Junii Brasovului


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         “Junii Brasovului” are a group of horsemen from Schei – an old Romanian neighborhood located near the citadel, today a district of Brasov.

Every year during spring they hold a special feast which represents a complex of Christian Orthodox traditions and pre-Christian rituals inherited from distant ancestors. The spring ritual is related to the ancient cult of the Sun which was joined with the resurrection of Christ – both signifying the renewal of life.

The spring ritual was forbidden in 1949 through a decree signed by Ana Pauker but was reintroduced by Nicolae Ceausescu in 1967.


The Juni on a visit to Bucharest in front of the Romanian Atenaeum (dated 1971). The Juni ritual was forbidden in 1949 through a decree signed by Ana Pauker but was reintroduced by Nicolae Ceausescu in 1967.


The Juni on a visit to Bucharest in front of the Romanian Government (dated 1970). The Juni ritual was forbidden in 1949 through a decree signed by Ana Pauker but was reintroduced by Nicolae Ceausescu in 1967.





Brasov’s old citadel, located at the mouth of the mountain valley near Bârsa plains

Brasov citadel, situated on a commercial route at the border of Vallachia and Transylvania, was a flourishing trading center. The citadel was built at the mouth of a mountain valley. During the Saxon rule of the 13th to 17th century following the Unio Trium Nationum military pact, Romanians lost their civil rights while Saxon merchants and Hungarian nobility gained privileges. In Brasov they were forbidden from owning property inside the fortress. Called Vallachians at the time, they were living outside the wall in the neighborhood named Schei, also called Obere Vorstadt (Upper Suburb) or Wallachische Vorstadt (Vallachian Suburb) by Germans.

Aerial panorama of Brasov - the old citadel is located at the mouth of the valley, with Blumenau and Alstadt suburbs nearby. On the opposite side - Schei is located further down the valley between mountains.

Aerial panorama of Brasov – the old citadel is located at the mouth of the valley, with Blumenau and Altstadt suburbs nearby. On the opposite side – Schei is located further down the valley between mountains.


View from Tampa mountain over Brasov’s old citadel and its Saxon and Hungarian suburbs. Behind it is the Bârsa plain (Câmpia Bârsei).


View from Tampa mountain over Schei (right), Romanian suburb near Brasov’s main citadel. From Schei onward begins the long Carpathian mountain chain, visible in the background. Left of Tampa is a newly built district in a narrow valley.


Baedeker guide (year 1896) shows the old Brasov (Kronstadt) citadel with the suburbs of Schei (Obere Vorstadt), Blumenau and Alstadt

Old photo taken from Schei, with Brasov in the background

Old photo taken above Schei district, with Brasov in the far background

Schei is located in the south of the citadel, in between mountains. On the opposite side of the citadel, the Hungarian-Saxon populations were living in two neighborhoods: Blumenau (Blumana in Romanian) inhabited by Hungarians, Altstadt (inhabited by German farmers).


The Juni and pre-Christian paganism


“Juni” is an old word that means “young unmarried men”. Juni may also be called “feciori” which has the same meaning. In Brasov in particular, Juni applies to men of all ages, divided into married (old juni) or unmarried (young juni).

Although the Juni of Brasov have their specific ways of celebration, the Juni groups are found all throughout Romania. Up until recently, most Romanian villages had Juni groups but the forced urbanization, in addition with new EU laws which limited horse riding, has had a negative effect on these traditions.


Juni from Mandra in 1928


Fagaras Juni

Juni from Gura Raului

Juni from Gura Raului

The young men of a community reunite in a group called “ceata” (ceata de feciori, ceata de juni) during the winter solstice and spring when they perform pre-Christian songs and rituals; the purpose of these rituals is to help perpetuate fertility during winter, and to celebrate the return of the sun during spring. Only in recent times did the Christian element blend with the pagan traditions in such a manner that today they coincide with the main Christian holidays – Christmas and Easter.

Fagaras Juni (called Feciori in the region)


The pre-Christian rituals are still alive all across Romania and are often practiced alongside Christian holidays. German chronicler Julius Teutsch, who observed the Brasov Juni rituals, concluded that they were remnant of an “ancient pre-Christian era” and said these traditions can be seen everywhere across the mountain hills since Dacian times.


