Pasajul Victoria, the Umbrella Street of Bucharest

Pasajul Victoria's hundreds of colorful umbrellas

photography by: Omri Westmark

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Probably the world's most ubiquitous device for bad weather, umbrellas have been used for centuries as an effective mean to protect ourselves from either strong rain or scorching sunrays. However, in some instances, this utilitarian accessory was taken out of its original context, becoming an architectural ornament. Pasajul Victoriei in Bucharest's old-town boasts dozens of colorful umbrellas that transform this otherwise gritty alleyway into one of the city's unmissable spots among dedicated Instagrammers.

Linking Calea Victoriei with Strada Academiei in the old town of Bucharest, Victoria Passage, or Pasajul Victoriei as it is locally known, is an alleyway that cuts across a residential block. The once lavish building, whose façade is now covered with soot, was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century. At its heyday during the 1940’s, the edifice was home to Bucharest’s first puppet theater and first Chinese restaurant, an upscale perfumery as well as one of the city’s most popular bars, the Mercury Pub.


Since the building was adequately sheltered from bombing, it also became a wartime pilgrimage site for the capital’s rich and famous who flocked in droves to its ritzy premises. Over the years, the building, which spans across Calea Victoriei 48-50, lost much of its prestige together with the surrounding streets, falling into a state of neglect as Bucharest’s center of gravity migrated elsewhere.


In an attempt to revive some of the place’s former glory, local authorities invested over 2 million euros in 2010, renovating its famed passage. The centerpiece of the passage’s modern reincarnation were hundreds of colorful umbrellas, installed as a canopy along its entire route. Combined with the incoming daylight, it swiftly made this unassuming passage an incredibly vivid attraction. Since its colorful facelift, the passage witnessed the opening of several bars and restaurants. But as it seems, the place attracts far more enthusiastic Instagrammers than diners, the former of whom are lured by the zillions of flashy parasols that serve as an exceptional background for their multi-like pics.