It’s one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in Romania. Founded in 1860, shortly after the formation of the United Principalities, the University of Iași, as it was originally called, is the first modern university in Romania.
One of the oldest higher education institutions in Romania, it was founded in 1879, as a Faculty of Medicine, being later associated with two other institutions that complete the area of medical training – the Faculty of Pharmacy and the Faculty of Dental Medicine. In 1991, the institute was granted the status of University, receiving the name of the famous representative of the School of Functional Anatomy Iasi, Grigore T. Popa. Later, the Faculty of Medical Bioengineering was included, the only one of its kind in Romania.
Today, the university is proud of valuable teaching staff as well as a modernized material and technical base, adequate for the development of the teaching process and the scientific research activity.
Founded in 1937, “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University of Iasi is one of the oldest and most well-known institutions in the country, being the custodian of an important tradition in engineering, science, and culture education. It has a distinct presence both locally and nationally and internationally.
Iași University of Life Sciences or “Ion Ionescu de la Brad” University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine is an institution specialized in higher agronomic and veterinary medical education, with national and European scope, having as fundamental mission the training of engineers specialized in agriculture, mountaineering, horticulture, engineering and management, food engineering, environmental engineering, animal husbandry, biology graduates and veterinarians.
The University of Arts stands as a beacon of culture, militating for the protection, preservation, and promotion of the Romanian artistic creation, for the fostering and development of the taste for beauty, and for authentic creations.
The University of Arts took on a mission to shape the personality of future artists and to contribute to the development of Romanian and universal culture, and also to train specialists in the domain of art (music, visual arts, drama) for the specialized education system.
In 1714, the Princely Academy is founded in Iași and in 1835 the Mihăileană Academy (of Prince Mihail Sturza) is founded, with two faculties – law and philosophy. In 1860, the first modern university institution is founded – the Iași University through the decree of Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza, with the support of minister Mihail Kogălniceanu.
The first residence of the Iași University (“Ancient University”) hosted in the beginning three faculties – Philosophy, Law and Theology, followed by Sciences and Medicine, with time, the place not being big enough. Only Medicine remained there, while the other faculties moved in 1897 in the current residence in Copou, also known as the Copou University Palace. This Palace was built on the place of the great National Theatre (destroyed by a fire in 1888) and was inaugurated in 1897, in the presence of King Charles I and of Queen Elisabeth. During the First World War the University Palace hosted the meeting of the Senate of Romania and the ministries of War and Public Instructions, Red Cross or Scouts. Between 1933-1937 the building was symmetrically extended in the southern part and the central gable with the monumental stairway was built. In 1942, the University took on the name of its great protector. During the 1944 bombing, the edifice was deeply damaged and proposed for demolition, but due to professors and people of culture, its restoration was decided.
The palace impresses through size and architecture. The building was erected after the plans of the Swiss architect Louis Blanc, in French eclectic style, combining Classic and Baroque styles. In front of the University there are the statues of the great historian A. D. Xenopol (rector of the University) and of the prime-minister Mihail Kogălniceanu (with two alto-reliefs representing his role in the election of Cuza in 1859 and in the Land Reform in 1864). The main hallway from the ground floor, with an impressive length of almost 130 metres is suggestively called the “Hall of Lost Steps”. The 19 niches are beautifully decorated with surrealist wall paintings of the painter Sabin Bălașa. They reflect the national spirit and culminate to the north with the painting “Homage to the Founders”. Alexandru Ioan Cuza can be seen in the middle of the composition, surrounded by his close ones (Mihail Kogălniceanu, Costache Negri, Garabet Ibrăileanu) or the continuators of the university (rector A. D. Xenopol) and, curiously, by the opponent of the Union and of Cuza – the erudite Gheorghe Asachi. But the last one was the initiator of the Mihăileană Academy of Iași, foregoing of the University and poet of historical legends (Dochia and Traian, Stephen the Great) which are the base of the cosmogonic inspiration for some paintings in the Hall. Totally, the scene of the 12 figures surrounding Cuza has the symbolic aspect of a “Last Supper” in which the base of modern superior education was settled.
The old wing (right) has two architectural jewels: the Old Hall and the Library – one of the most beautiful in the world, today belonging to the “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University. The new wing (left) has the “Mihai Eminescu” Magna Aula, dominated by Sabin Bălașa’s painting “Galaxy of love”. Nowadays, the University comprises 15 faculties, a European Study Centre and various research centres, with almost 23.000 students and 850 professors and is internationally acknowledged through its excellence and innovation in education and research.
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Iași – War capital
On the 6th of December 1916, the German army occupied Bucharest and the state institutions and many civilians ran to Iași. The people of Iași and the other Moldavians had a rough time between 1917-1918 as Romanian resistance. Over 300.000 refugees were hosted in a city with almost 70.000 citizens and depleted of resources. The presence in Iași and on the front of the French mission led by general Henri Mathias Berthelot helped the Romanian Army to regroup after losing control over the southern part of the country. Near the university, on the street bearing his name, we can find the house where the general lived. The smiling angel with a beard and moustache who supports the weight of the richly adorned balcony is an attraction for tourists. Queen Mary, also known as “Mother of wounded ones”, after staying for two weeks in the royal train in the Grajduri train station, went to the Cantacuzino-Pașcanu Palace (today, Children’s Palace), which also hosted the headquarters of the IV Army Corp. The queen was always close to the soldiers hosted in high-schools, schools or institutions in Iași that were transformed into hospitals, one of them being the hero Ecaterina Teodoroiu. Excepting those wounded in battle, more and more people became ill with typhus, an epidemic which devastated Moldavia and made hundreds of thousands of deaths. On top of all of these dramas, in the Ciurea train station near Iași, on the 13th of January 1917, the biggest train accident in the world (at that moment) took place. That was the moment when over 1000 refugees and soldiers who piled up in and on the wagons, after the Germans conquered Brăila, lost their lives. After starting the Great Union in Iași, on the 1st of December 1918, King Ferdinand I returned victorios to Bucharest and Iași remained the symbol of national resistance for all Romanians.
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”.