Archive photos of Juni ceremonies


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In Brasov, an old custom practiced by the Romanian community which is related to the ancient cult of the sun: on the day of Descent of the Holly Spirit (called Rusalii in Romanian) men, women and children of Schei left in the evening for Mount Postăvarul (a few km from the village) after men knocked from door to door, using a hammer designed as a serpent to knock on each gate. On the mountain they waited until morning when the sun appeared in order to throw what they had on hand towards the sun, lest the “werewolves” stole the sun.


Dacians believed that the life-giving sun was swollen by dragons during winter; the same motif can be found in the Thracian Horseman depiction where a man on a horse fights off a dragon (in pre-Christian mythology, the horse is associated with sun and summer, and the wolf/ werewolf associated with winter).

The presence of horses is not accidental; the animal always played a vital role in popular folk since time immemorial – the horse was believed to be pulling the Sun Chariot across the sky, bringing with it the life-giving sun and assuring fertility for the new year. The Dacians celebrated this cult in the spring, when the Brasov Juni also celebrate it in order to mark the renewal of nature and the beginning of new life, whose significance was intertwined with the revival of Christ. The horse is venerated in various ways across the country, such as Boboteaza Cailor (The christening of horses).





Although the meaning of “June” is “young unmarried son“, the Brasov ceremony reunites all men. The young unmarried men are picked up from their family homes by organized groups of men of all ages, and for the following days they play out a series of rituals and traditions.


Traditional "Surla" which announces the arrival of spring. A leading man with surla stands in front of the Juni ceremonial walk

Traditional “Surla” which announces the arrival of spring. A leading man with surla stands in front of the Juni ceremonial walk

The ceremony begins Monday early morning and ends one week later on the first Sunday after the Orthodox Easter (Duminica Tomii). On day one, the young men visit the homes of young unmarried girls. On the last day, they have the ceremonial walk on horseback through the city, which ends at Solomon’s Rocks, located 2 km from Schei.




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The men are divided in 7 traditional groups, number based on the religious belief that God made the world in 7 days. Every group has its own costumes and the leader of each group carries a scepter with a traditional flag and a tricolor ribbon (colors of the Romanian flag), which signify dignity and bravery.

The leading group is wearing the traditional costume of Romanians (“Vallachians”) of Brasov. Their hat is tailored after the model of Michael the Brave’s hat (Vallachian prince who first united the 3 principalities in 1600) and is worn by 4 of the 7 groups of men.


The hat is tailored after the model of Vallachian prince Michael the Brave’s hat and is worn by 4 of the 7 groups of men.






One of the Juni rituals, which takes place on Thursday, includes “aruncatul in țol” where the young men are thrown in the air 3 times.



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On the last day, the Juni have the ceremonial walk on horseback through the city which ends at Solomon’s Rocks, located 2 km from Schei.


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Historic mentions of the “Vallachians”


In 1842, Georg Gottlieb Schnell published a series of costume litographies that included the Romanians of Schei, Brasov. Referred to as Vallachians at the time –  “Vallachian from the neighborhood of Brasov” – the neighborhood being Schei, located outside the city walls at the time.


“Vallachian from the neighborhood of Brasov” 1842 by Georg Gottlieb Schnell. The Vallachian is wearing a traditional Romanian Suman coat over the costume

Romanians were refereed to as Vallachians (Wallach) by Saxons and other foreigners (“Wallach” was a Germanic word used by foreigners to define Latin speaking populations of Eastern Europe – found in Vallachia, Moldavia, Transylvania).

Antonio Possevino described the main commercial settlements of Transylvania in his 1584 manuscript “Transilvania”: when mentioning Brasov (called Corona in latin), he mentions the main fortified citadel inhabited by Saxon merchants, surrounded by 3 suburbs with Hungarians, Romanians and Saxon farmers. He calls Brasov small but flourishing due to its strategic location, with commercial ties with just about everyone.

Ludwig Binder’s book “Johannes Hunterus. Schriften, Briefe, Zeugnisse” (chapter 16) contains a medieval century letter from Johannes Honter (Saxon humanist who lived and died in Brasov) who described Brasov and three main communities living near it: Romanians in Schei, Hungarians, Saxon farmers (the inner fortress allowed only Saxon merchants and the upper class).


