The English Passage

Pasajul Englez (The English Passage) connects two important streets in downtown of Bucharest: Calea Victoriei and Strada Academiei.

Image from Wikipedia

Its history begins in 1855, when the jeweler Joseph Resch, arrived from Vienna in 1837, built the Resch House on Mogoşoaia Bridge (the former name of Calea Victoriei), located on the spot on that would later elevate the National Theater. The house was bought in 1885 by Grigore Eliade, who turned it in the "English Hotel". On this occasion it was built also the passage, similar to others in the capitals of Western Europe. It was tall (the building having three floors), but very narrow, and was covered with a glass roof on a metal frame. The hotel had a relatively short facade on Calea Victoriei, the majority of the rooms being located along the passage. On both sides of the passage, there is a balcony made of a metal frame closed with window panes. From the hotel name, the passage was called "Pasajul English", then "Pasajul Englez".

The building was a hotel for only a few years. The rooms were too small to withstand competition from other newer hotels. It was transformed into a large luxury brothel. In 1904, the great writer Panait Istrati has worked here for a while, as a valet. Some prominent customers of the brothel were also King Carol II and the dandy (and writer) Alexandru Paleologu. The brothel functioned until 1947 when it was closed and converted into apartments by the communist authorities, which have banned prostitution. The atmosphere of passage served as inspiration for "The Old Court Libertines" by Mateiu Caragiale.