Initiated around 1837, the project of the young architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer was designed to rehabilitate a poor neighbourhood by erecting a building that could host dwellings, shops, cultural spaces and areas to stroll. Construction work began in 1846 and the official inauguration took place on 20 June 1847, in the presence of Leopold I.

Ahead of its time – and the world

With these Galleries, Brussels gained a monumental arcade and joined the ranks of great European cities like Paris and London, ahead even of Milan, Moscow, and Berlin. This project, connecting the upper and lower parts of the city, rehabilitated a very poor neighbourhood.

Formerly known as the “Umbrella of Brussels”, this Florentine Renaissance-style arcade remains the most beautiful testament to the city’s commercial development before the advent of department stores. The ingenious glass roof supported by a series of self-supporting arched arches has fish-scale style tiles to allow for be better ventilation and prevent any condensation.

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