A Passage through the Past at the Royal Arcade

By Christina Kim - September 10, 2015

I was at a shopping arcade, but, I was not there for the shopping.

I was there for the reason that this is one arcade that one should at least drop by just for a glimpse of it, for it is another one on the list of the heritage sites in the city and one of the surviving 19th century icons.

It is a tourist attraction.

We are talking about the Royal Arcade.


Most of the people who have visited Melbourne, will have a photo of this beautiful arcade in their collection.

It is iconic as much as it is historic.

Its ornamental and regal architecture is what captures the eye of most who walks into this heritage building.
It is as though time has stopped inside the passageway of the Royal Arcade; with its arches and majestic columns decorating the hallway paved with the dated black and white tiles.
It almost felt like one was walking on a chess board!

 However, this was not the original floor which paved the ground of the Royal Arcade in the beginning or in its original design.
The building, which was completed and launched in the year 1869, had a Castlemaine flag floor back then, as designed by architect Charles Webb who won the design competition the year before, in 1868.
(Like most heritage architectural buildings in Melbourne, most of them were selected designs through competitions).

The reason for the refurbishment of the floors were due to its shabby and dilapidated states, partly attributed and aggravated by the issue of the rat tunnels beneath it which led to the overhaul of the flooring in 1934 where the black and white concrete squares took its place.
These were then replaced by terrazzo tiles; in the same colors of black and white, as what we see them today in the Royal Arcade.

Besides the floor, another important feature not to be missed is at the south end of the arcade where the Gaunt's clock is located.
(Thomas Gaunt is one of the prominent and well-established watchmaker and jeweler from the 19th century)


The clock chimes at every hour and is located between two sculptures in the forms of the legendary and mythical Gog and Magog, and they are responsible to strike the time.
With early references in religious aspects, these two figures are described in their depictions on the sign displayed below the clock as the mythical giants Gog and Magog (also known as Corineus and Gogmagog) appearing in the battle between the Britons and the Trojans back in 1708, where these two were captured by the Trojans and made to serve as porters at the gateway of an ancient palace on a site later occupied by Guildhall.
It is traditional for Gog to stand to the north and Magog to the south.

The establishment of the Royal Arcade was for and fully owned by the Staughton and Spensely families and were officiated by the Lord Mayor Charles Amess in its grand opening in the the year 1870.

Currently owned by Royal Arcade Pty Ltd, the Royal Arcade is one of the surviving 19th century (or pre-1870) built arcades among the 18 others found worldwide.

This is also the one of the earliest arcades in the country; in fact, it is the Oldest retail/shopping arcade in Australia.

The Royal Arcade consists of approximately 29 shops in its premises, in its design which has also gone through numerous facelifts particularly in the years 2002-2004 to enhance the lighting in the arcade and the standardization of the shops in their appearances.


The Royal Arcade is the pride of the Australians and is one of the most significant icons in the state of Victoria, due to its remarkable and resplendent design which distinguished it as one of the outstanding ones in the region, especially back then, based on its distinctive design inspiration from the Europe.


It is one of the most notable of the few designs by the well-renowned Charles Webb.

The Royal Arcade connects Little Collins Street to the Bourke Street Mall, running through to Elizabeth Street linked by a passageway.

Listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, this is one of the most iconic spots for tourists in the city centre.


It is just picturesque to add to the collection of the memories of the city of Melbourne.

It is worth a visit to take that passageway through time, and take a step back into the past.


*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and preferences and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

LIKE my Facebook Page
Follow Me on Twitter @Angelstar
Follow my Google+
Stalk me on Instagram @AngelstarChristy

Check out my Pinterest @Angelstarc

  • Share:

You Might Also Like