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Sunday, 15 January 2017

Iasi - Urban Legend: Polish Statue of Stephen The Great

Dearest hearts,

There are more connections than one would think between my homeland Romania and my "adoptive" country Poland. As you may (not) know I live in Krakow, Poland, for more than 5 years now. I come from Iasi, a rather historical center that has been long forgotten. It also was the capital of the country for a while ;) but people tend to forget that and praise Bucharest... nevermind that! I wish to share with you today a story about these two fine countries. There are more than 130 years since Stephen the Great (ro: Stefan cel Mare) had its statue placed in front of the Palace of Culture in Iasi. The statue was done by a renowned French sculpture maker, Emmanuel Fremiet, and ever since it was brought to Iasi it has sparked a lot of intrigues and a certain urban legend that I will share with you ;) 
The Palace of Culture in Iasi and the statue of Stephen the Great (Stefan cel Mare), ruler of Moldavia
This legend states that Stephen would actually not be Stephen the Great but a Polish knight that would have requested a similar statue at the exact same time from the same sculptor. It's also being said that the Stephen the Great statue was brought instead to the Polish knight and that now it resides in Krakow. Truly, in Krakow, there are 2 statues of males riding on horses, statues that resemble the looks of Stephen the Great. But let's come back to the statue that is located in front of the Palace of Culture in Iasi. It is made out of bronze and it's 4,5 meters tall. The male upon the horse has a beard and a Catholic crown resting upon its head. Because back then there was no model for the crown of Moldavia, the sculptor used the model of a Catholic one. This sparked a lot of controversy considering that Moldavia (Romania) was always an Orthodox land ;)
The specialist infirm this rumour and say it was a simple misunderstanding in terms of how Stephen the Great looked vs. how Emmanuel Fremiet portrayed him. Maybe he just had too much wine and fromage and got carried away in the artistic spirit. Looking on the 2 supposed Stephen the Great from Krakow (the one from the Grunwald monument in Plac Jan Matejko & the one from the Wawel Castle) I really don't think it's any of them... but neither the one in front of the Palace of Culture in Iasi does not look like him... What are your thoughts on this? Do you think the statues were misplaced? Or just the sculptor took too much liberty with his piece of art?

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Urban Legends