The Nicholas Building – Melbourne, Australia - Atlas Obscura
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The Nicholas Building

A beautiful 1920s tower filled with local hidden gems. 


Perched on top of chain stores and squished between souvenir shops on Melbourne’s main drag, the Nicholas Building is an unlikely hub of curio shops and artists’ studios neatly obscured by the hustle and bustle of the Flinders end of Swanston Street.

Nestled between a notorious bargain basement store and a global sandwich chain, the Cathedral Arcade is home to a cute little café and several independent Melbourne-based fashion labels that are well worth a look. But the real star is the art deco architecture of the shopping arcade itself and its gorgeous arched leadlight roof.

The unassuming staircase up into the heart of the building is emblazoned with advertising for a huge vintage clothing store, which takes up much of the first floor and gives no hint as to the rest of the treasures the other 10 stories hold. 

From the second floor up, the original rickety elevator doors still stand and the rabbit-warren halls are home to craft, haberdashery, kooky homewares, second-hand books, open artist studios, exhibitions, and even a witchcraft supply store.

Know Before You Go

The collective of shops and galleries in the Nicholas Building are accessed through the Cathedral Arcade. Visit on Open Studio days to get a behind-the-scenes peek into the artists’ studios.

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