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Reale Albergo dei Poveri, Naples, Italy

Construction of the Reale Albergo dei Poveri (Royal Hospice of the Poor) on the Via Floria in Naples was begun by King Charles III in 1752, at a time of growing poverty in the city. The massive scheme, designed by Ferdinando Fuge, was a huge complex which was intended to include workhouses, hospitals, orphanages, and asylums for the mentally ill, and with a large hexagonal church at its centre. Behind its massive facade, six storeys high and over 300 metres in length, the plans originally envisaged the facilities at the rear arranged around five large square courtyards, with a total of five thousand inmates able to be accommodated in a self-sufficient community. Although building work continued until 1829, only the church and three of the courtyards were completed. The section that was finished continued in use until the Second World War and, over the years, was wmployed for a variety of functions, including hospitals, industrial training schools, and housing some of the city's archives. After the war, part of the building was converted into flats to house needy families.

Albergo dei Poveri, Naples, 2015. © Peter Higginbotham.

Albergo dei Poveri, Naples, 2015. © Peter Higginbotham.

Albergo dei Poveri, Naples, 2015. © Peter Higginbotham.

Albergo dei Poveri, Naples, 2015. © Peter Higginbotham.

Albergo dei Poveri, Naples, 2015. © Peter Higginbotham.

Albergo dei Poveri, Naples, 2015. © Peter Higginbotham.

At the time of writing (2015) much of the building has lost its roof and has been suffering from decay. Since 2001, various piecemeal renovation schemes and plans for new uses have been attempted. The main facade has been rejuvenated although some experts suggest that white finish currently applied to its surface should actually have been pink.

The exterior of the building shows signs of providing shelter for some present-day visitors.

Albergo dei Poveri, Naples, 2015. © Peter Higginbotham.

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