The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a covered double arcade formed of two glass-vaulted arcades at right angles intersecting in an octagon, prominently sited on the northern side of the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, and connects to the Piazza della Scala. Named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of united Italy, it was originally designed in 1861 and built by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877.
The street is covered over by an arching glass and cast iron roof, a popular design for nineteenth-century arcades, such as the Burlington Arcade, London, which was the prototype for larger glazed shopping arcades, beginning with the Saint-Hubert Gallery in Brussels (opened 1847), the Passazh in St Petersburg (opened 1848), the Galleria Umberto I in Naples (opened 1890) and the Budapest Galleria.
The central octagonal space is topped with a glass dome. The Milanese Galleria was larger in scale than its predecessors and was an important step in the evolution of the modern glazed and enclosed shopping mall, of which it was the direct progenitor. It has inspired the use of the term galleria for many other shopping arcades and malls. The use of the iron structure has inspired also the Eiffel Tower, in Paris.
The Galleria connects two of Milan’s most famous landmarks: The Duomo and the Teatro Alla Scala, but the Galleria is a landmark on its own right.
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