elements are also remarkable and they can be admired for instance on the doors of the Voivodes’ Hall. The building was also equipped with high-tech facilities for those times, such as electric lighting, (pneumatic) heating, ventilation system, thermostat, vacuum cleaners, which were all directed from the machinery room, at the underground level. Taking also into account the 14 fires that affected the previous buildings, Berindei (the main architect) treated the wooden structure of the attic with an ignifugeous product called orniton, while for the roof he used a special material, named eternite.
The entrance of the palace is through a great donjon tower, with crenels and alcoves dominated by an eagle with open wings. The tower is the central architectural piece of the palace. On each of the three exposed sides there is a face of the clock with a diameter of 3,25m. The clock faces are decorated with stained glass representing the 12 astrological signs. Two young men dressed in national costumes, are painted on the sides of the clock faces guarding the clock (design element inspired from the Peles Castle). The stained glass windows and the cross shaped crenelations were electrically illuminated during the night. The Carillon in the tower has 8 bells that are singing each hour the Union Hora song with the help of a drum with 69 pins.
Moldova National Museum Complex
The "Moldova" National Museum Complex hosts four museums located in the Palace of Culture: Art Museum, Moldavia's History Museum, Ethnographic Museum of Moldavia, and "Ștefan Procopiu" Science and Technique Museum. The Museums also comprise their own stores and libraries, as well as halls for temporary exhibitions.
The Art Museum, founded in 1860, is the oldest and has the largest art collection in Romania, with more than 8,700 works, out of which 1,000 belong to the national and universal patrimony. The gallery contains works by artists such as Caravaggio, Paolo Veronese, Pietro Liberi, Carlo Dolci, Salvator Rosa, Francesco Solimena, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Anthony van Dyck, Jan Both, Bartholomeus van der Helst, Egbert van Heemskerk II, Nicolas Poussin, Philippe de Champaigne, Eustache Le Sueur, Guillaume Coustou, François Boucher, and many others.
The Museum of Art located inside the palace on the first floor has 24 rooms for permanent exhibitions, arranged in three galleries (Universal Art Gallery, Romanian Modern Art Gallery and Contemporary Art Gallery).
Moldavia's History Museum
The Moldavia's History Museum was founded in 1916 and offers more than 48,000 objects from various fields: archaeology, numismatics, decorative art, ancient books, documents, etc. One of the oldest items, a 70,000-year-old mammoth skull, is from the Middle Palaeolithic Era. Among other items of significance are pottery from the Cucuteni culture, Dacian, Sarmatian, Gothic, and Roman artifacts, and armory and other items of the Middle Ages. The History Museum is located inside the palace on the ground floor, in the West side, being the continue of the Antiquity Museum founded by Orest Tafrali in 1916. It has four sections, prehistory and ancient history, medieval history, modern history and contemporary history, presenting the main aspects of the development of the communities in the area from the Paleolithic time to the World War II.
The "Union Museum" and "Mihail Kogălniceanu Memorial Museum", in Iași, "Al. I. Cuza Memorial Palace" in Ruginoasa, and the "Archaeological Reserve of Cucuteni", are also coordinated by the Moldavia's History Museum.
Ethnographic Museum of Moldavia
The Ethnographic Museum of Moldavia, founded in 1943, owns more than 13,000 objects depicting the Romanian advance through the ages. The Moldavian Museum of Ethnography is located in the West side of the Palace, at the first and the second floor. One can admire here the objects used by the inhabitants of Moldavia in their every day activities: in agriculture, viticulture, raising animals, fishing, hunting, apiculture. One can also see interiors of peasant houses, devices used for pottery, weaving, wood processing, mask collections, traditional costumes. Many of these exhibits have more than 100 years old.
The museum, also, coordinates the Wine and Vineyard Museum in Hârlău.
Science and Technology Museum
The "Ștefan Procopiu" Science and Technique Museum, with a collection of more than 8,500 objects, was founded in 1955 as the "Polytechnical Museum" and renamed, in 1994, after the physicist Ștefan Procopiu. It is home to Energetics, Sound Recording and Playback (unique within Romania), Telecommunications, Mineralogy - Cristalography, and Computers sections.
Besides the four museums, The Palace of Culture presents some other attraction points. One of them is the Gothic Room, where can be admired the mosaic that presents a medieval “bestiarum” (gryphons, bicephalous eagles, lions). There is also the Voivodes' Room, located at first floor, where there are the portraits of Moldavia’s rulers and Romania’s kings, starting with Decebalus and Trajan, paintings made by Ştefan Dimitrescu and his students. Then there is „Henri Coandă” Room, which was named after the carvings and relief works made by the famous Romanian inventor of a cement invented by him. On the right there is the “Turnul de Strajă” (the Watch Tower), reminiscence of the Royal Court of Iaşi, along with the galleries underneath the court of the palace. On the left there is a collection of capitals and other stone architectonic elements grouped in a lapidarium. The hall is superposed by a glass ceiling room, where initially a greenhouse was arranged. In front of the palace there is the equestrian statue of Stephen the Great, framed by two Krupp cannons, trophies from the Independence War.
Statue of Stephen the Great
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Iaşi Palace of Culture.|
- Official site
- 360 inside view
- Information about the Palace (Romanian)
- Iași Palace of Culture, the most representative building of the Gothic Revival architecture in Romania
- 155 years from the opening of the first Pinacotheca in Romania (Romanian)