The equestrian statue of Carol I
When talking about Revolution Square back in May, I mentioned that prior to 1948 the square also hosted an equestrian statue of King Carol I of Romania. The statue was created in 1939 by the sculptor Ivan Meštrović and destroyed by the communists when they took power in 1948. In 2005 the City Hall decided to recreate the statue and sculptor Florin Codre was assigned to do the work. As of December 6th the king is officially back, mounted on his horse on his old spot in front of the Central University Library.
Central University Library
When the University of Bucharest was created in 1864, there was no central university library; this role was played by the Central State Library of Bucharest until 1895. That institution was moved to and housed in the university building, and in 1867 was specially reorganised for the university’s needs by the scholar August Treboniu Laurian. It had an unmistakable university quality, being governed by a special university committee (including the rector, the faculties’ deans, the school ephor and the chief librarian as secretary), and the deans were always consulted for selection and purchasing. Nevertheless, the need for a proper central university library became increasingly apparent.
The present Central University Library was founded in 1895 as the Carol I Library of the University Foundation. It was built on land bought by King Carol I of Romania for the “Carol I University Foundation” (Fundația Universitară Carol I) and designed by French architect Paul Gottereau. The building was completed in 1893 and opened on 14 March 1895. In 1911, the building was extended by the same architect and the new wing was opened on 9 May 1914. It began with an initial stock of 3,400 volumes of books and periodicals. In 1949 (after its reorganisation on 12 July 1948 as the Central Library of Bucharest University), the collection contained 516,916 volumes; in 1960, about a million; and over 2 million in 1970.
During the Romanian Revolution of 1989, a fire was started in the building and over 500,000 books, along with 3,700 manuscripts, were burnt. Starting in April 1990, the building was repaired and modernized, being reopened on 20 November 2001.