282 Collins St, Melbourne

Free

Highly recommended

Standing in stark contrast to the city’s laneways, are its glamourous arcades. They replace street art and cobblestones with boutique shops and tiled floors.

The Block Arcade is the finest example of a 19th-century shopping arcade in Australia. Originally called Carpenter’s Lane – it features a mosaic floor, carved stone finishings and a beautiful glass dome centerpiece.

Inside are a collection of boutique retailers, including the iconic Hopetoun Tea Rooms.

Opened for in 1892 by the wife of the Victorian Governor, Lady Hopetoun, these tea rooms provided a place for women to relax in between their day of shopping.

The most magnificent feature of the Block Arcade is the glass dome. Architect David C. Askew was asked to take inspiration from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan – Italy’s oldest active shopping centre – and it’s a striking copy.

Why is it called ‘The Block Arcade’? From the 1860s to the 1930s, men and women would walk around this city block, dressed in their finest clothes in an attempt to be admired by others.

This past time of high society was referred to as ‘doing the block.’