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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

P.za del Duomo, 20123 Milano MI, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

EUR 12

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expert
Ambra
Local tour guide
"Make sure to visit the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan during the evening golden hours; the light passing through the glass dome makes the mosaic floors glow beautifully, creating a magical atmosphere. Don't miss the tradition of spinning on the bull's testicles depicted in the mosaic on the floor for good luck; it's considered a must-do for first-time visitors!"

What is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II?

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is not just an average shopping arcade – it's a historical and architectural jewel in the heart of Milan. Often referred to simply as 'the Galleria', it's one of the world's oldest shopping malls, housed within a four-story double arcade that's joined by triumphal arches at both its north and south ends. With its glass-vaulted ceilings and mosaic floors, the Galleria exudes a grandeur that harks back to Italy's past, while housing some of the most luxurious boutiques and elegant cafés.

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I like to tell folks who visit that the Galleria isn't merely a place for retail therapy; it’s a cultural experience where you get to walk through living history. Fashionistas and architecture enthusiasts mingle here, surrounded by neoclassical influence that extends from graceful shop fronts to the fine details etched into every iron banister.

History of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Galleria's origins are a testament to Milan's ambition. Designed in 1861 by architect Giuseppe Mengoni and named after the first king of the Kingdom of Italy, its construction began in 1865 and was completed in 1877. It's been the pride of Milan since opening, having survived World War II bombings with only minor damage. The Galleria's birth coincided with the Italian unification movement, representing not just a center for commerce but also a symbol of the new, unified Italy's modernity and economic strength.

Mengoni's vision was revolutionary, combining iron and glass to create a roof structure that was groundbreaking at the time. However, he tragically never saw his masterpiece completed; Mengoni fell to his death from the scaffolding just days before the Galleria's official inauguration. Walking through the Galleria, visitors tread on the crest of noble Milanese families and admire the mosaics that highlight both commerce and industry, embodying the spirit of Milan's advancement.

Why is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Important?

Beyond being just one of Milan's must-visit attractions, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II holds a mirror to Italy's evolution over time. It's a monument of cultural significance, combining Milan's reputation for fashion with its historical pursuit of greatness. The structure itself symbolizes innovation, as its iron-and-glass design was an architectural marvel of its era, signifying a move towards modernization in the 19th century. It was a structure built to inspire and flaunt Milan's wealth and taste.

But there's more: the Galleria is important for Italians as a gathering place, a 'living room' where people come to socialize, celebrate, or even protest. Tradition has it that spinning on the testicles of the bull from Turin's coat of arms within the Galleria mosaic brings good luck – it's a quirky ritual that reflects the local culture's playful side. Through times of change, the Galleria has remained a steadfast symbol of Milanese identity.

Things to Do & See at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Wandering through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, you'll discover a bevy of activities to enchant all senses. Begin with the simple pleasure of strolling beneath the soaring glass dome, feeling like a character out of a 19th-century novel. Take in the stately mosaics beneath your feet, each a story woven into the very fabric of Milan.

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Savor a silky espresso or indulge in a sumptuous meal at one of the historic cafés – have you really been to Milan if you haven't experienced an aperitivo at the famed Caffè Camparino? For shoppers, flagship stores of luxury Italian brands offer not just retail splendors but also a peek into fashion's cutting edge. And don't forget to visit the historic bookstores and art galleries that offer quieter, yet equally rich, experiences.

For those enthralled by art and history, there's the high-end allure of the Galleria's museums and exhibitions. Intimate tours can sometimes lead you above the glass vault to the roof, revealing a spectacular unseen view of the city, a side of Milan that many visitors don't often get to see. Whether it's the latest haute couture or the simple pleasure of people-watching from the ornate balconies, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II offers a palette of experiences unique to Milan's historic heart.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II?

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is an iconic and historic shopping gallery in Milan, Italy. It is named after Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy, and is known for its impressive architecture and luxury retail shops.

Where is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II located?

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is located in the heart of Milan, adjacent to the Piazza del Duomo, which is home to the Milan Cathedral.

What can you find inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II?

Inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, visitors can find a range of luxury retailers, designer boutiques, bookshops, restaurants, and cafes, as well as a few hotels and offices. It is also a popular location for people to meet and enjoy the stunning architecture.

What is the architectural style of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II?

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is designed in a neoclassical and Renaissance style, featuring large glass-vaulted arcades intersecting in an octagon covering the street connecting Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Scala.

Is there any cultural significance to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II?

Yes, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is not only a shopping destination but also a cultural landmark of Milan. It has been a symbol of Italian luxury and elegance since its completion in 1877. The Galleria is also part of the city's historic and artistic heritage, often hosting art exhibitions and events.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

P.za del Duomo, 20123 Milano MI, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

EUR 12

Find it on google maps