At the beginning of the 19th century, Dutch architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar came up with the idea of modernising part of the narrowly built and poorly lit city centre of Brussels. With a new type of building, he not only wanted to give the city a contemporary appearance, but also to attract members of higher society and the nobility to this less frequented part of the old town.
In 1836, together with the banker Jean-André Demot, he founded the “Société des Galeries Saint-Hubert”.
It took them nine long years to buy all the land so that they could start the work. The gallery was completed within a year and was opened by King Leopold I on 20 June 1847.
Built in the Florentine Renaissance style, the shopping arcade is 213 metres long and consists of a corridor with two upper floors protected from the weather by a glass roof. This made it possible to sit in a street café at any time, even in Brussels’ harsh climate.
The gallery itself consists of three parts: the “Galerie de la Reine” (Queen’s Gallery), the “Galerie du Roi” (King’s Gallery) and the “Galerie du Prince” (Prince’s Gallery).
From the outset, the Passage attracted numerous luxury shops that gave Brussels the flair of a European metropolis.
Today, together with the famous Passage in Saint Petersburg and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, it is regarded as a model for all later shopping arcades and malls.