This arcade links Duomo Square with the La Scala Opera House. It was designed by architect Giuseppe Mengoni, and named after King Victor Emmanuel II. The Galleria was inaugurated on September 15, 1867, but work continued on it for another ten years. The day before its completion in December 1877, the architect Mengoni suffered a fatal fall from the top of the building's triumphal archway.
The Galleria was built during the traumatic period of Italian unification and was seen as symbolizing Italian unity, therefore it is adorned with plenty of patriotic symbols. Mosaics on the floor below the dome depict the coat of arms of Savoy. Italian cities are also depicted: a wolf represents Rome, a lily stands for Florence, a bull symbolizes Turin and a white flag with red cross means Milan. Stepping on the genitals of the bull is supposed to bring good luck.
I was not all that impressed with the building to be honest and there were too many people walking through it for the mosaics to be visible.
Right underneath the glass dome in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is the emblem of Turin, a bull, on the mosaic floor. It is meant to bring you good luck if you spin around on your right heel on the bull's most treasured possession. I kid you not, there was a crowd of people queuing up to crush the testicles of the bull of Turin, in order to bring themselves good luck. I don't know if this is a tradition imported from Turin, or if the Milanese are showing a great disrespect to their neighbours, but it was a fun to watch people grinding their heels on the poor bull's private parts.
The shopping gallery of Vittorio Emanuele II is just astonishing, and unlike any arcade I have seen anywhere in the world. Its cavernous interior is akin to the nearby cathedral , and is very much a place to worship at the altar of capitalistic consumerism. Right in the centre, underneath the fabulous glass dome, are some of the greatest names in fashion and good taste, such as Prada, Savini and .... McDonalds? Right next to some of the most exclusive shops and restaurants on the planet, in one of the grandest shopping arcades in the world, is an enormous, and to me wholly inappropriate, McDonalds restaurant. Still, the restaurant is fairly tasteful, and doesn't really detract from the whole glamour and glory of the galleria, but it is an amusing sight.
This Gallery, as anybody knows, was built in 1877. Gallery Vittorio Emanuele II is the Milan’s elegant lounge with luxury boutiques and restaurants. The roof of the gallery forms a cross that is well visible from the cathedral’s roof. It connects the Cathedral’s Square with the La Scala Square. The four symbols in every part on the floor represent the capitals of the Kingdom of Italy in various historical periods of that country. They are Milan, Turin, Florence and Rome.
There are shop’s and coffee bars in the gallery. So, if you would like to buy some goods from the most famous world’s designers and producers you can do it here, although you should be ready to pay the fair price for these fair and high quality goods. So, in fact this is just the very beautiful building but I’m not ready agape and exclaim “Gee!” looking at that structure. Anyway it worth to visit and spend there few time.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele was the place I most looked forward to visiting in Milan. Seeing it did not disappoint. Sandwiched between the Piazza della Duomo and the Piazza della Scala it is a magnificent five story glass enclosed with iron structure.
The outdoor cafes and shops are well kept up. Savini's, the famous Milanese restaurant, was packed with a line of folks waiting for a table. The Prada store was surprisingly closed even though it was late Sunday afternoon. Yes, and other VTers have pointed out no McDonald's sadly anymore to cheapen the overall impression of the galleria. Not surprisingly no beggars or individuals handing out information.
My first walk through the galleria I was struck not only by its beauty but fascinated by the fact that this was a five story building with a massive interior courtyard and glass dome constructed in the mid 19th century. Floor to ceiling is just over 47 meters high and the glass dome is 36 meters wide. As one enters the galleria from Plaza Duomo there is a grand ornamental arch that is worth a view and a few pictures. The overall building reminded me a little of the Milan Train Station in that symbols of nationalism and Italian pride are spread all throughout the galleria. An article in A View on Cities on the galleria was instructive in suggesting the building was actually designed as a Latin cross. On the floor of the galleria are the coats of arms of major cities of Italy. On the roof facades there are frescoes depicting the major areas of the world. This building must have been a source of much pride as it neared completion.
