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Built between 1846 and 1847, the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert were the first covered shopping arcades in Europe. They’re an ensemble of three large glazed halls named Galerie du Roi, Galerie de la Reine and Galerie des Princes. The stores housed inside are upscale boutiques, fancy teahouses, famous chocolateries, an exceptional bookstore as well as a cinema. Even though the prices of the items sold here are rather high, the arcades are definitely worth a visit even if it’s just for window-shopping. Make sure to also look up to the glass-paned roof as it has a delicate cast-iron framework!
Did you know that the Belgian praline was actually invented in the Galeries Royales? In 1857, Jean Neuhaus opened a pharmacy under the shopping arcades. Years later, his grandson found a way to make the medicines taste less horrible by coating them with a layer of chocolate. In the end, these drugs became so popular that he decided to replace the medicine with a sweet filling, hence the birth of the praline! Today, more chocolatiers have followed his example by opening a shop nearby. Even Pierre Marcolini’s famous pralines can be bought here.
Apart from chocolate, you can also have delicious waffles within these galeries. The waffle with hot chocolade sauce and warm strawberries from Maison Dandoy is one of my favourites. And combined with a hot chocolate (made with real melted chocolate), I'm definitely in heaven!
An alternative is the gourmet waffle from Gaufres and Waffles. They have a completely different and culinary approach to this Belgian specialty. If you've never tried a waffle with lobster, for example, this is your chance!
As mentioned above, the Galeries des Princes houses one very exceptional shop called Tropismes Libraires, which must be the most beautiful bookstore in Brussels. Thanks to its high ornate ceilings, elaborately gilded columns and mirrored walls, you’d almost spend more time marveling at the architecture than browsing through the books. The bookshop is internationally renowned, especially for literature, human science and fine arts.
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