Gallery Umberto I

Gallery Umberto I in Naples was built between 1887 and 1890. It represents one of the most famous results of the Risanamento (renewal) ─ the great urban planning work. Redevelopment radically changed the city in the late 19th century, adding new squares, streets and buildings to replace existing ones.

Gallery Umberto I

Hidden problem

The new plan was officially motivated by a cholera outbreak in 1884. City leaders believed that the epidemic was caused by the decay of buildings widespread in the labyrinthine alleys of historic districts such as Chiaia, Pendino, Vicaria, Mercato and Porto. The idea of creating the Umberto I Gallery attracted both praise and criticism: for example, the writer Matilda Serao was convinced that it was not a real reconstruction of the city, but rather a cover-up for problems in Naples.

The greatness of the building

Gallery Umberto I

Gallery Umberto I has the shape of a cross with orthogonal, almost equal branches. The central octagon is protected by a glass and iron dome almost sixty meters high, designed by Paolo Bube. As architectural historian Cesare de Seta noted, the Galleria Umberto I immediately became "the best meeting place for journalists and writers, as well as an excellent place for business, theaters, cafes and nightclubs." This stimulated the literary creativity of many Italian and foreign artists: for example, Raffaele Viviani dedicated part of his 1930 La bohème des comics to this special corner of Naples.

Symbol of Naples

The Umberto I Gallery was created to stimulate trade and become a symbol of the city's regeneration. It still has numerous cafes, businesses, bookstores, music stores, and fashion stores. It once housed theaters and restaurants, and was truly the living room of bourgeois Naples.

One of these theaters was the legendary "Salone Margherita", home to the local version of a cafe-club. The Margherita Theater was well known in the Galleria Umberto I and is located in the lower part of the building. This place was the seat of nightlife for a good twenty years for the Neapolitans. Many prominent personalities visited here, such as D'Annunzio, Crispi, Serao, Scarfoglio. But Margaret Hall began to fall into disrepair on the eve of the First World War due to competition from other theatres. The fate of the landmark has become something of a metaphor for Naples, meaning that there are good times and bad.

Gallery Umberto I Gallery Umberto I Gallery Umberto I Gallery Umberto I Gallery Umberto I Gallery Umberto I
Gallery Umberto I - geographical coordinates
Latitude: 40.838441
Longitude: 14.249482


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