The arcade was inaugurated by King Leopold I In June 1847 and beyond the peristyle opening onto rue des Bouchers it comprises the Galerie du Roi and Galerie de la Reine. The Galerie des Princes was added at a later date. These arcades were built before the famous Victor-Emmanuel Gallery in Milan despite the fact that the Italian arcade is reputed to be the oldest in Europe. After the examples set in Paris and London, cities such as Brussels, Hamburg, Nantes and Trieste all followed the fashion for these streets sheltered from the elements and the Galeries Saint-Hubert were the finest and most elegant of them all. The covered passages appeared in the days of the Industrial Revolution, usually built by private entrepreneurs, and they were the shop-windows of a whole new social order. There are those who consider them to be the successors to the galleries in the Palais Royal in the days of Philippe d’Orléans; others believe that they were, more simply, pedestrian precincts designed to protect passers-by from the mud thrown up by carriage wheels. Still others see them as a modern form of Roman market places and bazaars of the Orient.
Walking across the Galeries Saint-Hubert
In rue de la Montagne, the architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar (1811-80) built an elegant Classical façade decorated with pilasters. The central section has a number I of sculptures and the motto Omnibus omnia (Everything for Everybody). The arcade is 213m/231yd long and lined with luxury shops.
Example of some of the luxury shops of the Galeries Saint-Hubert
And two superb bookshops (Tropismes and Librairie des Galeries), a theatre (Théatre royal des Galeries), a cinema (Arenberg-Galeries), elegant tea shops and several restaurants including the Taverne du passage which has an Art Deco interior and I’Ogenblick where the atmosphere is typical of Brussels.
There are three stories and the arcades as a whole are roofed with glass barrel vaulting (except in the Galerie des Princes) across a slender metal framework. The decorative features were by Joseph Jaquet.
Details of the arcades of the galeries Saint-hubert
It is said that the Galeries Saint-Hubert, having become a very fashionable meeting place shortly after the official opening, attracted the Cercle artistique et littéraire, an artistic and literary circle frequented by Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Edgar Quinet who came here to listen to lectures given by Deschanel. The Galerie du Roi leads onto rue de l’Ecuyer. Almost opposite is rue Montagne aux Herbes Potagères. A La Mort Subite (Sudden Death) at n° 7 is one of Brussels’ veritable institutions. The unusual name of this typical Brussels café even provided the inspiration for the title of a ballet choreographed by Maurice Mart. It is said to come from the name given to the loser in a game of pitchesbak, which is now known as 421, a game which used to be popular with the many journalists who frequented the district.
Cafés of the Galeries Saint-Hubert
Continue along rue Montagne-aux-Herbes-Potagères and turn left onto rue Fosse aux Loups. At 47 rue Fosse aux Loups is the Hotel SAS, with a stretch of the original town walls in the foyer. Some say it has been excessively restored, others believe that its preservation is extremely fortunate.
Galerie du Roi
Galerie de la Reine
Galerie des Princes