It’s hard to miss the Palace of Culture if you’re visiting Iasi. A true historical symbol of the past, this monumental edifice dominates the central part of the second-largest city in Romania. The Palace of Culture is not only one of the most impressive landmarks in the country, but it’s also the historical monument that had the most extensive renovation works done in the past decades.
With its almost 300 rooms and 36,000 square meters, the Palace of Culture from Iasi is the last administrative building of these imposing dimensions done in Romania before WW2. The decision belonged to Romania’s first king, Carol the 1st, and the construction started in 1906 on the grounds of the former Princely Palace. WW1 derailed the building plans, and the palace was inaugurated only in 1925 in the presence of his heirs, King Ferdinand and Queen Maria, who lived in Iasi in the dramatic years of the First World War.
The palace displays a fascinating eclectic style with Neo-Gothic, Neo-Baroque, and even Art Nouveau elements, a result of the different construction phases before or after WW1. From the beginning, the palace had the most modern installations and the most elaborate decorations and furniture. Its initial purpose, before being transformed into a museum in 1955, was to be the Palace of Justice and Administration, a function it served for three decades.
The former Palace of Justice hosts today the History Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the Science Museum, and the Art Museum. Its original glamour opens up in the Honor Hall with two large Carrara marble stairs, stained glass large windows, and a fascinating marble floor with allegoric figures.
The Voivodes’ Hall, maybe the most impressive space of the Palace, offers a great visual history lesson that includes the portraits of ancient King Decebal and the Roman Emperor Traian, the Moldavian princes, and of the royal family.
For the complete experience, go up to the clock tower, a symbol of the Palace of Culture from Iasi. Since its first days, the large clock with carillon and hands over one meter long was activated through a complex mechanism that simultaneously announced the exact hour in the 25 halls of the palace. The view from the small windows is panoramic, plus the guide will give you all the detailed explanations of the clock mechanism.
The Palace of Culture from Iasi looks like it belongs to a completely different world as few of the old monuments escaped the brutal urban communist planning. The palace remains one of the few proofs of the most glorious history of Iasi and the most important tourist attraction of the city.
Iasi has many old churches worth a visit: the Metropolitan Cathedral, Trei Ierarhi, Golia, Galata, and Cetatuia.
For the visiting schedule, check http://palatulculturii.ro.