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26 June 2011 / leggypeggy

Annual rent—88 cents

A row of Fuggerei apartments. Each dwelling has a small garden and most residents have little sheds.

The Fuggerei in Augsburg is the world’s oldest social settlement. It has been around continuously since 1521, when it was founded by Jakob Fugger the Rich—wouldn’t you love to be referred to as So-and-So The Rich? Fugger made his money as a banker, and Poor John is drawn to the theory that he learned double-entry bookkeeping in Venice.

The concept for the Fuggerei was groundbreaking when the settlement was first created, and it remains an exceptional and outstanding effort. From the outset, Fugger insisted that residents, although needy, not be allowed to become paupers. For example, to minimise the sense of poverty, each apartment has its own entrance. The bell pull at each entrance is individually designed—allegedly so that at night, on the unlit lanes, residents could ‘feel’ their way home to the right doorway.

The Fuggerei was heavily damaged during the bombing of Augsburg in World War II, and rebuilding began quite promptly. An air-raid shelter that was built there soon after the war began now houses a permanent exhibition, The Fuggerei in WWII—Destruction and Reconstruction.

Inside the St Markus Catholic Church at the Fuggerei.

Today, the Fuggerei remains a collection of eight lanes and seven gates. It is a city within and city, and has its own church and city walls. At present, 150 people live in the 140 apartments in 67 buildings. The settlement is financed exclusively through endowment. Annual rent was—and still is—the equivalent of one Rhine guilder (or about 88 euro cents). Residents are also expected to offer three daily prayers, including an Ava Maria, for the founder and the Fugger family.

The most prominent resident ever has been master builder Franz Mozart, great-grandfather of the composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

See www.fugger.de/ for more details. The website has a variety of translations available.

One Comment

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  1. Louise M Oliver / Jun 26 2011 4:25 pm

    What a wonderful idea! This concept should be used to provide housing for disadvantaged people all over the world. Most countries have at least some very wealthy people who could endow this type of project. Although I love the arts, I would much rather see people provided with housing and some sense of dignity than have money for the arts.

    Like

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