The Villacrosse Passage
Today packed with cafes - most of which offer hookah pipes and exotic tobaccos - the Villacrosse Passage was built in 1891 as a shopping conduit between Calea Victoriei - then the busiest street in the city - and Bucharest's financial quarter, located above the Old Town. It is named for a Catalan architect, Xavier Villacrosse, who from 1840-50 was the chief architect of Bucharest.
The Passage is covered with an arcade yellow glass roof to allow natural light, also intended to encourage commerce at street level. The ground floor was meant for shops, while the rooms on the first floor were for rent. And yes, this was Bucharest’s first shopping mall.