In 1847, King Leopold I laid the first stone of the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Left in charge of construction, architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar designed two galleries : one for the Queen, the other for the King, including the adjacent Passage des Princes. At each extremity of these 250 metre-long galleries, the architect crafted a massive semi-circle glazed roof to cover the upper floor apartments and ground floor luxury boutiques, all beautifully decorated with marble and copper.
The Galeries Saint-Hubert quickly became the city’s new attraction. Considered a mark of luxury and elegance, this urban promenade offered some of the best restaurants, shops and shows in the city. In the evening, well-groomed proletarians used to meet in this magic place, such as artists, intellectuals, and journalists. Regulars of the Galleries include Victor Hugo, Juliette Drouet, Paul Verlaine – who bought, in the Galerie de la Reine, the revolver which he wounded Arthur Rimbaud with – writer Willy Gauthier-Willars, Paul Fort, and Guillaume Apollinaire.
From 1847 to the post-war era, up to this day, the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert have kept its strong heritage over the years, which now attracts over 6 million visitors each year. Today, many artists, painters, composers, collectors and a happy few still live in the Galleries, which, since the opening of l’Hôtel des Galeries in 2014, have turned a new page in its history.