Galleria, Hamburg – Germany


The Galleria arcade in Hamburg might have lots of art deco features, in the overall mood, with its black and white marble shop frames and its definite art deco shape to the entrance to the upstairs apartments, but it was designed in 1976 in a part of Hamburg that had become rather run down and undeveloped in the post-war decades. It opened in 1983.

It is within the Passagen Viertel, or Arcades Quarter in Hamburg. One entrance is on the Grosse Bleichen street, the other opens out onto the old dock water of the Bleichenfleet.

Inside, it has the feel and look of a vintage arcade, which is why we include it in this Arcades Project. The black and white theme runs the full length of the arcade, with marble columns separating each shop, and the art deco entrances to the foyer leading up to the premises above the shops.

The glass roof also recalls 19th century designs, though the big yellow letters hanging from the ceiling and spelling out the name Galleria give it also a contemporary look, and an arty feel.

There’s a big range of shops here too, from the very basic jellied fish sandwich shop to the high-end jewellery, beauty and fashion shops. It’s a good example of a more modern arcade keeping the feel of a traditional arcade rather than opting for the mega shopping malls most cities went for after the 1950s.

My favourite shops today

I loved the jellyfish sandwich shops, which made me think of what must have been a traditional lunchtime dish in this old port of Hamburg; but I also loved the hat shop, with its equipment there to measure your hat size and keep the hats in good shape (see photos below)

My pick of the arcade’s past

Because this is actually a more modern arcade, there is little in the way of stories from long ago. But I liked the story of how it came to be built.

The architects were a Swiss couple Trix and Robert Haussmann who were inspired by arcades in London and Milan, though needing to keep the Hamburg building frontage on the outside. Their aim was apparently to give the feel of a stage on which the shoppers and shopkeepers were the actors.

In 1994 one ferry company trying to lure people over to Hamburg for a getaway quoted one passenger as saying the Galleria in Hamburg was ‘breathtaking’ and made ‘Bond Street look drab’ in comparison…

This arcade in films or books

I have yet to find any. Let me know if you spot the Galleria in a film or book.

What memories do you have of visits in years gone by – or do you remember the building before the 1970s refurbishment?

Have you got any good stories to add on the past of this arcade?

Have you seen Galleria, Hamburg in any film or book?

What’s your favourite shop in the arcade today?

Is there a website for this arcade?

Yes, the Galleria has its own website, which is updated regularly. Click the link here for access. Galleria is also active on Facebook and Instagram.

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