Architecture / Landmarks / Universities

The University Palace

The Copou University Palace is a cultural and architectural symbol of Iași which dominates Copou hill since its grand inauguration in 1897, in the presence of King Charles I and Queen Elisabeth. (*historical details are presented in the Union Route).

The monumental aspect is given by the extension of the building in the ‘30s, when the central gable, the monumental stairway, as well as a symmetrical part on the lower side were added.

The façade is adorned with Ionic pillars and medallions with figures of some Romanian personalities. Above the main entrance, guarded by two lions, symbol of the power of knowledge, there is a balcony with six Corinthian columns which sustain a richly adorned gable. “VNIVERSITATEA” is written on it, and on the sides, there are bas-reliefs of children preoccupied with various science fields.

Once arrived in this emblematic area of Iași, you can’t miss the “Hall of Lost Steps”. Here, a series of 19 a secco wall paintings, dominated by blue, will take you to the vision of the renowned painter Sabin Bălașa, born in Oltenia (south-west Romania). He approaches various themes: the history of the Romanian people, the universal myths, the Romanian legends and Eminescu’s universe, the university, but also the ideals of socialism, the last one being a necessary condition in order to paint in that period. The creation of this work of art from the entrance of the University Palace lasted 10 years, beginning in 1968. But the last great painting of Bălașa – the “Galaxy of Love” – was made after 1990 in the “Mihai Eminescu” Magna Aula, and the author’s absolute attachment to his great work in the Copou University Palace determined him to leave a will stating that he should be buried in Iași. In 2008, his body received a final homage, for a day, right here, in this Hall.

In the right wing of the building (the old one, of 1897), which belongs to the “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University of Iași, you will discover two other rooms of great architectural value: the Aula and the Library of the “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University.

The Aula, with a capacity of over 300 seats, maintains the atmosphere of the last epoch, although it was rehabilitated and significantly modified after the massive destruction in 1944. The defining elements of the hall are the Baroque details: a legion of angels who are guarding the students, the decorative gilded stucco, the painted ceiling (nowadays, covered with plaster), the decorative wallpaper in the balcony with royal symbols (lily flower). The two large paintings, a reproduction of the original ones, illustrate King Charles I and Queen Elisabeth, founders of the Copou University Palace. These paintings guard, in a symbolic manner, the “shrine” of knowledge, watched over, in the upper side, by an owl – the symbol of wisdom. In the communist period, when royalty marks were removed, the two paintings were replaced with those of Gheorghe Asachi and Petru Poni. After replacing the royal paintings in 2013, the old paintings were moved in the entrance of the Aula.

The Library of the “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University of Iași, which is linked to the Aula through a balcony, was nominated by almost a million users of the site BoredPanda in the top of the most majestic 30 libraries in the world in 2015. Here, you will enter in a unique world, in an eclectic style – a mixture of Baroque and Neogothic with a royal aspect: circular archways, red marble pillars, fine wood sculpting, gilded detail elements and a coffered ceiling that dominates the entire 55 meter long room. The library’s walls were painted with representations of Moldavian churches and monasteries, and at the end of the hall – the Sphinx and the Pyramids, but the paintings were covered during communism.

At the semi-basement, the Tafrali Café invites visitors and students to relax, while they are turning over the pages of the books in the library. The souvenir shop of the University offers special items to remind you that you are visiting the first University in the country.

The “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University students actively participate in the cultural defining of Iași, the rooms of the Palace often becoming the meeting point of innovative ideas. Tens of associations were created in order to bring young people together, depending on faculty or common interests. Since 2015 a University choir was founded, called “Corala Universitas”.

Visiting hours for the “Gh. Asachi” University Library:

MONDAY – FRIDAY: 08:00 – 14:00 (OCTOBER – JUNE)

Visiting hours for the Hall of Lost Steps:

MONDAY – SATURDAY: 08:00 – 20:00 (OCTOBER – JUNE)

Tour of the Copou University Palace

The tourist’s route begins in Building A with the Hall of Lost Steps, Magna Aula, the Old Aula and the “Gheorghe Asachi” University Library. Next, there is an incursion through the structure of the solar system in the Planetarium, and afterwards, a visit to the conference hall of the former Water Tower behind the building which offers a great view over the city. After relaxing at Tafrali Café at the semi-basement (next to the souvenir shop) or in the University park, dominated by the statue “Youth” of the sculptor Marcel Guguianu, the itinerary proposes a visit to the Museum of Mineralogy and the Collection of Geographic Apparatus in Building B. The route ends with an incursion through the mysteries of the Cucuteni civilisation and the history of the institution in the University Museum (12 Titu Maiorescu Street).

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