Architecture in Iași
Photo by Andrei Cucu

Architecture in Iași

Local guide
Passioned about wayfinding, visual arts, architecture, and urbanism, Tiberiu is an optimistic architect living in Iași!
Iași's buildings bare witness to the different times in history, from princely palaces and communist rule to tragic events that changed the urban landscape of the city.

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.

Brutalist architecture

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.

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Photo by Alex Munteanu

Architecture, Libraries
The Iași Branch of the Romanian Academy is an institution of national importance, which has four objectives: academic, scientific, formative and communitarian, assuming research as a revaluation tool of national identity.

It contributes to the regulation of the Romanian language and the shaping of the Romanian cultural identity in the European context, through programs in Philology, History and Archaeology. Situated in Copou neighbourhood, at the intersection of “Carol I” Boulevard and General “Henri Mathias Berthelot” Street, near the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, the Romanian Academy building was constructed between 1981-1982. Designed by Nicolae Porumbescu, considered to be one of the greatest post-war Romanian architects, the edifice contributes to the enrichment of the architectural background of the cultural axis of Iași.

The Romanian Academy, founded on the 1st of April 1866 in Bucharest, has nowadays branches in Iași, Cluj-Napoca and Timișoara. The current building of the Romanian Academy, Iași Branch was constructed from the “Menachem H. Elias” Family Foundation Funds. In 1914, Jacques M. Elias, the son of Menachem, willed the Romanian Academy as successor of his entire fortune, the foundation established on the 2nd of April 1925 having as objective the support and development of national culture institutions. The founding of the Iași Branch of the Romanian Academy (called in the communist period, the Academy of the Popular/Socialist Republic of Romania), took place on the 13th of August 1948. The activity began on the 24th of January 1949 in the building of the former Mihăileană Academy, where it functioned until 1963, the building being demolished. After that, the headquarters of the Iași branch moved in the building of the old university in Iași, which now hosts the University of Medicine and Pharmacy. The new building was designed by the architect Nicolae Porumbescu and constructed between 1975-1979. Before that, he designed numerous cultural and administrative edifices, among which are: the Theatre of Hunedoara, the State Circus in Bucharest, the Culture House of Suceava, the Culture House of Baia Mare, the political-administrative headquarters in Botoșani, Suceava, Satu Mare, the R Building of the Faculty of Constructions Iași or the Building of the Architecture Section in Iași. Initially named “The House of Science and Technique of Iași”, the building of the Romanian Academy represented a premiere on what concerns the functional and space organisation of this type of edifice, especially of the library. Specific to Porumbescu’s architecture is the use of the sacred geometry, reinterpreting the Romanian traditional motifs and their transposition on a monumental scale, such as the combining in a swallow tail, ears of wheat, but also the two halves of a circle found on the Kissing Gate in Târgu Jiu – the work of the great sculptor Constantin Brâncuși. The building’s façade, although made of the austere concrete, received some personality and texture through bush hammering (having models pressed through hitting). The Academy’s library impresses through the fact that it maintained its initial aspect, the books being arranged in wood bookcases with decorative elements specific to the ‘80s. The classical method of looking up books through alphabetically arranged charts placed in small drawers is still conserved here, along with collections of journals, tens of paintings of scientists, as well as some busts. Another dominant feature of the building is the use, in an important measure, of the zenith light which enters the library through the coffered ceiling through rectangular concrete elements.

