As if the Gothic Wonder wasn't enough to turn the Cathedral Square in Milan into one of the most remarkable places on Earth, a galleria was built right next to the cathedral in the third quarter of the 19th century. Named after Victor Emmanuel II (the first king of the unified Italy), and styled after several popular shopping arcades scattered throughout Europe, the galleria was to become yet another place of commerce - and one trying to benefit from the proximity to a major tourist attraction. While having indeed become a high-end shopping mall, the galleria owes to its prominent neighbour much more than a throng of customers it was hoping for. In other words, the cathedral did affect and even shape the galleria but in a much less predictable and more subtle (and even mysterious) way.
The galleria has haute couture, jewelry, paintings, rare books and many similar things - as well as expensive restaurants and hotels - on its collective offer but so do many other malls and individual stores where people come for no other reason but to buy whatever is sold there. However, there is at least one other reason to visit the "king's palace" - namely, to feast the eyes on its frescos and stained glass windows, multicoloured floor mosaic and golden pilasters, all that enhanced by perfect geometric shapes. Churches and cathedrals are also known as "temples of God" - building on that metaphor, one could say that the great cathedral shared with the neighbouring galleria its temple status, thus turning a mundane structure into a temple devoted to the god of beauty and perfection (if only there were one such in the Greek mythology). Equally remarkable, its creators managed to turn a famous Biblical story on its head by inviting merchants to the temple rather than chasing them from it!