Stefan cel Mare

Suceava, Romania | C.1860

Photo Credit: Christina Fung

Established in 1860, Stefan cel Mare National College is the oldest high school in Suceava, Romania. When Bucovina Romanians expressed the need for a school that taught in the native language, this high school began offering courses. Within 20 years, the entire curriculum was taught in Romanian. This commitment to the country’s native tongue solidified the school’s identity as a respected educational institution.

Originally located at “Ciprian Porumbescu” Art College, the high school’s attendance grew so rapidly that, by the turn of the century, it had to move to a new, larger building. Designed in the baroque architectural style, the new structure is a grand display of ornate stonework, high vaulted windows, sweeping staircases and large corridors.

The school wouldn’t earn the name “Stefan cel Mare” until 1919, when it was renamed after the Romanian ruler Stefan the Great. During the war-torn first half of the 20th century, the school continued to educate the local youth, with many graduates returning to the Stefan cel Mare as teachers.

Celebrated among Romanians for its curriculum rooted in theoretical education and a resistance to communism, the school has produced many Romanian cultural figures including writers, composers and professors. In 2010, it commemorated 150 years of education with a jubilee attended by the Romanian president, government officials and members of the Royal House.

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