Bulevardul Carol I nr.8, Iași 700506
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Photo by Vladimir Negru

Landmarks, Squares
“It was the time of specialization and delivering of eulogies to the comrade workforce, and the building site became a type of symbol because great constructions took place and “building” and was the key-word which came up in all speeches regarding the “new society” and its “construction”. To work on a construction site meant working for the future. A masquerade, of course. It was presented as if there haven’t been any construction sites before or as if without the communists nothing would have been built”. Gabriel Liiceanu in a dialogue with Mircea Ivănescu, ”The Masques of M.I.” (Bucharest: Humanitas, 2012), 37

From an urban point of view, the Anastasie Panu Boulevard area, known as the Civic Centre, was fundamentally redesigned during 1968-1989. Here we can find buildings with contrasting functions, unusually linked to collective dwellings: the Square House (the local governmental headquarters), the Luceafărul Theatre, the Moldova hotel, the Moldova Shopping center, the Palace of Justice, the Central Market. All of these entered by force in an organically developed urban texture, of Romantic type. Thus, the city of pedestrians and trams became tributary to cars , with wide boulevards flanked by tall constructions that create the illusion of a great urban density. The concrete architecture doesn’t discriminate; it handles any challenge and becomes the favorite material, the main expression of the communist architecture in Romania. The merchants’ place and the one of the little bourgeoisie is taken by collective dwellings with sober, but imposing architecture, which flanks the linear boulevard.

The “Moldova” Universal shop, the work of the architect Victor Mihailovici, was built in 1972 and had varied products, just like a “Shopping Mall” of the capitalist world. The shop also attracted the residents of Iași with the escalator, back then, the only one in the city. The “Moldova” Hotel, built in 1984 after the plans of the architect Gheorghe Cheptea, was placed in the back of the “Saint Nicolae Domnesc” Church. Although the declared purpose was to value the monument, in reality, the hotel dominates it through its size. The blocks of flats from the sides of the Palace of Justice were built symmetrically and have, on the mezzanine, above the commercial spaces, a frieze decorated with massive concrete elements which stylizes a “Hora Unirii” dance (people holding hands) around the dwelling complex.

Nowadays, the Civic Centre revolves round the Central Market Square, area dominated until 1879 by the Saint Friday Monastery from the 16th century. Situated between two commercial streets, the area becomes a commercial center since the 17th century. The old Wall and Iron Market, designed by Gustave Eiffel in 1871 on a metal structure and with a generous basement, with wide arches, storage spaces and refrigerating plants, was devastated by a massive snow fall in 1960. A fragment of the metal structure can be found in front of the Faculty of Constructions. In order to make space for the building of Public Finances, in 1988 the Fish Market is also demolished, having a smaller size. The new Central Market, designed by the architect C. Constantinescu is inaugurated in 1977, with a generous esplanade towards the boulevard. Spread around the entire surface of the historical core, a series of cellars were revealed during the construction of an underground passage in the area between 2006 and 2012. This project is the first one in Iași which values the discovered ruins by reconverting them into galleries and commercial spaces.

The blocks of flats seem to suddenly end towards the boulevard’s east end, where there is now a green space and a modern hotel. Due to the December ‘89 Revolution, the collective dwellings ensemble of the Civic Centre remained unfinished, but dominates even today the urban landscape.

Strada Anastasie Panu, Iași
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Photo by Argenna - Wikipedia

The Galata Monastery was built between 1577 and 1584, at the initiative of Prince Petru Şchiopul. It was called “Galata from the hill”, compared to the old monastery situated “in the valley” that had collapsed shortly after its construction because of the unstable terrain.

The building was built as a fortress surrounded by a strong stone wall. Together with the bell tower, the monastery provided a place of refuge for the prince and his family, and the palace built by Petru Şchiopul was preserved on the premises. The year 1659 was extremely disturbing for the Galata monastery, which had become the royal residence of Gheorghe Ghica. The ruler of Walachia, Constantin Șerban, defeated the ruler of Moldavia, but the latter returned with the Tartar allies who occupied the monastery and threw the defeated people from the tower. In 1675 and 1799, plague epidemics in the city forced the rulers and courtiers to flee here. In 1799, Lord Constantine Ipsilanti built courtyards with two rows of houses in Galata and a palace in order to spend here the warm summers. His son, General Alexandru Ipsilanti, the leader of liberation movement Eteria, had the headquarters here for a while during the Greek Revolution of 1821. Later, Prince Mihail Sturdza (1834-1849) added another floor to the bell tower building, which is clearly delimited by the other two by a stone girdle. After the secularization of monasteries, the palace and annexed buildings were used as a military prison until 1923, then as a penitentiary until 1944, and so the sanctuary began to decline. Between 1961 and 1971, the ensemble was restored, the Royal Palace was partially rebuilt, and the ruins and cellars were preserved.

