The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a landmark of Italy that is often named as the “guest-house” of Milan.
This mall is considered the oldest gallery in the world.
The Gallery connects two central places in Milan: Duomo Square and La Scala Square.
History of the Galleria
The project of the Galleria was trusted to a well-known Italian architect Giuseppe Mengoni. It took twelve years to build the arcade; the opening of the Galleria was on December 30, 1877. The king himself, Vittorio Emanuele II, was on the opening ceremony, so the gallery was named after him and consecrated. However, that joyous day was marred by a tragic event – the author of the project, Giuseppe Mengoni, died just a day before the grand opening of the Galleria. The accidental death happened due to falling off a scaffold. Today, the memorial plate in honor of the great architect is hanging at the entrance of the Duomo di Milano side.
The Architecture of the Galleria
The Galleria is made is a shape of the Latin cross with an octagonal center that is decorated with mosaics. Each of them symbolizes the Continents: Europe, Asia, America, and Africa.
Above the arch of the gallery, you can see the mosaic panels at the end of every wing. They allegorically depict Agriculture, Art, Manufacturing, and Science. These panels are the genuine works of art as the best artists from all the provinces of Italy were working on them. Moreover, a famous Milan sculptor Pietro Magni himself made 24 statues of the outstanding Italians, among which are the monuments of Michelangelo di Buonarroti, Camillo Benso (Count of Cavour), and Galileo Galilei.
Furthermore, each of the entrances to the Galleria (there are four of them) has a special emblem of four Italian cities:
- Milan – a white field with a red cross;
- Rome – the Capitoline Wolf;
- Turin – the bull;
- Florence – the red lily.
At the crossing of the beams, there is a glass dome with a height of 47 meters. Under it, you can see a magnificent mosaic with the House of Savoy’s coat of arms: it is a white cross (of Saint George) on the red background.
A huge glass cupola made in cross shape covers the Galleria. This gallery represents the first Italian construction that combines metal and glass.
Galleria in Modern Life
Today the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is among the most favorite tourists’ landmarks in Milan. This mall houses such well-known stores as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, as well as reputed restaurants and cafés. Additionally, various exhibitions and concerts are held in the Galleria from time to time.
Having a rest in the mall, you can go to the museums of the Sforza Castle, where, among other things, the works of Giovanni Bellini, Filippino Lippi, and also the last artwork of Michelangelo are presented. By the way, it takes just 15 minutes by foot to get to the castle.
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