St. Nicholas church of Schei

In the book “Das Alt und Neu Teutsche Dacia” published in 1666, Saxon historian Johannes Tröster described the Romanians (Rumunyi) of then-Transylvania as an oppressed people with no rights, whose settlements are located in the mountains or near Hungarian/ Saxon towns. He acknowledged the surprising latinity of these “simple uneducated peasants”. He went on to transcribe from hearing a few Vallachian phrases in order to prove the latin substratum, phrases which are perfectly intelligible with modern Romanian. He also described their religion as identical to that of “Russians and Moscovites” (Christian-Orthodox).




Schei suburb in Brasov


The old Brasov was divided into Kronstandt or Corona (the main citadel) and 3 neighboring suburbs: Altstadt (Brasovechi in Romanian) inhabited by Saxons, Bulemnau (Blumana in Romanian) inhabited by Hungarians, and Schei (the Vallachian Upper Suburb – Wallachische or Obere Vorstadt). After the Saxons and Hungarians were converted from Catholic to Lutheran church, the Evangelical Blumenau Church was built on the place of a Catholic church to serve them.


Sf. Nicolae orthodox church in Schei, first dated in 1292.





The Christian Orthodox church Sf. Nicolae (St. Nicholas) from Schei served the Romanian community for centuries. First dated as a church settlement in 1292, its one of the oldest Orthodox churches in Transylvania. The first stone church was built in 1495 by then-prince of Vallachia.

From 1556 the first Romanian books were printed here. Next to the church is the first Romanian school, started in 1583.




The Romanians from Schei could only enter Brasov citadel at certain hours and had to pay a toll at the gate for selling their produce inside the citadel; they entered on horseback through Ecaterina Gate (closed in 1820), also called Porta Vallace or Vallah’s Gate, as it was the only entrance for the “Vallachians”. Another gate was built for them in 1820, called Poarta Târgul Cailor (Horse Fair Gate).  Still too small, the larger Schei Gate (Poarta Schei) was built in 1827 to fit the growing needs of the Schei population.

Schei Gate is still being used by Juni during their ceremonial walk when they come down from Schei towards the main city.


Ecaterina gate, the first gate used by Schei people to enter the citadel. A bigger gate was built but still too small, it was replaced by a third gate simply called Schei Gate.


Poarta Târgul Cailor (Horse Fair Gate), the second gate built for Schei people. Dismantled a few years later.


Schei Gate and Ecaterina Gate, the later less visible today from this angle due to the trees.


Schei Gate today – with view towards the old Brasov citadel


View of Schei from Tampa mountain

View of Schei from Tampa mountain


St. Nicholas church of Schei, the epicenter of the Romanian community



In the XIX century, a second Orthodox church was built in Schei, called Biserica Sf. Treime

In the XIX century a second Christian Orthodox church was built in Schei, called Biserica Sf. Treime



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Schei village is located in a long deep mountain valley, crossed by multiple rivers and creeks. Because of this, the village numbered over 20 water mills in the XIX century which spread all the way to Solomon’s Rocks. The street that lead to Solomon’s Rocks was called the Valley of the Water Mills (Valea Morilor).

One of the 20 plus water mills from Schei

One of the 20 plus water mills from Schei


“Capul satului” (the end of the village), when the settlement spread along Solomon river all the way up to Solomon’s Keys.

Back to when the village spread to Somonon's Rocks

Houses near Solomon’s Rocks in the early XXth century



Up until early the XXth century tourism developed, the old Schei village used to spread along Solomon river up to Solomon’s Rocks. The old houses of Schei have traditional Romanian wooden gates, some dating back to the XVII century; they are sculpted with astronomical motifs that are believed to protect the house. Some of the deteriorated wooden gates were replaced with metal gates.


The traditional Romanian wooden gates


Solar motifs stemming from ancient pre-Christian belief in the cult of the sun, much like the pre-Christian traditions still practiced today by the Juni.



Old Schei streets with traditional Romanian wooden gates


Old Schei suburb during winter, with St. Nicholas church in the background


Orchards of Schei up on the hills

Orchards of Schei today

Orchards of Schei today

Gradina lui Timan in Schei, where families used to gather

Gradina lui Timan in Schei – where families and groups of Juni gather for generations




Unlike the men of Schei who kept the traditional Romanian costume pieces, the Schei women’s clothing had a strong urban influence which reflected the community’s proximity to a flourishing commercial center.


