"The Hall of Lost Steps" (The Painted Colonnade)

Here in Iasi, the technical university and the “physical sciences” university main buildings appear to be separate – with separate entrances. Once you’re inside though, you can see that a long colonnaded hallway connects them – a hallway known as “The Hall of Lost Steps.”

The first time I came to Iasi, I had no idea that there was more to the hallway than I realized. At some point, one of my colleagues asked me, “Have you seen the paintings in the hall?” “What paintings???” “Let’s go back downstairs for a few minutes.”

There are paintings, but they are well-hidden. Along the colonnaded hallway, there are arched niches that contain many strikingly beautiful (and deeply allegorical) paintings.

More below the fold.

Some of these paintings are abstract, some are less so. I’ll include some of them below, and make comments when they are useful.

(As on Sunday, all the photos are clickable to allow viewing of the full-sized versions, in order to see more details.)

In this one, Stefan cel Mare still stands guard over Moldavia.

This one is highly allegorical. The “symbol” of Moldavia is the face of a bull; so the little girl riding a bull is somehow supposed to represent the strength of Moldavia.

This one is somewhat bizarre; the legend refers to a “church” but the origin of the legend goes back to pre-Christian times. A group of builders were charged with building a temple, but they kept encountering difficulties that were stopping and ruining the work. Frustrated by the inability to make progress, they consulted someone who was supposed to know about such things; he told them that they would be unable to complete the building of the temple unless the particular wife of one of the particular builders was walled up alive inside the walls of the temple as it was constructed. They did and they managed to finish the building of the temple. But the painting explains the “cost” very clearly.

This one is based on some legend about a woman who was punished by being turned into a mushroom-shaped stone pillar, but I don’t recall the details.

This last one is a compilation on canvas of the “heroes” of the long sweep of Romanian and Moldavian history. The gent glowering down from the very top is a great king of Dacians – the tribe that lived in what is now Romania at the time of the Roman conquest. In the middle are heroes of the medieval Moldavian kingdom – including (of course) on the right Stefan cel Mare. At the bottom are Moldavian peasants.