The Block Arcade in Melbourne

The Block Arcade in Melbourne

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 02/06/2018

Reading time: 3 mins

The Block Arcade can be found in the heart of Melbourne’s central business district, and is a prominent heritage landmark in the area.

As well as boasting a well-trod shopping centre, the city’s Golden Mile heritage walk runs right through the middle of it, allowing visitors to soak up the rich history.

Formerly known as Carpenter’s Lane, the arcade soon became known simply as “The Block” because of the pre-Victorian Football League matches tradition where women walked one way around the block and men walked the other. The Local shopkeepers petitioned to have the name changed.

Today, it is a significant and impressive Victorian era arcade and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. Along with the Royal Arcade, it forms one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

Getting to Know Block Arcade

The Arcade connects Collins St, Little Collins, and Elizabeth Streets and dates back to the late 19th century. Its magnificent design was based on the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, and it remains one of the most impressive pieces of architecture in the city.

Inside, elegant boutiques and charming cafes glitter under warm lighting, while the richly decorated interior – complete with gold fixtures and fittings and high ceilings – promises an opulent shopping experience for anyone who steps inside.

Look out for the colour-coordinated plant holders, the heritage lighting, and the eye-catching glass ceiling.

For over a century, the Arcade has been home to a range of luxurious brands and retailers, and it is still home to some of the firm favourites from yesteryear.

The most popular outlets include the Hopetoun Tea Rooms – look out for their windows that are piled high with mouth-watering cakes – and Haigh’s Chocolates, one of the oldest and best-loved chocolatiers in Australia.

While those two options might make it seem like the Block Arcade is there to treat your sweet tooth, there are plenty of other shops and boutiques to explore inside, from designer clothing brands to homeware stores and everything in between.

Today, the Block makes a regular appearance on foodie tours thanks to its collection of high-end sweet stores and flurry of artisan cafes. Visitors can join one of the twice-weekly guided tours that take participants behind-the-scenes and reveal the fascinating history that has imbued the building for over one-hundred years.

The Arcade is well worth a visit if you want to explore the historic, opulent side of Melbourne. Set aside an afternoon to dip in and out of the high-end shops and grab a coffee at one of the famous cafes.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.