The Galata Church is characterized by architectonic elements that had not been encountered in Moldova until then: the replacement of the wall between the tomb and the nave with three arcades supported by columns, the illumination of the apses with three windows, the median girdle dividing the two façades and the secondary tower over the narthex. Until then, churches in Moldova had either a single tower (usually the voivode buildings) or none. The two octagonal towers rest on a square base and two stellate. Originally, the church had exterior frescoes that were ruined over time. Removal of the plaster revealed the Byzantine construction of sandstone and brick that alternate in horizontal layers. Also, the interior frescoes were destroyed after a fire in 1762. Only the votive painting on the northern wall and some representations of angels remained.

In the former Princely Palace there is a tailoring workshop of liturgical garments and also an embroidery workshop, as well as a monastery museum where old cult objects, city maps, fragments of the original fresco and seals of the metropolitan or city from 1650 can be seen. After 1990, Galata became a nunnery.

Strada Mănăstirii nr. 4, Iași 700616
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Photo by Argenna - Wikipedia

The Frumoasa district is the result of communist systematization in the 1970s and 1980s. It consists of groups of 4-storey blocks arranged around common spaces near the Frumoasa Monastery, which was established with the Galata Monastery in the 16th century.

In 1729, the monastery remained in ruins, but Prince Gregory II Ghica restored it. He supported the construction of the bell tower, the wall and two palaces, one for the rulers and boyars, and the other for ladies, the latter being placed in a beautiful flower garden with artesian fountains. Through the barrage of the Nicolina River was also possible to arrange an artificial lake with fish, the lake being used also for boat trips. This is why the place was named “Frumoasa” (“the Beautiful”).

Between 1812 and 1842, the entire ensemble was restored (because in the meantime it was ruined again), when the present architecture of the church was adopted. Thus, the tower was erected and equipped with ionic columns at the level of the bells room, and with a “onion bulb” roof according to the Russian model. Next to the church the marble funeral monument of the Sturdza family was installed (one of the first of its kind in Moldova), and the “Palace on the Walls” was built, a neoclassical building with the entrance from the courtyard and the opposite façade opening towards the former garden.

The church is an architectural masterpiece, with four false towers arranged in line. The entrance is decorated in neoclassical style, with a high Doric portico consisting of four columns. The façades also have Doric pillars. Although the longitudinal plane is preserved, the interior is treated as a unique space, contrary to the Romanian medieval churches. The ceiling is supported by eight marble columns with gilt blue stucco caps and is richly decorated with frescoes in vibrant colours. They illustrate the family of Prince Gregory II Ghica and the seven ecumenical synods, along with the Iaşi Synod in 1642, presenting the old city in the background.

On the eastern side of the enclosure walls, there is a wooden gate, “The Hangman’s Gate”, which opens to the place where the public executions of thieves where held between 1820 and 1845. From the mantles of the executioners comes the name of the nearby neighbourhood, “Manta Rosie” (The red Mantle). Until the secularization of monasteries in 1863, Frumoasa Monastery was one of the richest monasteries in Moldova, with 16 properties in Moldova, Bucovina and Bessarabia. After the secularization, the State turned the princes’ residence into barracks for various cavalry regiments and military prison, and installed a military hospital with ophthalmology specialization here. After 1945, it functioned as a parish church, and since 2003 it has become again a monastery.

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Photo by Luceafărul Theatre

The theatre for children couldn’t have not existed in Iași. This appeared as a puppet theatre in 1949. The residence was situated in a room of 200 seats, in the yard of the Catholic Church.

