Thursday, November 19, 2015

Brussels - Galeries Royales Saint Hubert

Date of visit: 10th October 2015

While walking towards Grand Place, we accidentally bumped into this beautiful galleries. When I first step inside the entrance, it was a feeling like I was entering a similar gallery in Milan, back in year 2005. Yes, this glazed shopping arcade reminded me so much of the famous 19th-century shopping arcades in Milan Italy, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. I was told there is another mall similar to these 2, called “the Passage” located in St Petersburg. All the 3 galleria has twin regular facades with distant origins in Vasari's long narrow street-like courtyard of the Uffizi, Florence, with glazed arcades shopfronts separated by pilasters and two upper floors, all in an Italianate Cinquecento (Renaissance's) architecture style, under an arched glass-paned roof with a delicate cast-iron framework.

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Galeries Saint Hubert is the oldest shopping galleries in Europe, opened in 1847. Even today, the Galeries preserved their own elegance, making it the true living in Brussels. Its architecture, with a beautiful roof glass dome is grandeur and charming to see. These beautiful galleries, represented the shopping place of tradition and classical culture was built by the famous architect Clysenaer. I would say, the Saint Hubert galleries represent the most beautiful covered galleries for excellence. The Galeries Saint Hubert are in the heart of downtown, just steps away from a must visit place when in Brussels, the Grand Place, i.e. the main square. The galleries appeared to be divided into 3 sections: the Galerie du Roi, the Galerie de la Reine and the Galerie des Princes. More or less half of its development, cross Rue de Bouchers. The street is actually full of seafood restaurants, but we did not get a chance to try them. All this area, so it was preserved its original appearance and funded the restoration, it was declared a municipality in 1960 from Sacred Islet.

The Galeries Saint Hubert is a great place for a walk through luxury shops and elegant pastry shops with the inevitable products of Belgian chocolate-makers. If the weather is inclement (usual thing in Brussels, given the high rate of rainfall), it is very pleasant to sit for tea break having the famous Belgium waffles. It deserves also a visit to a local specialist in champagne.

The gallery consists of 2 major sections, each is more than 100 meters in length, respectively called Galerie du Roi/Koningsgalerij, means King's Gallery and Galerie de la Reine/Koninginnegalerij, which means Queen's Gallery. There is a smaller side gallery name Galerie des Princes/Prinsengalerij, meaning Gallery of the Princes. The main sections, i.e. the King and Queen's Gallery are separated by a colonnade at the point where the Rue des Bouchers/Beenhouwersstraat crosses the gallery complex. At this point there is a discontinuity in the straight perspective of the gallery. The bend was introduced purposefully in order to make the long perspective of the gallery, with its repetition of arches, pilasters and windows, less tedious.

The gallery was designed by the young architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer, who determined to sweep away a warren of ill-lit alleyways between the Grasmarkt /Marche aux Herbes and the Kruidtuinberg/Montagne aux Herbes Potageres and replace a sordid space where the bourgeoisie scarcely ventured into with a covered shopping arcade more than 200 m in length. His idea, conceived in 1836, was finally authorized in February 1845. The partnership "Societe des Galeries Saint-Hubert", in which the banker Jean-Andre Demot took an interest, was established by the summer, but 9 years were required to disentangle all the property rights, assembled by rights of eminent domain, during a process that caused one property owner to die of a stroke and a barber, it was said, slit his throat as the adjacent house came down.

Construction commenced on 6th May 1846 for a duration of 18 months. 213 meter passage was inaugurated on 20th June 1847 by King Leopold and his 2 sons. In 1845 the Societe named the 3 sections of the new passage the Galerie du Roi, Galerie de la Reine and Galerie du Prince. The ensemble, called the Passage Saint-Hubert has borne its present name since 1965. There is a theater inside the galleries that is the Theater des Galeries Saint-Hubert, was also designed by Cluysenaer and opened on 7th June 1847. It became one of 3 royal theatres of Brussels, playing operetta and revues. The interior was rebuilt in 1951.

Under its motto "Omnibus omnia" (Everything for everybody), displayed in the front on of its palace-like facade, the Passage Saint-Hubert attracted people of fashion. Brilliantly lit, it offered the luxury of outdoor cafes in Brussels inclement climate, in an ambiance of luxury retailers that brought to Brussels the true feel of a European capital. In the premises of the journal, March 1, 1896, the first public showing of moving pictures took place of the cinematographers Lumiere, fresh from their initial triumph in Paris. Do include a visit to the mall should you are in town.

Remarks: Information obtain from many sources of website.

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