Architecture / Landmarks

Grand Hotel Traian

Traian Hotel was built at the initiative of Scarlat Pastia, lawyer and mayor of Iași (1877-1879).

The hotel was  built on the place of a former shop he owned at the intersection of Lăpușneanu and Arcu Streets. But the initial project was that of erecting a theater. The construction works lasted for 3 years, during 1879 and 1882, but the costs were so high to the extent they bankrupted the owner. Finally, he lost the building and the other proprieties in the area to his creditors’ profit. Thus, the finalizing of the project was decided, but with the change of its destination into a hotel, much more profitable, and the former mayor Pastia received a room and a daily free meal at the restaurant of Traian Hotel.

The building was constructed after the plans of the renowned French engineer and architect Gustave Eiffel. Scarlat Pastia decided to resort to his services, happy with the quality of the bridge made by Eiffel at Ungheni. The edifice is built on a cast iron frame, with iron beams, a novelty for those times. The building still bears the print of the French eclecticism of the end of the 19th century. The specific elements are the trapezoidal attic, the elegant stucco adornments on the windows, the medallions with the Emperor Traian and the amphoras in the deep niches of the ground floor. Afterwards, Gustave Eiffel was the author of the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Throughout time, the hotel sheltered numerous patriotic and cultural events. In 1884 this is where the banquet celebrating the 21st year of existence of Junimea Literary Society took place, a society founded by young intellectuals in Iași, literature, arts and science enthusiasts. Here, in the same year, took place the commemoration of 100 years of the rebellion of Horea, Cloșca and Crișan, martyrs of the Romanian people. At this event were also present the writers Mihai Eminescu and Ion Creangă. It is said that the writer Ion Luca Caragiale would have read for the first time his work “A lost letter”, in the hotel, on the 24th of October 1884. During the First World War, when Iași became Capital of War, the hotel hosted many ministers and people of culture from Bucharest, fact which determined the locals to call it the “Little Bucharest”. On the 12th of July 1934, during the interwar period, the hotel had as guest the famous Hollywood actress Greta Garbo, but under a fake name. Known for her beauty, called “The Divine” or “The Swedish Sphinx”, Greta Garbo was known in the celebrity world of those days for her unusual relationships and the aura of mystery surrounding her personal life. In the Second World War, the hotel was damaged by bombings, but was repaired and remained a landmark in the Union Square. Nicolae Ceaușescu held some of his speeches towards the locals from the hotel’s balcony, and in 1980 the delegation carrying the Olympic Torch on the way to the Olympics in Moscow was hosted here. The hotel appears in some scenes of the Romanian film “Gruber’s Voyage” (2009), film which presents Romania’s situation in 1941, during the Second World War, and shows for the first time on screen the subject of the Pogrom.

Currently, Grand Hotel Traian is one of the emblematic buildings of Iași, and in 2006, after some investments, the hotel received the four-star ranking. The hotel attracts numerous guests, due to its elegance and the romantic atmosphere created by it. The 68 rooms are equipped with 1900 furniture, three congress halls and business meetings – Eminescu room, Creangă room Caragiale room and a restaurant, comprised of the Classic Hall, White Hall and Cocktail bar. The Eminescu room is dedicated to big festive events.

Photo by Iulian Aruxandei