Meanwhile, it diversified the shows, so that music, poetry, pantomime and dance gradually joined the puppets, in 1973 becoming Theatre for Children and Youth. If initially the main sources of inspiration for the shows were inspired from Romanian folk stories, later on universal literature would be present on the Iași scene through many famous titles. “Tartarin of Tarascon” of the writer Alphonse Daudet or “Forced marriage”, creation of the theatre writer Moliére, are examples of the first foreign works played in Iași, for children. The opening play of the Theatre was “The Gold Fish” by the Grimm brothers, which remains a landmark of the institution, being replayed on anniversary occasions. But the oldest play in the theatre’s repertoire is “Punguța cu doi bani” after Ion Creangă.

After the earthquake of 1977, the institution moves into the Youth Culture House (now, the students’) where it remains for 10 years. In 1987, the name of Theatre for Children and Youth received sonority through the reference to a symbol of Romanian literature, “Luceafărul”, the masterpiece of the national poet, Mihai Eminescu. In the same year, the theatre plays begin to the performed in a new building, constructed in the modern architecture style of communism, of great grandeur for those times, which is even nowadays residence of the Theatre. When the “Moldavia” Philharmonic Orchestra of Iași went into reparations, some of its shows began to be played on the scene of the “Luceafărul” Theatre.

The construction of the theatre lasted for 10 years and encountered difficulties due to lack of funds, which were especially sent to the building of blocs of flats, hospitals and schools after the great earthquake of 1977. The building’s plan is hexagonal and the structure is entirely made of concrete. The inside and outside decorations were made of travertine and Rușchița marble, materials initially put aside for the People’s House in Bucharest (the current Palace of Parliament). Above the entrance, we can see a metal coat of arms which combines the theatre mask with a lyre.

Nowadays, no matter your age, you can enjoy here great performances. The International Festival for Young Public (FITPT) is one of the events which gathers famous international artists each October, with over 200 actors from 15 countries. The quality of the plays performed here is reflected in the difficulty of finding tickets for some of the shows.

Strada Grigore Ureche nr. 5, Iași 700044
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Photo by Andrei Cucu

Architecture, Landmarks
The main attraction and the absolute symbol of Iași, the Palace of Culture represents an emblematic museum of Romania and the headquarters of the National Museum Complex of Moldavia.

The monumental edifice imposes through its height (the 55m tower), surface (268 rooms with a total surface of 35.000 m2) and its privileged position on a promontory of the “Golden Plateau”, the terrace from above the Bahlui river which offers the best visibility.

The current shape of the building is the result of the remake, between 1906 and 1925, of the former residence of Moldavia’s Princes, situated inside the old Princely Court of Iași. The Court was initially erected during the reign of Alexander the Good towards 1400, and documented in 1434. This is where the capital of Moldavia was moved in 1564, during the time of Voivode Alexandru Lăpușneanu, followed by a long consolidation process. On the 27th of May 1600, in the same place, Michael the Brave proclaimed himself “Prince of Wallachia and Transylvania and Moldavia”, a title that no other voivode has had before. The Iași Union of Romanian Principalities for almost a year, later strengthened the ideals of union of Romanians everywhere.

