|Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert (French)|
Koninklijke Sint-Hubertusgalerijen (Dutch)
|Opening date||20 June 1847|
The Saint-Hubert Royal Galleries (French: Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Dutch: Koninklijke Sint-Hubertusgalerijen) are an ensemble of glazed shopping arcades in Brussels, Belgium. Designed and built by architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer between 1846 and 1847, they precede other famous 19th-century shopping arcades such as the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan and The Passage in St Petersburg. Like them, they have twin regular facades with distant origins in Vasari's long narrow street-like courtyard of the Uffizi in Florence, with glazed arched shopfronts separated by pilasters and two upper floors, all in an Italianate Cinquecento style, under an arched glass-paned roof with a delicate cast-iron framework.
The galleries consist of two major sections, each more than 100 metres (330 feet) in length (respectively called Galerie du Roi / Koningsgalerij, meaning King's Gallery, and Galerie de la Reine / Koninginnegalerij, meaning Queen's Gallery), and a smaller side gallery (Galerie des Princes / Prinsengalerij, meaning Gallery of the Princes). The main sections (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 galleries. This "bend" was introduced purposefully in order to make the long perspective of the galleries, with its repetition of arches, pilasters and windows, less tedious.
The galleries were designed by the young architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer, who determined to sweep away a warren of ill-lit alleyways between the Rue du Marché aux Herbes / Grasmarkt and the Rue Montagne aux Herbes Potagères / Warmoesberg and replace a sordid space where the bourgeoisie scarcely ventured into with a covered shopping arcade more than 200 metres (660 feet) in length. His idea, conceived in 1836, was finally authorised in February 1845. The partnership "Société des Galeries Saint-Hubert", in which the banker Jean-André Demot took an interest, was established by the summer, but nine 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 started on 6 May 1846. It lasted for 18 months, and the 213 m (699 ft) passage was inaugurated on 20 June 1847 by King Leopold and his two sons. In 1845, the Société named the three 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.
Under its motto "Omnibus omnia" (Everything for everybody), displayed in the fronton of its palace-like facade, the Passage Saint-Hubert attracted people of fashion. Brilliantly lit, it offered the luxury of outdoor cafés 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 La Chronique daily newspaper, on 1 March 1896, the first public showing of moving pictures took place of the cinematographers Lumière, fresh from their initial triumph in Paris.
A theatre inside the galleries, the Théâtre des Galeries Saint-Hubert, was designed by Cluysenaer and opened 7 June 1847. It became one of three royal theaters of Brussels, playing operetta and revues. The interior was rebuilt in 1951.
In 2008, the Royal Galleries were submitted for World Heritage inscription and are included in UNESCO's "Tentative List" in the cultural heritage category.
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