From the Union Square (“Piata Unirii”), an alley leads to the Patriarchy Hill, a site of high symbolic and historic significance. The 17th century Cathedral standing on the small hill in the heart of Bucharest has always been the center of Romanian Orthodox faith and a national symbol.
Several remarkable historical buildings are clustered around the majestic Cathedral. On the South-Eastern side of the plateau can be found the former Palace of the Chamber of Deputies (1904), a monumental portico building with a characteristic dome, which sheltered back in the days the National Assembly, and later the country’s Parliament. On the Western side there is the Patriarchal Palace (1935), residence of the Patriarch, and its Chapel (1723) with the Brancovan style porch. To the East rises the Bell Tower (1698), the only remaining vestige of the original walled precinct.
The Patriarchy Hill witnessed major historic events. It was here that on 24th of January 1859 the Elective Assembly voted The Unification of the Romanian Principalities of Wallachia and Moldova, by choosing Alexander Ioan Cuza as Prince of both countries. On the Patriarchy Hill were later proclaimed the Independence of the country (1878) and the Kingdom (1881).
Aleea Dealul Mitropoliei, no. 25
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Statue of Alexandru Ioan Cuza
The Statue of Alexander John Cuza was unveiled on March 20, 2004, the 184th anniversary of the subject’s birth. Paul Vasilescu was the sculptor. Romanian officials regarded the placing of the statue in Bucharest as the righting of an historical error, given that Romania’s national capital lacked a statue of the country’s first modern ruler. Patriarch Teoctist noted that the location chosen was not random, but linked to the fact that it was on Dealul Mitropoliei that Cuza was elected prince
Chapel of the Patriarchal Palace
The chapel is the most valuable building on Dealul Mitropoliei. Built in the 17th century along with the palace, the chapel was rebuilt in 1723. Its dedication is found on a Greek inscription inside, painted above the door.
When the bell tower (clopotnița) was built, the monastic complex was surrounded by walls, the buildings being located within a yard bounded by these walls. In 1698, Constantin Brâncoveanu ordered the construction of a traditional entrance-gate, that is, in the form of a bell tower. The edifice was restored in 1956-58.
It was beneath this bell tower that Barbu Catargiu, the first Prime Minister of Romania, was assassinated at five o’clock in the evening on June 20, 1862. He had arrived on the hill to give a speech before the Assembly of Deputies, in session in the nearby Palace of the Chamber of Deputies.
The building that is today the Patriarchal Palace was built under Constantin Șerban and was intended to house the monastery’s starets. After 1688, when Radu Leon named the monastery the country’s metropolitan cathedral, the old palace was rebuilt; over time, it was expanded and new wings were added. Between 1932 and 1935 the architect Gheorghe Simotta added a new section to the palace, today its main area, which includes a large throne room, chancelleries, the Patriarch’s apartment and several other rooms.
On the palace walls there is a series of paintings that depicts several scenes in the monastery’s history, as well as from Romanian history. The rooms are decorated with paintings and sculptures representing several of the Patriarchate’s heads. Inside, expensive vestments and objects used in religious services are displayed in glass cases.
Palace of the Chamber of Deputies
The Palace was built in 1907 after the plans of architect Dimitrie Maimarolu, on the site of the princely divan, itself built where a group of old monastic buildings once were. It is build in a neo-classical style, with an 80-metre façade, in the centre of which is a peristyle featuring six Ionic columns. Inside are bronze and marble busts, as well as paintings, of important political figures from Romania’s history. The palace library contains over 11,000 volumes of parliamentary debates, copies of Monitorul Oficial and similar official publications, and over 7,000 books.
The building housed the Chamber of Deputies until 1997, when the lower house of Parliament moved into the Palace of the Parliament. Since that year, the Romanian Patriarchate has administered the palace.