During the first centuries of existence, the Princely Court looked like a fortress, with defence walls, bastions and entrance tower, but the fortifications were removed at the order of the Ottoman Empire. A remodeling takes place under the reign of Vasile Lupu (1634-1653). After some fires and the devastating earthquake in 1802 (7.9 Richter), which destroyed a big part of the constructions, the Prince of Moldavia Alexandru Moruzi builds an imposing Princely Palace (1806-1812) designed by the architect Johan Freywald, similar to Viennese palaces. It is said that it had 365 rooms, one for each day of the year. After a fire, between 1841-1843, Prince Mihail Sturdza ordered the reconstruction of the edifice under the name “The Palace of Reign”. After the 1848 Revolution, Iași was the cradle of Romanian intellectuals’ effort of accomplishing the ideal of Union: “Hey, Wallachian, hey, neighbour, come join me” (“Hora Unirii”, Vasile Alecsandri, 1856). In the Hall of the Elective Assembly in the Palace (situated then above the entrance hallway) the election of Alexandru Ioan Cuza as Prince of Moldavia was confirmed on the January 5th 1859 and the mission of accomplishing the Union was given to him. Cuza’s investiture firman was read here on the 21st of September 1859 by the Turkish colonel Samih-bei. After the decision of moving the capital to Bucharest (1862), the building loses a part of its roles and after the 1880 fire, the palace receives a Neoclassical aspect of French inspiration. In 1883, in front of the Palace, the equestrian statue of Voivode Stephen the Great was erected, with bas-reliefs representing the battle of Moldavia with Poland and with the Ottoman Empire, work of the French sculptor Emmanuel Fremiet. The promise of King Charles I to offer Iasi a true symbol led to the redesign of the edifice in 1906 by the architect Ion D. Berindei, in a Flamboyant Neogothic architectural style, changing its destination into a Palace of Justice and Administration. The inauguration took place on the 11th of October 1925, in the presence of King Ferdinand I and Queen Mary. During the Second World War, it served as barracks of German and then Russian troops and field hospital. Begining with 1955, the edifice received the name “Palace of Culture”, hosting the Museum of History of Moldavia and the Museum Complex.

The building reflects the spirit of ducal palaces in Western Europe, with triumphal hallways decorated with pavement mosaics, very large halls and a rich wall heraldic decoration. In the arrangement of some rooms, ultramodern technologies were used (ventilation system, lighting, vacuum cleaner, clocks synchronized with the one in the tower, etc.) or, as a first, the usage of bois-ciment (“wood-cement”), a decorative material from a mixture of cement and resin, boiled in oil, imitating oak wood, invention of the famous engineer Henri Coandă.

The Palace of Culture shelters four museums of national importance: The Museum of History of Moldavia, The Museum of Art, The Ethnographic Museum and The “Stefan Procopiu” Museum of Science and Technique.

The testimony of the existence of the Princely Court is present in the medieval foundations visible through glass floors or in the exhibits which approach the evolution of military organization of the capital of Moldavia. The society of Iasi of the 19th century is illustrated through fashionable activities – theatre, photography and sports bets. The role of Palace of Justice is present in the typical Court room or in the former Jury Court in the Henri Coandă Hall. The most impressive room in the Palace is the Voivodes Hall (first floor), a festivity hall with a Gothic arch ceiling, with the portrait gallery of the rulers of Moldavia’s lands, from Decebal to Charles II (Carol II), on a Prussian blue background, and with a superb fireplace symbolically decorated with the genealogic tree of Moldavia’s rulers. The clock tower has the carillon horologe – a drum with pins which operates eight bells. These bells play “Hora Unirii” (composed by the Iasi composer of German origins Alexander Flechtenmacher) at each precise hour, symbol of the essential role that Iași had in the birth of modern Romania. Fifteen minutes before the precise hour, tours are organised in the palace’s attic and tower in order to observe the clock’s mechanism, to experience the vibration of the bells and to admire the superb view over the Old Centre of the city.

The Princely Court ruins (still in arrangement), the effigy of the Rosetti family, from the current Roznovanu Palace and the two cannons (trophies from the Independence War in 1877) harmoniously complete the Palace Square.

Bulevardul Ștefan cel Mare și Sfânt 1, Iași 700028
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The Bărboi Church was built in 1841-1844 by the great chancellor Dimitrie Sturdza, on the place of another church built by the headman Ursu Bărboi between 1613 and 1615. It is the work of architect Andrei Caridi, helped by the artisans Atanasie and Gheorghe. Its patron saints are Saint Apostles Peter and Paul, celebrated each year on the 29th of June.

