Gustave Eiffel in Romania: Trajan Grand Hotel, Iasi

Gustave Eiffel, the famous French engineer and architect that has cast his creative shadow all over the world with great metallic structures and constructions based on metallic frame and prefabricated elements, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Statue of Liberty in New York, has also been present in Romania with two noteworthy projects. The amplest one is the design and construction of the Trajan Grand Hotel in Iasi (1882), the capital of the former principality of Moldova, presented in the photographs bellow, and a railway bridge (1877) over the river Prut, build under the jurisdiction of the Russian Empire, that linked its then frontier province of Bessarabia (the precursor of the contemporary Republic of Moldova) with Romania.

Grand Hotel Trajan Hotel, Iasi, designed and built by Gustave Eiffel in 1882.(©Valentin Mandache, 2009)
The Trajan Hotel in the 1920s, Iasi, north-east Romania (old postcard, Valentin Mandache collection)

The Trajan Hotel is built on a metallic frame structure with prefabricated elements and light weight brick, wood and glass walls. Its architectural style is an avant-garde, industrial-like, Beaux Arts design typical of other of Gustave Eiffel’s edifices. It is a an engineering and architectural marvel of the Victorian era, which is still excellently preserved and maintained by the actual hotel owners and Iasi municipal authorities that seem to realise the crucial importance for the local cultural and architectural identity of this beautiful buildings, a situation which contrasts so much with the indifference and lack of professionalism in this field of their counterparts in Bucharest. The moment of glory for the Trajan Grand Hotel has been during the Great War when it hosted Romania’s government while Iasi became the temporary capital with most of the country occupied by the Central Powers led by the German Empire’s forces. In that extraordinarily dramatic time, the city’s populations swelled ten times to over one million of refugees in the space of just a few weeks, with the Russian allies troops stationed in the territory becoming hostile and disorganised due to their succumbing under the Bolshevik ideology. The patriotic spirit held on and the government, hosted at the Trajan Grand Hotel, together with King Ferdinand, managed to repel both the Bolsheviks and the Germans at the end of the war.


I endeavor through this daily series of daily articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.


If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contactpage of this weblog.