One of the landmarks of Naples is undoubtedly the Real Albergo dei Poveri, an imposing building recognisable to any citizen of the city. A structure also known as Palazzo Fuga and in the popular rumour called Reclusorio or Serraglio, as signifying a sense of confinement.

The Real Albergo dei Poveri is one of the greatest 18th-century works in Europe.

The history of the construction of the Real Albergo dei Poveri in Naples

In the mid-eighteenth century there was a desire to invest the Kingdom's finances in improving the city of Naples. In fact, in 1749, King Charles III of Bourbon called Ferdinando Fuga to the city for one of his ideas.

An almost revolutionary idea for the time, a hotel dedicated to the poor. This was the first step towards the construction of the Albergo dei Poveri. An idea that was as simple as it was socially useful, a well-designed structure that was ready to receive the masses of poor people present in the Kingdom at that time.

The eighteenth century era was ideal for such a project. The idea of the palace was very expensive, both in time and money, and it remained unfinished. In fact, what is one of the largest structures built in Europe in the eighteenth century was scaled down from the initial project, reduced by 80%. The change came with the accession of Ferdinand IV to the throne. Space was taken away from the bedrooms and more room was made available to house machinery and facilities for manufacturing and handicrafts.

The social aims and objectives of the hotel remained unchanged for a long time, and from 1802 it also began to accommodate the orphans of the Santa Casa dell'Annunziata. The orphans were given a roof over their heads and were also provided with education and employment.

Although a few years later it was labelled Serraglio, a sort of prison where the guests were subjected to a re-education process. Especially for minors.

Later other cultural and social organisations were housed in the hotel: a music school, a cinema and a gymnasium. A few years later, small sections of institutions such as the Firemen Brigade, the State Archives of Naples and a court to judge minors also entered.

In the mid-twentieth century, the structure suffered damage with the collapse of a wing of the building, but the greatest damage was caused by the 1980 earthquake. Unfortunately, there were also casualties. The municipality acquired the property and twenty years later began a process of restoration and reconstruction that has not yet been completed.

The architecture of the Real Albergo dei Poveri

The initial plan was for the facility to accommodate as many as eight thousand people, divided into men, women, girls and boys. These categories could only be in contact during work, totally separated at other times of the day.

The Real Albergo dei Poveri has a 400-metre façade, even larger than that of the Royal Palace of Caserta. The entire structure covers an area of 103,000 square metres. The first features to be noticed are the five sets of windows and a double flight of steps at the main entrance. Also at the entrance is an epigraph <REGIVM TOTIVS REGNI PAVPERVM HOSPICIVM>, by Alessio Simmaco Mazzocchi (a humanist of the 18th century).

Beyond the entrance we find the interior, divided into three courtyards, where the central courtyard must have been the base of the large church, and the two side courtyards two gardens. Adorned with flowerbeds and recreational spaces dedicated to sports. Today one of the two has been reinvented as a car park.

Inside the building there are 430 rooms, not all of which are the same size. The largest ones measure 40 x 8 x 8 metres.

Stay in the centre of Naples near the Real Albergo dei Poveri

Less than 600 metres from the Real Albergo dei Poveri you can stay in a magnificent structure located in the heart of Naples. In fact, in the centre we find LH51 Neapolitan bed and breakfast, the name comes from the street where it is located: Via Colonello Carlo Lahalle, 51.

The structure offers four different types of rooms: red (dedicated to the lucky horn, symbol of the city), blue (dedicated to the sea of Naples), green and pink (two different types of colours but both designed and furnished in a modern style).