The church of Ioan Ursu Bărboi was transformed in 1669 into a monastery and was dedicated to the Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos. Due to its weakening caused by bad weather and earthquakes (especially after the one in 1829), the founder’s heirs of the Sturdza family decided to rebuild their ancestor’s church entirely. In 1842, the Prince of Moldavia, Ioniță Sandu Sturdza, was buried here, him being the first settled Prince of the Principality of Moldavia after the Phanariot era. Other members of the Sturdza family are also buried here, as well as the poet Alecu Russo. Between 1863 and 1865, deacon Ion Creangă lived in the parochial house, before being transferred to Golia Monastery.

The church’s shape is inspired by the Greek Orthodox architecture, having a rectangular plane. It has Byzantine elements like the alternation of blocks of stone and brick friezes, the trefoil plane of the apses, and the Neoclassic elements on the façade. On the roof, there are four small towers which flank a central over-raised tower. Inside, the Greek influence can be noticed through the enlarged iconostasis and the Greek writings. Some contemporary architects said that it is unique in the Balkan Peninsula through the harmony of arches inside, sustained by the Carrara marble column. The painting is made in “fresco” technique, in Renaissance style, with real size representations of saints.

The steeple from the entrance is built in carved stone, having a thin shape. This has a vaulted brick entrance and is structured on four levels. The first level represents the access vault into the monastery, levels two and three shelter the bells, and in the fourth one there is the clock. The parish house reproduces the shapes of traditional Moldavian houses.

The damages made by the 1977 earthquake in the area, offered the communist regime the excuse to demolish old buildings and monuments. Many churches were hidden behind blocks of flats, not to be seen from the boulevards. It is said that in there were plans to raise a building right between the tower and the church, but luckily, Bărboi Church survived, being renovated with the help of the Romanian Patriarch Teoctist and it was sanctified again in 1988. Since 1990 the local tradition of the “Stâlparilor” pilgrimage was revived, on each Saturday of Saint Lazarus (of Larnaca). During it, thousands of believers, young people, pupils and priests from Iași gather at Băboi church and go on procession towards the Metropolitan Cathedral, holding the icon of Jesus Christ.

Stradela Bărboi nr. 12, Iași 700072
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The monastic ensemble of Golia Monastery is comprised of the “Lord’s Ascension” church, an iconic square tower, fortified outer walls with four circular towers in the corners, a water house, a house with columns where Ion Creangă lived temporarily and an abbey with the “Virgin Mary’s girdle” chapel.

The name comes from the chancellor Ioan Golia who built a religious dwelling in the 16th century. Throughout time, the monument became a ruin, but between 1650-1653, the Prince of Moldavia, Vasile Lupu built the church we see today. In 1672 the four circular towers of the defense wall were added and the steeple was consolidated. In 1855 the tower was over-raised by 20 m, reaching almost 50 m, but the height and the weight triggered cracks and it was at risk of collapse. It was restored to its initial size in 1900, after the intervention of King Charles I.

The exterior design of the church was influenced by late Renaissance, a style which reached Iași through Galicia: an edifice of classical type, polished stone blocks, framed by Corinthian pillars (with acanthus leaves capitals) and crenelated cornice sustained by consoles. On the roof, there are many towers and domes arranged in line and sustained by arches, called kokoshniki. With an octagonal base, the towers have Wallachian adornment and Oriental motifs.

The access doors from the porch and towards the pronaos are surrounded by a beautiful marble sculpture, with Moldavia’s Coat of Arms. In the pavement of the pronaos, the most embellished tombstone is the white marble one of Sultana (1763), the wife of Voivode Constantin Racoviță, situated on the place of the founder’s coffin, Ioan and Ana Golia. One the most valuable objects is the chandelier of the pronaos, with Vasile Lupu’s monogram (BBZM) and the four candlesticks in front of the altar, donations of the voivode. The chandelier in the nave is a gift from Russia’s Tsar Peter the Great who visited the church in June 1711 and who was deeply impressed by its greatness. The initial painting made by an artisan called Matei is preserved in the porch. The nave painting dates back to 1754 and parts of the paintings in the nave and the altar were restored in 1838. At the entrance, on the pronaos’ wall, a commemorative painting shows the founders of the church – Prince Ieremia Movilă and the Golia family to the north, and the family of Voivode Vasile Lupu to the south.

