The Royal Opera Arcade
The Royal Opera Arcade, next to Her Majesty's Theatre in London, is Britain's oldest and first covered shopping arcade, having been designed by John Nash and built in 1818. The arcade itself stretches between Pall Mall and Charles II Street, and is fairly narrow - being only roughly 12 feet wide and housing eighteen different shops, each of which specialize in luxury items and traditional, British goods related to the subject of country living. The shops are fairly small and quaint, but each has its own basement and mezzanine/balcony room.
The original aim of The Royal Opera Arcade and arcades like it was to lure Victorian shoppers off the crowded, dirty streets, and offer them a calmer, cleaner, more high class shopping experience, as standard Victorian streets were often very muddy and noisy, and as there was so many people there was a very high risk of being pick-pocketed. The Royal Opera Arcade offered the more wealthy patrons a safer, quieter place to shop for their luxury jewelry, glassware, upper class gifts and pricey trinkets.
The Royal Opera Arcade is the proud survivor of many close calls and disasters, including devastating fires in 1867, and the 1890 demolition of the Haymarket Opera House that once stood in front of the arcade. The Royal Opera Arcade now houses shops such as Author Shoes, La Galleria Pall Mall (the most prestigious contemporary art gallery in London), Vive La Rose florists, Ducketts Booksellers, Synergy alternative medicines, The Stephen Wiltshire Gallery and more.