Where Brussels Shops in Style

The smell of warm waffles, footsteps on polished marble, a violinist playing, and with some luck, sunlight through a glass roof – yup, you’re in the Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries.

These stunning buildings were designed by a 25-year-old who looked at a bunch of dodgy back alleys and said: “We can do better than this.” Built in 1847, it’s one of Europe’s oldest shopping malls still in operation, inspiring copycats in cities like Paris, Milan and London. As you walk through, you’ll see the arcade bends halfway, a smart design to draw shoppers in deeper.

But the galleries aren’t just about shopping and dining. This was the site of the first Belgian motion picture screening and a favorite spot for French expats like Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Baudelaire. Even poet Paul Verlaine made a purchase here that would change his life (and that of Arthur Rimbaud) forever – a pistol.