Since the story of its construction is reminiscent of how big buildings are built today in urban areas allow me to provide a short history of this structure. Back in the late 1850's the area between the Cathedral and the Opera House had declined into an eyesore. So the local government decided to hold a grand competition for redevelopment of the area. Many entries were submitted with a variety of buildings and concepts. However the design by Giuseppe Mangoni calling for a glass covered galleria stretching between the two town monuments was selected by the town. Mangoni a prominent architect had been involved in construction of several Italian town halls and designed plans for the central market in Florence.
The project commenced in 1865 when the first stone was laid by King Vittorio Emannuel II whom the galleria was later named after. Construction took twelve years and at first the project was not particularly well regarded by the Milanese community. However as construction advanced the Milanese folks who were allowed in to see the progress began to fall in love with it and affectionately it was named "Il Salotto Milano," which means the living room of Milan. In December, 1877 just a day before completion Mangoni fell to his death from the upper story of the galleria.
Definitely worth a walk through, maybe twice. For those who really want to admire its beauty sit at one of the few benches or have a drink at one of the overpriced restaurants. However above all just enjoy its uniqueness and beauty.
The magnificent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II isn't known as il salotto di Milano (Milan's living room) for nothing. It connects piazza del Duomo with piazza della Scala in grand style, and the upper echelons of Milan society all pass through at some point. Suited businessmen will happily pay €10 for a cappuccino on the terrace at Zucca, and elegant grandmothers carry their chihuahuas in Fendi bags. Shopping is, and always has been, the Galleria's main activity, and fashion flagships radiate out from the twin powerhouses of Prada and Louis Vuitton in the centre.
The Galleria's designer, Giuseppe Mengoni, pioneered its complex marriage of iron and glass 20 years before the Eiffel Tower was built. The Galleria was officially opened in 1867 by Vittorio Emanuele II, king of a newly united Italy; but, in a sour twist of fate, Mengoni wasn't present, having fallen to his death from his own creation a few days earlier.
The ceiling vaults are decorated with mosaics representing Asia, Africa, Europe and America. At ground level are mosaics of more local concerns: the coats of arms of Vittorio Emanuele's Savoia family, and the symbols of Milan (a red cross on a white field), Rome (a she-wolf), Florence (an iris) and Turin (a bull). If you can't see Turin's symbol, look out for the tourists spinning on their heels on the bull's privates - it's said to guarantee good luck.
Grab your shopping bag to go browsing in the world’s most elegant covered arcade, the glass-domed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Many shopping arcades have tried to copy the Galleria’s scale, grandeur and glorious decor, but few have matched it.
Completed in 1877, the cross-shaped shopping mall is bright and airy, thanks to its iron and glass curved roof, and the floor is patterned in marble mosaic tiles.
Shops with awnings and large plate-glass windows line the ground floor, including luxury Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton boutiques. You’ll also find some of Milan’s most lauded and historic cafes, including Biffi and Zucca’s Bar.
Designed and constructed by Giuseppe Mengoni, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was opened for business in 1877. The four-story mall consists of two glass-vaulted arcades which intersect at what amounts to a grand central courtyard.
The galleria is situated immediately between two additional signature landmarks of Milan - La Scala Opera House and the Duomo/Cathedral with its grand plaza.
We were rather surprised and disappointed to see a McDonald's amongst the luxury retailers and restaurants of the mall (this was in 2010), but have read that the city denied it a lease renewal in 2012. I've not heard further if Micky D's lawsuit has been resolved. Personally, I'm glad to see it gone; it was totally out of character for this grand old lady of a galleria.
A popular and off-beat feature of the central galleria is the mosaic bull from the coat of arms of Turin. According to tradition, if a person puts his or her right heel on the bull's genitals and turns on himself three times, this will bring good luck. After several decades of folks spinning around, the bull's genitals are no longer visible, replaced by a cone-shaped hole.
This is not your average shopping mall.
Milan’s gigantic, glass-covered arcade is a statement: a symbolic transition between heaven and earth; a marriage of the secular and sacred; a celebration of a newly unified country. On one end is Piazza della Scala: home of the historic opera house and city hall. You emerge at the other end to Piazza della Duomo, dominated by the towering facade of the cathedral. In between is a 643-foot passageway - the longer of two that comprise its cruciform design - lined with upscale restaurants and luxury-brand shops.
