The Architecture and Design of the Royal Arcade

Explore the charm and history of Melbourne City in the Royal Arcade, one of the city’s premier shopping destinations that is filled to the brim with designer boutiques, cafes, and must-visit stores.

Set in the Central Business District of the city, it dates back to 1870 when its grand opening took place. It is now one of the oldest surviving shopping arcades in Australia and is best-known for its opulent interior and the impressive carvings of mythical figures Gog and Magog that guard the southern entrance.

The Architecture of the Royal Arcade

The architecture is one of the most stunning things about the arcade. It was designed by Charles Webb in 1868 when he won a competition asking for entries to visualise and bring to life this opulent shopping complex. Today, the arcade boasts a stunning design, with a high glass roof and grand arched windows that add a sense of royal charm to the shopping experience.

Gog and Magog in the Royal Arcade

Perhaps the most prominent architectural feature of the arcade, though, is the famous carved figures of Gog and Magog who guard Gaunt’s clock. The arms of the figures come to life every hour as their arms strike bells to mark the time. Added to the design in 1893, the figures have become a pivotal part of the arcade.

There are a number of myths surrounding the historical figures of Gog and Magog, including one story that tells of them being guards of the underworld and gods of dark spirits. The story says that, once Gog and Magog return to war, the war will end.

There are a couple of other carved statues at home in the arcade, too, including a symbolic feature piece of Chronos, a Greek mythological character known as Father Time, who sits to by the northern entrance.

The Royal Arcade Today

Between 2002 and 2004, the Royal Arcade went under a major refurbishment that saw it restored back to its former glory. Extensive work was carried out on its grand skylights and its elegant storefronts to fully reflect its historic charm.

Today, the arcade remains a beautiful reminder of the city’s past, largely untouched by modern goings-on. Its Renaissance Revival style remains in a pristine condition, promising a stunning backdrop for any shopping experience.

If you’re in the area and fancy hitting up the shops, the Royal Arcade brings consumers a historic and charming touch to their day.

Visit the Royal Arcade on our Melbourne City Sightseeing Tour.