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History of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II next to the Duomo in Milano

Almost as impressive as its neighbouring cathedral, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II next to the Duomo in Milano is a sight worth discovering. Weather you need to check out and purchase the latest fashion trends at Prada, Gucci and co, or simply want to go window shopping, the arcade serves you well either way. But, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is so much more than just a prestigious shopping centre. What about its history? Why is its architecture so stunning, so flawless, who is the name giver?

Find here some interesting facts about the History of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II next to the Duomo in Milano. Fore more information on Milan, you should check out all my travel blog posts about the city, or more specific restaurant recommendations in Milan, where to go shopping or Milanese Museums worth visiting.

Quick Facts about the History of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

What are you most interested to know about, regarding the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan in neo-classical architectural style? Below some quick facts summarized for you.

When was it built?

The Gallery was built from 1865 and 1877, about 12 years in total. The foundation stone was laid on March 7th in 1865.

Who was the architect? / And a sad aneqdote…

The constructional father of the now major landmark in Milan was architect Giuseppe Mengoni, it was designed in 1861. Among others, he also designed Palazzo di Residenza in Bologna, the Florentine markets of San Lorenzo, San Frediano and Mattonaia (1870-1874) or the great project for the “Plan for the expansion of the city of Rome” (1873).

However, he did not even get a chance to take part in the official opening ceremony of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II as he died the evening before, on December 30th 1877. He fell from the highest scaffolding of his gallery, on which he climbed to inspect the finishing details himself.

Who is the name giver / who was Vittorio Emanuele?

The Galleria is named after Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. He was the one who unified Italy, still today an important figure in the italian history.

What is the diameter of the huge glass dome?
The center piece of the arcade is undoubtly the huge glass dome. The diameter is 37.5 meters and at a height of 17.1 meters.

What is displayed below the dome?
With the general mosaic floor already being impressivly beautiful, such as the whole gallery, is the mosaic below the dome especially essential. Those four mosaics portray the coat of arms of the three capitals of the Kingdom of Italy – Milan, Turin, Florence and Rome.

Why is there a similar Galleria in Naples?

The architect of Galleria Umerto I in Naples was heavily inspired by Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. The shopping arcade in Naples, which is smaller than the one in Milan, was built just a few years later, form 1887 until 1891. During this time the decade-long rebuilding of Naples, called the risanamento (“making healthy again”), was in full swing. The one in Naples was named after Umberto I, King of Italy at the time of construction. Just as the one in Milan it also hosts businesses, shops, cafes as well as apartments on the third floor.

Do you have to wear protective masks when visiting Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan?

In theory, the current status is that you have to wear a protective face mask indoors in Italy. All four entrances of the Galleria are open, so its not exactly an enclosed room indoors. However, as the Gallery is visited by thousands of people daily, and paths can get crowded, its highly recommended to wear a mask to protect yourself and others of an Corona-infection. Safety first! You will have to wear a mask once you enter an individual store anyway.

backside entrance to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan
backside entrance to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan

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