Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bucharest - Revolution Square

Date: 9th April 2014

Revolution Square is a square in central Bucharest, seated on the prestigious "Calea Victoriei" (detailed in the next entry). It is Known as Piața Palatului (Palace Square) until 1989 when it was renamed after the 1989 Romanian Revolution.

The former Royal Palace (now the National Museum of Art of Romania), the Athenaeum, the Athenee Palace Hotel, the University of Bucharest Library and the Memorial of Rebirth are located here. The square also houses the building of the former Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party (from where Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife fled by helicopter on December 22, 1989). In 1990, the building became the seat of the Senate and since 2006 it houses the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform.

Closer look of the monument with University of Bucharest as a background photo

Prior to 1948, an equestrian statue of Carol I of Romania stood there. Created in 1930 by the Croatian and American sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, the statue was destroyed in 1948 by the Communists, who never paid damages to the sculptor. In 2005, the Romanian Minister of Culture decided to recreate the destroyed statue from a model that was kept by Mestrovic's family. In 2007, the Bucharest City Hall assigned the project to the sculptor Florin Codre, imitating the design of an original statue of Carol inspired by Mestrovic's model (most consider it a plagiarism).

Carol 1 of Romania statue seated proudly in front of University of Bucharest

National Museum of Art of Romania, a former Royal Palace

In August 1968 and December 1989, the square was the site of a two mass meetings which represented the apogee and the nadir of Ceaușescu's regime. Ceaușescu's speech of 21 August 1968 marked the highest point in Ceaușescu's popularity, when he openly condemned the invasion of Czechoslovakia and started pursuing a policy of independence from Kremlin. Ceaușescu's final speech, 1989 was meant to emulate the 1968 assembly and presented by the official media as a "spontaneous movement of support for Ceaușescu", erupting in the popular revolt which led to the end of the regime.

Old Monastry just across the street from the monument

Seated on the square behind the Carol 1 statue is the University of Bucharest founded in 1864 by decree of Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza to convert the former Saint Sava Academy into the current University of Bucharest. It is the second oldest modern university in Romania.

In the 2012, QS World University Rankings the university was included in Top 700 universities of the world. There are 4 Romanian universities have entered the prestigious top including University of Bucharest. Back in 1694, Constantin Brancoveanu, ruler of Wallachia, had founded the Princely Academy of Saint Sava in Bucharest with lectures delivered in Greek. In 1776, Alexander Ypsilantis, ruler of Wallachia, reformed the curriculum of the Saint Sava Academy, where courses of French, Italian and Latin were now taught. In 1859, the Faculty of Law was created. In 1857, Carol Davila created the National School of Medicine and Pharmacy. In 1857, the foundation stone of the University Palace in Bucharest was laid.

In 1864 Prince Alexander John Cuza created the University of Bucharest, bringing together the Faculties of Law, Sciences and Letters as one single body. In the following years, new faculties were created, Faculty of Theology in 1884, 1906 was the Institute of Geology,the Academic Institute for Electrotechnology in 1913, 1921 the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine was established followed with Faculty of Pharmacy in 1923 and at last in 1924 the Mina Minovici Institute of Forensic Medicine.

In 1956, student leaders, mainly from this university, planned a peaceful protest against Romania's Communist regime but were forcibly prevented from carrying it out. The area around the old University building (the University Square), adjacent to the C. A. Rosetti, Roman, Kogalniceanu, and Union Squares was the scene of many riots, protests and clashes with the security forces during the Romanian Revolution of 1989. During the months of April–June 1990, the University of Bucharest was the centre of anti-communist protests.

Notes on Nicolae Ceaușescu: He was a Romanian communist politician, a General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and Romania's 2nd and last Communist leader. He was also the country's head of state from 1967 to 1989. Ceaușescu's regime was brutal and repressive. His secret police, the Securitate, was one of the most ubiquitous and brutal secret police forces in the world. Ceaușescu’s regime collapsed after he ordered his security forces to fire on anti-government demonstrators which demonstrations spread to Bucharest, known as the Romanian Revolution. Ceaușescu and his wife, Elena were captured by the armed forces and on 25 December 1989, the couple were hastily tried and convicted by a special military tribunal on charges of genocide and sabotage of the Romanian economy in a 2 hour court session. Ceaușescu and his wife were then shot by a firing squad.

Source of information: Wikipedia
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