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When I saw the photo of the Palace of Culture in the guidebook, there was a tower. I didn't know the name, but I thought it was some kind of tower, a beautiful Neo-Gothic tower to be sure, but a tower to the city center. No, it was a full-fledged palace with 365 rooms. Little surprise that it had become the symbol of the city. What would anyone do with 365 rooms? The palace housed four of the city's museums.

No surprise, too, that in front of the palace was a statue of Stephen the Great (1457 - 1504). Steve spent his days warring against the Turks. With a track record of 34 wins, 2 losses, he was dubbed the "Athlete of Christ" by Pope Sixtus IV. That was a pretty good praise for a pope to give a non-Catholic. And even though his cousin massacred 45,000 Turks in one year, nobody ever gave that kind of title to Vlad the Impaler.

Anyway, when the statue of Stephen the Great was commissioned, there was a similar request for another statue in Poland. However, there was a mix-up with the delivery. So, although it was supposed to be a statue of Stephen, and most tourist believed it to be him, the athlete was really hidden away in some other corner of Eastern Europe.


Copyright 2009 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.