The white blouse and veil are made of Borangic (natural Romanian silk)


View of Schei from Tampa mountain

View of Schei from Tampa mountain


1947 – NKVD directives for occupied eastern Europe


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“The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history.

Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster.” (Milan Hubl)


Sources  – Opresiunea cultelor religioase din Romania în timpul dictaturii comuniste (Romanian)

 – 45 zasad zniewolenia Polski powojennej (Polish)

 – A leigázás 45 alapelve (Hungarian)


A secret documented unearthed in 1981 – entitled Moscow 02.06.1947 (Top Secret) K-AA/CC113, indication NK/003/47 – reveals the directives from Kremlin concerning the occupied countries of eastern Europe and east Germany. The document was elaborated by Laurent Beria, head of the NKVD, and was released on June 2, 1947.

According to the 1945 Yalta agreement signed by US president Truman, UK prime-minister Churchill and Soviet leader Stalin, the agreed Soviet presence did not imply the occupation or oppression of eastern Europe countries. The following document proves otherwise.

Soviet Union Eastern Europe occupation 1945 communism YaltaIn 1939, following a secret pact with Hitler, the USSR invaded and occupied Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Poland. After being briefly liberated, the Baltic states and eastern Romania were re-occupied in 1944 and were forcefully incorporated into the USSR.

After the 1945 Yalta agreement with the Western Allies, the USSR proceeded to officially occupy Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and east Germany. The occupation lasted for over a decade until the Soviet troops retreated. From the 1960’s onward, the eastern European states remained under the influence of Kremlin, with the ever-present threat of Soviet invasion and aggression.

the military presence also served to intimidate, suppress and control the local population.

Latvia 1945 – the Soviet military presence served to intimidate, suppress and control the local population.

Draugas newspaper headline "Russia occupies Lithuania"

Lithuanian Draugas newspaper headline in 1940: “Russia occupies Lithuania”

Hidden behind the myriad of political ideology and legitimized by mutual agreements with Western governments (see Yalta 1945), these foreign entities were given free hand at perpetrating acts that violated international law:

– undermining the national economy

– crimes against humanity

– violation of national sovereignty

– threat to the security of the state

– threat to public health

– theft of state and private property

– destruction and theft of cultural relics

– undermining environmental protection.

The perpetrators have yet to be held accountable..

Estonia 1939 - Soviet troops invade and occupy Estonia

1939 – Soviet troops invade and occupy Estonia.

Soviet occupation of eastern Romania

Soviet occupation of eastern Romania.

Soviet troops in combat during the battle for the occupation of Budapest, Hungary - 1945

Soviet troops in combat during the battle for the occupation of Budapest, Hungary – 1945.

Soviet command center in Budapest Hungary - 1945

Soviet command center in Budapest, Hungary – 1945.

The directives sought to purposely compromise/ destroy the economy, industries (except the mining industry), education, health, culture, justice, transportation, military, public services, impoverish the population and physically eliminate all the opponents of the Soviet presence and its politics.

The government, public administration, factories and all economic units were to be secretly run and coordinated by agents from Kremlin or by their secret collaborators.

Red Army occupies Bucharest Romania

After repeated Anglo-American bomb attacks over Bucharest’ civilian targets, the Red Army occupies the capital city of Romania in 1944.


The 1947 document contained a total of 45 directives:

1. It is forbidden to receive on the territory of the embassies locals detected by us as informers. The meetings with these persons is organized by our special services designated for this purpose, and the meetings can only take place in public places. Information is received by the embassy through our special bodies, in this case with our officer handing them to the highest degree from the embassy.

2. No relation between our soldiers and the civilian population is allowed. It is forbidden for our officers to visit locals; it is also forbidden that soldiers establish relationships with local women. Do not allow relations between our soldiers and civilians or local soldiers.

3. The citizens who maintain ties with the Polish Communist Party, Polish Socialist Party, with the Communist Youth Organization, the Polish Home Army and other associations – will be liquidated. For this purpose you will make use of the military.

4. Military actions will taken by the soldiers who stayed on our territory (the Soviet Union) before entering the Kościuszko Army. We seek its complete destruction.

