The twin semi-circular buildings in Piata Universitatii which are in many ways the entrance to the Old Town were built in 1906 to serve as the headquarters of Romania’s largest insurance company. In front of them are four statues, of Gheorghe Lazar (founder, in 1818, of the first Romanian school in Bucharest), Ion Heliade Radulescu (a founding member of the Romanian Academy), Mihai Voievod Viteazul (the first person to unite the three Romanian provinces, in 1600) and Spiru Haret (a mathematician, astronomer and politician who as education minister in the 1880s and 1890s created the foundations of the modern Romanian education system).
Opposite is the university building itself, constructed over a twelve year period from 1857 to 1869 at the behest of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, at the time Prince of Romania. It originally housed three faculties (Law, Humanities and Science), but today houses just the Faculty of Letters and Languages, as well as the university’s administrative departments. The central corp of the building was entirely rebuilt in the late 1940s after it was destroyed during heavy allied bombing in 1944. Though rebuilt as an exact replica of the original, many sculptures and basreliefs by Carol Storck were deemed irreplaceable and lost forever.
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