Palace of Culture

Top choice in Iaşi

Iaşi's premier attraction and symbol of the city is the grandiose Gothic-revival Palace of Culture that dominates the horizon at the southern end of B-dul Ştefan cel Mare şi Sfânt. Though it looks as if it stepped out of a medieval fairy tale, the building is only around 100 years old (built from 1906 to 1925). The palace stands over Prince Alexandru cel Bun's ruined 15th-century princely court. Visitors can tour the palace, climb the tower and explore four major museums.

The project to restore the palace ranks among the largest public-works projects undertaken in Romania since 1989. The building's floor plan covers some 34,000 sq metres and there's said to be 365 rooms (one for each day of the year), though the actual count is around 300. The structure's dominant feature is the central clock tower, with immense clock faces on three sides decorated in stained glass. As you enter, the grand central hall shows off the architect's infatuation – in keeping with the neo-Gothic style – with medieval beasts: dragons, lions and griffons to name a few.

The four main museums are the Ethnographic Museum, Art Museum, History Museum, Science & Technical Museum. It's possible to buy separate entrances to each museum or a discounted combined-entry ticket to the museums and palace.