Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II or Milan Galleria is arguably one of the oldest shopping malls of Italy and the world. Named after the first King of the Kingdom of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II. It took around a dozen years to construct what would be one of the largest fashion hub of the world. It was designed by the architect Giuseppe Mengoni and the construction was completed in the year 1877. The architecture of the Galleria is based on the Renaissance Revival style.
Due to the popularity of Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II or Milan Galleria, it is also referred as ‘il salotto di Milano’, meaning Milan’s Drawing Room. This structure can also be considered as the vision of the modernisation of the center of Milan by King Vittorio Emanuele II.
History and Architecture:
The Galleria was inaugurated in the year 1877, but that was not a smooth task as the architect, who supervised about 1000 people for the Galleria’s project, was found dead under the scaffolding a day prior to the inauguration. The cause of his death remains uncertain; some say he was working last minute on the scaffolding and had a heart attack, while some say he couldn’t take all the criticism for his work and committed suicide. But the reason behind his death just before the inauguration remains a question with no certain answer to it.
The shopping arcade is made up of marbles, glass and iron. Structure of it is designed in cross-shape and has four corridors. The two long ones serves as the passage to connect the Duomo and La Scala Theatre.
The floor of the gallery is mosaic. On the center of the mosaic, the artwork is a homage to Rome, Turin, Florence and Milan. The center mosaic depicts the four coats of arms of the old kingdoms of the above, together known as Italy. Out of the four coats of arm, the one that receives maximum attention is Turin. In the Turin’s coat of arms, there is Taurus the Bull. According to a local tradition, one who places his/her right heel on the bull’s genitals and spins counterclockwise 3 times, receives good luck. The tradition has also caused a deep hole on the mosaic.
As for the roof of the gallery, it made of cast iron and arching glass with the glass dome on the central octagon. It is inspired by the popular arcade designs of 19th century and was designed by Pevsner and Hitchcock.
Facts and lesser known facts about the Milan Galleria:
- In order to prolong the elegance and visual identity of the four storied double arcade shopping center of Milan, all establishments are required to follow certain rules. Rules such as showcasing their brand on a black background with golden letters on it.
- Today it homes the world’s most high-end brands, luxury stores, chains, departmental stores, bars, eateries etc. It is also said to be the fashion capital of the world.
- The widely known brand for its high end clothings and accessories, Prada started its venture at The Galleria. Prada, then Fratelli Prada started its functions as a luggage shop. The first and original store is still present there.
- 1960, the Galleria lost its complexion due to the public protests and student rallies but the arcade managed to reinvent itself. Also the glass roof was heavily damaged during World War II, which later was intervened under multiple maintenance.
- One can also enjoy the walk on the roof of the galleria that is 820 ft long. The Highline Walkway is open to public from 12pm to 3 pm and 5pm to 8pm on weekdays. Whereas on weekends, it is open from 12pm till 9pm and it costs €12 per person.
- The shopping arcade is open 24 hours but the opening hours of the stores varies as per their own functionality.