Landmarks / Squares / Streets

Independence Statue and Boulevard

Throughout time, the Independence Boulevard, one of the main streets in the center of Iași, was known as the Upper Street, I. C. Brătianu Street or Gheorghe Dimitrov Street.

After the earthquake of 1977, the authorities decided to redesign the old narrow street. The town planning intervention under the communist regime meant creating an imposing boulevard, with collective dwellings which would dominate the built landscape, becoming a curtain taken down on the Romantic architecture. The churches were hidden behind concrete blocks of flats whose façade reads “INDEPENDENȚA”, through the balcony arrangement. Only the Old University, the St. Spiridon Hospital and the Museum of Natural History remained from the old street’s architecture.

The Statue of Independence in front of the Main Polyclinic was made by the couple Gabriela Manole-Adoc and Gheorghe Adoc, the project receiving a prize in a national contest in 1975. The work had the role of celebrating 100 years from the proclamation of Romania’s Independence in 1877. The monument was inaugurated later, in 1980, in the presence of the Ceaușescu couple, when the boulevard was also renamed.

Standing 17 meters tall (11m the statue and 6 m the base), the statue is the first figurative representation of the Independence in the Romanian monumental art, taking the shape of a heroine holding above her head the flag of victory. Between the scarf and the upper part of the woman’s body, the geographical shape of Great Romania is implied. The 6 bronze bas-reliefs in the travertine base present moments of the War of Independence. These are arranged in this manner: three on the right (The foreign prince’s arrival in the country – Carol I; The Proclamation of Independence; The Danube Crossing) and three on the left (The Calling to Battle; The great victory of the Romanian flags; The conquest of the Grivița and Plevna redoubts and The Capitulation of the Turkish army of Osman Pasha).

Although the architects wanted to place a quote of the poet Mihai Eminescu on the base, the authorities of the time decided the placing of a long quote of Nicolae Ceaușescu: “The heroism of our century old ancestors will live forever in the deeply thankful conscience of the entire nation, and the work achieved with their blood, by the generations of 1877, shall shine forever in our history, like one of the greatest victories on the path to freedom, progress, independence and happiness of the Romanian people”. In 1992, this was removed and the current one was set, after the initial desire of the sculptors – “The Independence is the sum of our historical life”.

Nowadays, on national holidays, the Statue of Independence is, along with the Statue of Alexandru Ioan Cuza from the Union Square, one of the monuments in Iași where flower crowns are laid down by the Romanian state representatives.

The director Cristian Mungiu from Iași and the theme of communism

Cristian Mungiu is one of the greatest directors of the New Romanian cinema wave, with the Palme d’Or prize in The Cannes Film Festival in 2007 for the film “4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days” which targets the theme of the abortion ban during the communist period. In his reference film, “Beyond the Hills” (2012), Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan (from Iași) received the prize for interpretation in the Cannes Festival. Mungiu ludically tackles the avatars of the communist regime in the series “Recollections from the Golden Age”. This collective movie is comprised of 6 short films which ironically present various aspects of the life of Romanians in the Ceaușescu epoch. Mungiu frequently casts actors from Iași in his films: Anamaria Marinca, Ion Sapdaru, Teodor Corban, Petronela Grigorescu.

Piaţa Independenţei, Iași
Photo by Cezar Suceveanu – Wikipedia

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