The tower of Golia, 29 m tall, is located at the entrance. It has three floors, secret chambers and a spiral stairway with 120 steps. It is the only steeple in the country with a top terrace, open to the public. Throughout time it served as access to the patrol walls, as a prison, as the archive’s headquarters, and today, the halls shelter art exhibitions. Near the tower we can see the first water house in Iași, with a Turkish fountain on the outer wall, built around 1805 during the reign of Prince Alexandru Moruzi.  This is also the place where Radio Trinitas, the official radio of the Romanian Orthodox Church, was founded in the 1990s. The column house, built in the 18th century, where Ion Creangă lived temporarily, hosts a small ethnographic museum dedicated to the writer.

Strada Cuza Vodă nr. 51, Iași 700040
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The “History of Romanian Theatre” Collection offers a complete view on the dramaturgy in Iași, and the “Mihai Ursachi” Culture House of Iași, from the same complex, represents a meeting point of arts.

In 1976, a unique collection in the country was opened, with approximately 22.000 exhibits, in the former Museum of Theatre on the Vasile Alecsandri Street, a historic monument building in which the playwright Vasile Alecsandri had spent his childhood. Since 2009, the exhibits were moved in the current location, on the first floor of the “Mihai Eminescu” Museum founded in 1989 in Copou Park.

The collection of theatre performances posters cover the entire evolution of the dramatic phenomenon, including the first poster which has the title of “Iași National Theatre” on it, dating from 1840. The manuscripts and original documents are proof of the involvement of famous names of the Romanian culture in the theatre of Iași . Some documents are signed by the playwright Vasile Alecsandri himself or by the poets Mihai Codreanu or George Topîrceanu.

The main attraction remains the section dedicated to the show world. The visitor can imagine scenes played by Matei Millo, the first Romanian actor who played as travesty. Some of his costumes were exhibited here. Millo is known for the part of Chirița in Vasile Alecsandri’s plays, but also for the first Romanian operetta wrote by him in 1848 – “Baba Hârca”. If you are an opera fan, you will discover here a part of the costumes worn on stage by the Romanian soprano Hariclea Darclée, considered a genius artist by the composer Giacomo Puccini.

You can interact with the artistic world in multiple ways in the same building of the “Mihai Ursachi” Culture House of Iași, which has a show hall with over 200 seats, exhibition room and creation rooms. Several events are organized here, such as photography exhibitions, book launches, art exhibitions, musical events, charitable concerts, international theater festivals and shows which are part of the International Education Festival.

The “Mihai Ursachi” Culture House also hosts the Film Fans Club, which dedicates each month to a director and weekly projects an art film in the show hall. An event which promotes European multiculturality is the Multicolour Festival, taking part on the building’s esplanade, each year in June. Each year, at the end of June, there is also the great National Ceramics Fair “Cucuteni 5000”, when artisans from all around the country and from the Republic of Moldova exhibit traditional or artistic ceramics, and Copou Park becomes quite crowded.

Visiting hours – Theatre Collection: TUESDAY – SUNDAY: 10:00-17:00

Matei Millo – The first modern actor

Matei Millo was an actor, director and playwright from Iași, dramatic arts teacher and manager of the Iași National Theatre. He had his debut in 1834, in the play “Celebration of Moldavian Shepherds”, directed by Gh. Asachi, playing alongside M. Kogălniceanu. In 1840, he departs to Paris to learn economy and engineering, but he abandons them and begins taking acting classes, becoming the first Romanian actor with a university degree în acting. In 1846, he is named manager of the Iași National Theatre and becomes famous through his plays in which he dressed as travesty – Madam Chirița or Baba Hârca – despite the critics of the time. The Copou Park museum commemorates his intense activity and his bust can be found in the Theatre Park.

Parcul Copou, Bulevardul Carol I, Iași
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