VITTORIO EMANUELE GALLERY, HISTORY

Audio File length: 2.50
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, I'm James, your personal guide. Together with MyWoWo, I'd like to welcome you to one of the wonders of the world.

Today I'll accompany you through the Vittorio Emanuele Gallery.

The Vittorio Emanuele Gallery is the most evocative and artistic shopping area in Milan!

 

The most "Milanese" stroll you can go on is the one that takes you from the Cathedral to La Scala or vice versa: this connection between the two symbolic monuments at the heart of Milan is guaranteed by the spectacular gallery, a masterpiece of architecture and functionality.

 

In addition to being one of the most interesting monuments of nineteenth-century Europe, the Gallery is a meeting place for people, and the location par excellence for taking in the spirit and rhythm of Milan. From glittering showcases of fashion to a quick coffee at a bar, from the endless shelves of the bookshops to the countless tourist selfies, from the most exclusive hotel all the way up to fast food. All of this, under a big iron and glass roof.

 

Getting from A to B is simple, but if you had tried to go from the Cathedral to La Scala Opera House two hundred years ago, you would have gotten lost in a maze of old, multi-floor tenements that were really hard to get through. That's why an international competition for proposals was issued in April of 1860 asking architects to facilitate getting around the city's center, to even out the sides of Cathedral Square and to add a commercial gallery: an impressive 176 projects were presented! The functional and practical design chosen was a surprise, as its author Giuseppe Mengoni was not from Milan but from Emilia, and he wasn't an architect, but a railway engineer!

 

The construction and decoration of the gallery was a huge group effort that saw the participation of the architect and teams of decorators, carpenters, glaziers, potters, blacksmiths, and talented craftsmen.

 

The first stone was solemnly laid in March 1865, and at lightning speed for those times, the Gallery was ready after only two years. Ten years later the monumental arch of Cathedral Square was finally completed, but there were no celebrations because the day before its inauguration, the architect Mengoni died when he fell from the scaffolding. Was it an accident or suicide? The mystery has remained unsolved.

 

FUN FACT: an elevator has recently been added that lets you go above the gallery. Up there you can see everything from above, and take in a 360 degree view of Milan.

 

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