The gallery connecting the Duomo square in Milan with the La Scala Opera square, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the oldest shopping passage in the world. It received its name from Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, the first king of the united Italian kingdom.
Built in 1877 by the architect Giuseppe Mengoni, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is cross-shaped with an octagon in the centre. The interior is crowned by a majestic glass dome, and the passage itself is 197 meters long and 47 meters high. Walls and floors are covered with coloured stone mosaics; the tiled panels in the central octagon symbolize four continents - Europe, Asia, Africa and America. The panels at the four entrances portray the coat of arms of four Italian cities - Milan, Rome, Florence and Torino. The Torino coat of arms and the bull depicted on it are especially beloved among tourists: it is said that stepping on the bull and turning around for a bit will bring the visitor happiness and wealth.
Today the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is not only a major touristic sight in Milan, but also a luxurious shopping mall, boasting the presence of all prestigious Italian brands, famous restaurants and cafГ©s, holding regular events, concerts and conferences.