The Palace of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, symbol of the city, was witnessed the Union of the Principalities, being named “Museum of the Union” in 1959, on the centenary of Romania’s birth.
It was built in 1806 by Constantin Catargi. After 1827, C. Paladi lived there, candidate to the throne and the first commander of the Earthly Militia (National Army), founded in 1830. The building became the residence of Mihalache Cantacuzino-Pașcanu and hosted the meeting of the unionists (Vasile Alecsandri, Costache Negri, Mihail Kogălniceanu) since the time of Prince Grigore Al.Ghica Vodă. In 1856, the founding act of the Union Committee was signed here. As an irony, in the building across the street, now hosting the U.A.P.R. art galleries, the most important anti-unionists were frequently meeting: Nicolae Istrati, Gheorghe Asachi and Costache Negruzzi, who were fervently sustaining that moving the capital to Bucharest will mean the city’s decline, the isolation and poverty of Moldavia.
For three years (1859-1862) the palace became the residence of the first prince of the United Principalities, Alexandru Ioan Cuza. Cuza signed here the famous declaration through which the permanent Union of Principalities was proclaimed, on the 11th of December 1861, after the approval of the Ottoman Empire.
After the permanent move of the capital to Bucharest in 1862, the palace served as residence for its rightful owner, Ecaterina Ghica. In 1886, the building was sold to the Urban Credit Society in Iași and the ground floor rooms became elegant shops. During the First World War, the palace was the residence of King Ferdinand I and in 1937 the Museum “Cuza-Vodă Palace” was founded on the first floor, at the initiative of the historian Nicolae Iorga.
The building follows the lines of the Neoclassical style. On the façade modified in 1872 we can see the monogram of Ecaterina Ghica in the balcony’s fittings and the coat of arms of the Ghica-Comănești family on the gable. The massive telamons which are metaphorically holding on their shoulders the weight of the sky have inspired the great poet Mihai Eminescu to state that “when I see them, I feel how history of the Romanian people is crushing me”. The interior is decorated with Renaissance and Baroque elements, the central hallway has gilded decorations and the arcades of doors are adorned with acanthus leaves.
The ground floor shows various aspects of the Union epoch (the double election, partizans of the Union, reforming politics) and the palace’s history, and it hosts numerous cultural events. In the hallway, the painting “Hora Unirii” by Constache Agafiței illustrates the events of January 1859 which took place in front of the former Bacalu’s Inn in the current Union Square. The first floor is dedicated to the princely apartments – the working offices of the Prince and the Lady Elena Cuza, the living room, the hall, the billiard room, the Lady’s salon and the bedroom.
Visiting hours: TUESDAY – SUNDAY: 10:00 – 17:00
Elena Cuza – the Great Lady of Romania
Elena Rosetti (born in 1825 in Solești, Vaslui) receives a special education since childhood, which ensures her place in the high society of Moldavia’s capital. In 1844, she meets Alexandru Ioan Cuza in Iași and dedicates herself entirely to the marriage. Being an introvert, living besides a harsh husband, she accepts with great sacrifices the burden of the princely crown and her husband’s infidelities. With love and diplomacy, she supports him in crucial moments such as his arrest during the 1848 Revolution and his crowning as Prince of Moldavia and Wallachia in 1859. With the same motherly dedication, she accepted to raise the two illegitimate sons of the prince and was concerned with the problems of orphans and women.