5. The unification of all parties into one party needs to be accelerated, making sure that all the key roles go to persons who work for our secret services.

6. Youth organizations must be unified quickly. From leaders of local organizations all the way up to leadership positions, all positions must be allocated to persons appointed by our special services.

7. Officials elected as deputies in the congress shall not be allowed to keep their mandate throughout the entire period of the election. Parliamentarians cannot, under any circumstances, call for meetings between companies/ businesses. If there is no way to avoid such meetings, all must be done to remove the presence of people who may come up with new concepts, or try to protect the public demands. Private initiatives must be completely eliminated. For every congress, special persons must be prepared and only those working for our secret services.

8. Special attention will be given to persons with good organizational skills and popularity. These people must be hired and, if they refuse our cooperation, their access to higher-level positions will be blocked.

9. All government workers, with the exception of those working in the mining industry and for our special services, must receive low wages. This refers especially to health, justice, culture, and those who hold leadership positions.

10. We must have collaborators in all government bodies, including factories, without the knowledge of the local administration bodies.

11. The local mass-media will not be allowed to publish data regarding the quality of the goods transported to us (USSR). Under no circumstances should this activity be called “commerce”. This activity will be called “commodity exchange”.

12. Constant pressure must be made on public services in order for them to not release documents proving land ownership; the only released documents will be those that prove the quality of the land, but never the property holder.

13. The policy towards the small family farm will seek to make it an unprofitable household. Then, collectivization must begin. If great resistance from the peasants is met, their assigned means of production must be reduced, while at the same time increasing their state quota (obligations towards the state). If this method doesn’t work, agriculture must be organized in such a manner that it cannot ensure the national food supply anymore, forcing the country into imports.

14. Everything must be done so that all public decisions and orders – either those of legal, economic or organizational nature – must always be adopted with delay.

15. Everything must be done for certain cases to be discussed simultaneously by several committees, offices and institutions, but none of them have the right to take a final decision before consulting with the other (exception cases aimed at mines industry).

16. The workers unions cannot exert any influence on the activity of the factory. Their only purpose is to put into practice the decisions of the higher management.

17. Trade unions have no right to resist any decision taken by the management. Unions must get involved only in minor issues like: public holidays, applications for pensions and loans, cultural and entertainment activities, trips, allocation of goods and the justification of decisions taken by the leadership.

18. The only leaders who should be promoted hierarchically are those who flawlessly execute all orders given to them, without questioning anything.

19. All local political, administrative or state leaders must be compromised in front of their employees in such a way that it becomes impossible for them to return to their original entourage.

20. Local military staff may be entrusted with leadership positions in places where our special services are already infiltrated.

21. For each armed action and firing exercise, the amount of the ammunition will be permanently monitored regardless of the type of weapon.

22. All research institutes and laboratories must be monitored, keeping records of any valuable research.

23. Special attention must be paid to inventors, innovators, and their work supported and developed, but every invention must be recorded at the center. The only research that it permitted is research applicable within the mining industry, or research that has our special indications. Inventions that ensure increased production of finished goods and ,in parallel, the decrease in extraction of raw materials, are forbidden. If an invention has become public, it must be sold abroad in western currency, using the justification that it’s too expensive to implement in the country. Documents containing data regarding the value and the description of the invention will never be published. All data and documents concerning the value and the detailed description of the invention will come into our possession.

24. Punctuality regarding shipments of any kind must be disrupted (except those included in the N. K. – 552-46 regulations).

25. Various training sessions and conferences must be initiated in factories, proposals and observations must be written down along with their respective authors.

26. Public talks must be initiated with factory workers dealing with current issues related to production, namely those that highlight negative past issues. The causes of the phenomena must also come into question.

27. Views expressed by the local leaderships may have national or historical reasoning, but they cannot lead to national unity.

28. Attention should be paid so that the water network of cities cannot be disconnected from the main water network. Old drainpipes and wells must be systematically liquidated.

29. Reconstruction of industrial sites and the construction of new ones must be organized in such a manner that all residual materials will be be dumped into water deposits that could be used as drinking water reserves.

30. In rebuilt cities or newly built housing facilities, it is no longer allowed to have any surplus space that could be used to shelter animals or store food reserves.

