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CA1 1LA, England, United Kingdom
January 1, 2011
From journal Surprisingly interesting Brussels
April 25, 2005
Galeries Saint-Hubert was built in 1848 and is well-known for the beauty of its architecture in addition to its place as the first indoor mall. Instead of the traditional roof you would see in many of the malls around here, Galleries Saint-Hubert has a glass room. It allowed for the different shops along the street to be joined together and protected from the elements (think rain - it is Belgium after all). Due to the fact that the roof is actually a series of glass arches, it allows sunlight in (when there is some) and creates a nice glow to the area. If you travel around Europe, you will notice this design in some other prominent cities, most notably Milan, where you feel like you are looking at the same mall.
There are three different areas of Galeries Saint-Hubert where the influence from the Italian Renaissance appears everywhere. The majority of the work is a rose color, and there are large windows everywhere. Take a few minutes to look around; this is truly an amazing bit of architecture.
Now onto the shopping! Most of Galeries Saint-Hubert shops are post boutiques that only the rich can afford to shop at. Yet, there is also a day spa located within the Galeries Saint-Hubert, bookstores, a theater, a movie theater, and much more. Most notable perhaps is the flagship shop for Neuhaus chocolates, some of Belgium’s most divine creations. I would suggest going in and trying a bonbon or two.
In addition to a copious amount of shops, there are also some very elegant cafés and restaurants located in here. While both may be a little pricier than the average Belgium establishment, think of the fact that you are having a cup of coffee or some mussels in the first shopping mall in the world. In addition, here you can always sit outside and enjoy the weather, because there is no threat of rain (and many establishments have small heaters for their outside patios). I would strongly suggest taking a moment here and relaxing and looking around. Here, you will see everyone, from Brussels wealthiest to tourists. Sit back and enjoy.
Finally, when you are lingering over your wine or coffee, look up to the second floor. These are apartments that are rented out and actually inhabited in by individuals. It was one of the goals of the Galleries Saint-Hubert to mix commerce and people or the private sector. Therefore, they built the apartments above the shops; they are some of Brussels most coveted pieces of real estate today.
While you may not do as much shopping as you thought at the Galleries Saint-Hubert, you will walk through a slice of history.
From journal Sensory Delight: Brussels, Belgium
June 16, 2004
From journal Must-See Brussels
April 20, 2004
The use of the glass arcades was a technological advancement that allowed for the unification of what otherwise would be a regular street of shops into a cohesive whole. The threat of poor weather would be eliminated in a covered environment, yet the glass allowed sunlight to penetrate into the street level below and allow for a more pleasant atmosphere. This was important, because the weather in Brussels can be frequently gray and gloomy. This design set the table for later developments, such as the vaunted Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. Unfortunately, the concept eventually was bastardized by the typically ghastly American suburban shopping centers.
Galeries Saint-Hubert actually is composed of three arcades: the Galeries du Roi (King’s Gallery), the Galerie de la Reine (Queen’s Gallery), and the smaller Galeries des Princes (Princes’ Gallery). The elegant mauve-hued elevations are Italian Renaissance in appearance with three levels of pilastered and Palladian windows. The semicircular glazed vaulting is supported by thin metal frames. This allows for the end facades to take on a particularly attractive shape and appearance, with classical statues in niches peering over the shoppers below. The ground is laid with thick stone pavers that have endured heavy foot traffic over the years. It is said that the pavers need to be replaced soon because they are approaching the thin side, but the risk of closing off sections for construction is that business would be heavily dampened.
The motto “Omnibus omnia” (“Everything for everybody”) appears above one of the entrances. The shops here include famous bookstores that have been there seemingly forever, swanky cafes and luxury goods emporiums. There are other outlets in town selling the great Neuhaus Belgian chocolates, but the shop here is credited as the location where the first praline was invented. The upper levels house apartments for lucky locals. I am told that the rent is not terribly expensive, but the waiting list to live in one of these apartments is extraordinarily long.
A recent development within the Galeries is “Brussels On Stage,” sort of a multimedia exhibition with fifteen scenes that review the history of Brussels for visitors. This tourist attraction is wrapped around an intimate vaudeville theater dating from 1884. The rows of seats can stored away to make room for swanky receptions. Racks of brochures can come in useful for visitors.
From journal Bill in Belgium - BRUSSELS
April 25, 2001
From journal A weekend in Brussels