It was built between 1865 - 1877, around after the end of Il Risorgimento: a series of revolutions that culminated in the consolidation of separate states into the Kingdom of Italy. The new king, Victor Emmanuel II, laid the cornerstone, and it was dedicated in 1867 although some finishing work continued for another decade. From the patterns on the floor to the statuary high above, imagery of regional and national pride are everywhere and illustrate an Italy ready to combine its intellectual, creative and cultural heritages into a progressive force to be reckoned with. An immediate success as a shopping mecca and local gathering place, its architect, Giuseppe Mengoni, is said to have fallen to his death from the arch that was the last piece to be completed on the very last day of its construction. Sad, that.
Unless you have a Gucci budget it’s best to skip the shopping and concentrate on the architecture. You can probably see the golden arches in one of my photos? Yes indeed, there was a Mickey D’s here for 20 years but the City Fathers decided to replace it with another Prada store so no more McMuffins, sorry. Outraged Milanese (yes, really) set up a Facebook page to mourn the loss of a favorite hangout where you could order up a beer or glass of wine with your Big Mac. Gotta love the Italians...
This is essentially a roofed-over shopping center, but a very elegant and historical one, built from 1865 to 1867 in the very center of Milan. It was named after the then-reigning king of Italy, who was in fact the first king of Italy after unification.
Don't even think about buying anything here in the Galleria, but it's a beautiful place to walk through and it's very convenient because it's the shortest way to walk between the Cathedral Square (Piazza Duomo) and the opera house (Teatro alla Scala).
Second photo: People walking through the Galleria.
Third photo: The Galleria at night.
Fourth photo: The Galleria as seen from the roof of the nearby cathedral.
Apart from the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the most famous icon of Milan, and it was the only other attraction I had heard of before I started researching for our trip. When we got there, we were a little disappointed at first because it was very different to what we had expected, but later we liked it well enough.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was built from 1865 to 1867. It connects the Piazza del Duomo with the Piazza della Scala.
From the outside, the Galleria is very impressive, with its grand façade. It looks more like a huge imperial arch or the entrance to a palace than like a shopping mall! Inside, this impression continues: The interior is so luxurious, and there are many details to discover and admire. In the middle of the galleria, there is a large octagon which displays four different mosaics: The emblems of Rome, Florence, Venice and Torino. You might often see tourists stepping onto the bull with one heel and spinning around - a local custom that is now one of the must dos for many tourists. In picture 3, you can see the emblem of Rome.
The glass cupola above the octagon is 47m high, and around it there are mosaics of four continents, Europe, Africa, Asia and America - Australia is left out (see picture 4).
All this is very impressive and elegant for sure, but altogether, the galleria was smaller than we had thought. This means that there are also not as many shops as the travel guides make it sound, but that is just as well because they are all luxurious high fashion shops anyway, and nothing we could or want to effort :-) The galleria is still worth a visit to see its architecture, and because it is a fast and easy way to get from the Duomo area to the Piazza della Scala and surroundings.
You can see more pictures in this travelogue
I'm not usually one for gawping at the touristy stuff during my city visits, nor indeed am I one for writing about them, but here in Milan I gawped, good and proper, at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
And now I'm writing about it!
I suppose it must be an Italian thing to build a shopping mall to celebrate the unification of the nation after the then King of Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel II (along with Guiseppe Garibaldi), triumphed over the Austrian Empire. But what a grandoise shopping mall it is with its four-storey twin arcades of ornate buildings forming two streets crossing octagonally under the 164 foot high, finely-engineered, steel and glass dome. This is where the poshest of posh shops are to be found including Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton, some fashionable (and expensive) restaurants and cafes and, somewhat incongruously, a MacDonald's.
As well as the ornateness of the buildings and structure there are a set of paintings on the upper storey of the buildings around the central octagon which depict the Continents whilst the mosaicced marble floor centres around the city's coat-of-arms with the signs of the zodiac around it.
Yep, definitely a must-see and be prepared to gawp!
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is an elegant shopping mall designed in 1861, and built from 1865-1877. It has 4 wings and a central dome, all with iron and glass ceilings. The shops are “high-end” and I didn’t even go in any of them, but the building itself is worth some time.
The floor has beautiful mosaics. One of them is a bull, and tradition says that you will have good luck if you put your foot on his testicle and spin 3 times. The mosaic is totally worn away in that spot!