Architecture / Universities

“Grigore T. Popa” University of Medicine and Pharmacy – Nation Square

The “Grigore T.Popa” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, also known as the Calimachi Palace, is one of the most imposing and oldest buildings of Iași.

The initial building was erected in 1793 on the land of the hetman Costache Ghica and the treasurer Ion Cantacuzino, and became a princely residence during Calimachi Vodă (1795-1799). The restorations from 1845 led to the building`s development on two stories, in the classic style of boyar manors.

Under the reign of Cuza, the building was bought for the founding of the first modern University in Romania (1860), from where the name of the “Ancient University”. This is the place where the Iași Academy functioned, where Mihai Eminescu was a librarian, as well as the National Picture Gallery of Iași (The Museum of Art). Along with the inauguration of the new residence of the Iași University in Copou in 1897, this is where the Faculty of medicine remained due to its proximity to Spiridonia`s great hospital. Meanwhile, other faculties begin to emerge: Pharmacy, Dental Medicine and Medical Bioengineering. The old palace was extended through a big building with three stories and an attic, built in 1912. From the wall of the ancient princely residence only the entrance portal is left, with the coat of arms of Moldavia, known as the Door of Hope. The legend says that the students who walk underneath this gate will pass the exams. In 1991, it receives the status of University and the name of Grigore T. Popa – famous representative of the Functional Anatomy School in Iași. The façade is a Neoclassical one, with three arches and a vault for the carriage access, and on the superior floors, the windows are framed by Ionic columns.

On the right side, the building of the Anatomy Institute, built between 1894 and 1900 in Neoclassic style, has the shape of a Greek temple with Doric columns. The front side has a bas-relief called “The Anatomy Lesson” of the sculptor Wladimir Hegel, the one who also made the statues of Vasile Alecsandri and Miron Costin.

Inside the University of Medicine and Pharmacy there is the Museum of Medicine History and the Museum of Anatomy, where the statue “Ecorșeu” is exposed, a study for the representation of the human body, made by the sculptor Constantin Brâncuși in 1902 with the help of Dr. Dimitrie Gerota. The museums include exhibits such as historical documents, medical apparatus or wax masks representing eye diseases from the clinic of Prof. Dr. Elena Pușcariu – the first woman university professor in the field of Ophthalmology.

In front of the University, the United Nations Square was founded in 1999, with the Union Monument and a torch representing the Eternal Flame of Heroes.

Union Monument from the Nation Square

The 1918 Union Monument is a copy of an ancient statuary group ordered by the princess Olga I. Sturdza in 1927 and set at the base of Copou hill. That monument was destroyed during the Second World War and was replaced with the statue of Mihai Eminescu. But the Iași sculptor, Constantin Crengăniș, made a replica of the Union Monument, set in the Nation Square in 1999. The statuary group represents the Motherland in the middle and its three daughters, Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina and the child symbolises the Romanians left outside the borders. The monument is situated in the centre of a map of Greater Romania made by red paving blacks, and four alleys begin in the corners of the square and stop at the “borders”.

Strada Universității 16, Iași 700115
Photo by Andrei Cucu

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