If you’re an architecture buff, Iași is a generous place, with structures dating back to the medieval times. The Princely residence for three centuries, the city is a testimony to all major tides of history. Its architecture spans various styles: medieval, neogothic, neoclassic, baroque, neo-romanian, eclectic and brutalist.
The Palace of Culture
The people of Iași have developed as a garden city since ancient times, the current urban fabric coagulating around the courtyards of mansions and boyar palaces that can be admired today.
It is said that in Iași every stone speaks about the past, each about another past, the urban experience being a kaleidoscopic one – a real collage in which the image of the medieval city overlaps with the baroque, neoclassical, neo-gothic, art nouveau, art deco, modern, brutalist and contemporary.
The Palace of Culture is by far the most popular tourist destination in Iasi throughout the year, hosting 4 museums within the Moldova Museum Complex. Built on the ruins of the Princely Court from 1434 and of the Princely Palace from 1806, the Palace of Culture receives its appearance today in 1925 according to the plans of the Romanian architect Ion D. Beryndei.
A true symbol of the city, the Palace of Culture is still the place around which revolves the most beautiful stories of Iasi; stories that each of us, from Iași, even for a few hours, has the duty to discover and pass on.
The fortified monasteries
Medieval lithographs portray Iasi as a medieval fortress, although archaeological evidence does not fully support this hypothesis. What we do know for sure is that strategically located around the center and along the main trade routes, the monasteries and fortified churches were real points of defense of the city.
The fortified monasteries in Iași are a unique attraction capable of teleporting us to times that are intertwined with myths and legends. True repositories of the knowledge and teachings of the ancestors, the fortifications are today oases of peace and calm in an increasingly cosmopolitan and hectic city.
In the center there is the Golia Monastery, founded by Vasile Lupu, with an imposing defense tower along the Greek fortifications and the Bărboi Monastery with a bell tower built by Genoese craftsmen. To the south, on the banks of the Nicolina River, we find the Frumoasa fortified monastery, with the “Gate of the Hanged” and the “Palace on the Walls” and on the hills that bear their name are the Galata Monastery and the Citadel, two candles whose light still guards the city.
In Iași, brutalism penetrated as an expression of communist propaganda, but, over time, due to the efforts of Nicolae Porumbescu, it became a particular current that, despite its volumetric drama, has the expression of a human-scale architecture.
Concrete, as the only form of expression, represented the language in which the traditional Romanian crafts were translated. Volumetric decorative elements, glazed facades made by wood sculptors, along with elements made of stamped concrete and volumetrics that interpret a wood architecture are the main forms of expression. The Romanian Academy and the Faculty of Architecture, projects designed by Nicolae Porumbescu, but also other buildings such as the “Mihai Ursachi” House of Culture or the “Ion Creangă” Cultural-Museum Complex bear his imprint.
The Civic Center, the Central Hall, the Tribunal and the Luceafărul Theater are also examples of brutalist architecture whose aesthetics have been domesticated with the help of decorations, plywood and elements of detail that cover the massive and sculptural volumes.