Galeries Saint-Hubert is considered the oldest indoor shopping center in the world. How could I miss that during my stay in Belgium? Due to the fact that I consider myself somewhat of a shopping connoisseur, I was excited to see what it had in store for me (no pun intended).
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.