31. Private enterprises, small artisans and small industrialists shall only receive materials and equipment that lead to poor quality production. The final price of their goods must also be higher than the price of similar products made by the state.

32. State bureaucracy must be expanded at the highest level in all areas. Criticism regarding the poor functioning of the public administration is allowed, but the reduction of the number of staff nor the normal functioning of the bureaucracy will not be allowed.

33. Great care should be given to all manufacturing projects from the mining industry, especially enterprises targeted by us. A good supply to the internal market must be prevented.

34. Special attention should be paid to churches. Cultural-educational activity must be conducted so as to result in general antipathy towards them. All church printers, archives, content of sermons, songs, religious education, but also at the funeral ceremonies must be scrutinized.

35. All valuable teachers from elementary schools, colleges and universities must be removed, especially those who enjoy popularity. Their seats must be filled by people appointed by us, who have a weak or mediocre level of training. The differences between disciplines must be analyzed in order to reduce the amount of documentation material; high schools will stop teaching Latin and old Greek, philosophy, logic and genetics. History textbooks must not mention rulers who served in the best interest of the country. They will insist on the greed and wickedness of any ruler, on the negative effect of the monarchy and the oppressed people’s struggle. In specialized schools, specialization will be narrowed down.

36. Artistic or sporting activities will be organized in order to celebrate the local fight against invaders (insisting on Germans, excluding Russians) and to popularize the struggle for socialism.

37. It is prohibited to publicize any information regarding locals who lived on our territory (USSR) before the revolution or during the Second World War, or who fought with us during the war.

38. If any local organization is created in order to support the alliance with us, but also insist on working in economic management or the government, we must immediately start a campaign by indicting nationalism and chauvinism. This must be done following these steps: the desecrate of monuments that belong to us, destroy cemeteries, distribute manifestos that denigrate our nation and our culture and doubting the value of contracts signed with us. Locals must be involved in the propaganda work, using the hatred that exists against those organizations.

39. Special attention will be given to the construction and reconstruction of roads, bridges, pathways and networks, regardless of how remote or inaccessible they are, in order to facilitate possible military interventions, and to access any military resistance from all sides.

40. All political opponents must be jailed. All possible means will be used to try to recruit opponents who enjoys respect from the local population. If they dont join us, they will be compromised through smear campaigns. Before they become engraved in the consciousness of the masses, they must be liquidated through “unforeseen events” (contingency) or be imprisoned on charges of common crimes. Only in very special cases will political trials be allowed, which will be held on charges of “high treason”.

41. The rehabilitation of political convicts is forbidden. If a rehabilitation is inevitable, it will be allowed only provided that the case be considered a judicial mistake. The convict will not be judged, only pardoned; the trial wont be resumed and the authors of the wrong judgment will never be summoned.

42. Public criticism or prosecution of leaders (appointed by the communist party) who caused losses or dissatisfaction among the employees, is prohibited. In drastic cases, they will be removed from office and then re-appointed in similar or higher positions. Lastly, they will be placed in leadership positions or put in reserve for future subsequent changes.

43. The public will be notified of public trials against people (primarily the military, deputies, important public services, teachers) who will stand accused of wrong attitude against the people, against socialism and industrialization. It’s an action that draws the attention of the masses.

44. Those who occupy various low positions will be replaced by workers with the least training, or unqualified.

45. Priority to colleges and universities will be given almost exclusively to those who come from the lowest social classes, who are not interested to improve professionally to the highest level and who only seek to receive a diploma.




Culture Palace, Iasi (Palatul Culturii)


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Romania Iasi palace of culture romanians beautiful eastern european cities palaces

Romania Iasi palace of culture romanians beautiful eastern europe cities palaces

The Palace of Culture fom Iasi hosts 4 museum: the Museum of Art, the Museum of History, the Museum of Ethnography and the Museum of Science and Technology.


The palace is built on the foundation of the 1450 Royal Court, whose remains are conserved below the building.

 Romania Iasi Culture palace romanian palaces castle architecture romanian people

Palace of Culture Iasi Romania Moldavia romanian people culture romanians palaces europe

 Palace of Culture Iasi Romania Moldova romanian palaces romanians people culture


Statue of king Stephen the Great of Moldavia

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