Galleria Umberto I

Shopping Centre in Naples

Interno Cupola Galleria Umberto I
CC BY-SA 3.0 / pietro scerrato

Galleria Umberto I, a stunning architectural gem from the 19th century, stands as one of Italy’s most beloved public shopping arcades. This grand arcade in Naples not only serves as a bustling center for shopping and socializing but also beautifully showcases the period’s innovative use of glass and iron, making it a must-visit landmark for both locals and tourists alike.

Alongside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, it represents a pinnacle of the era’s architectural design and urban planning. Constructed between 1887 and 1890, the Galleria was a key project in the extensive urban renewal initiative known as the “risanamento,” meaning “making healthy again,” which continued up until World War I. Designed by Emanuele Rocco in the Stile Umbertino, the structure features architectural elements reminiscent of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, showcasing a blend of modernity and elegance from that era.

Named after Umberto I, the King of Italy at the time of its construction, the Galleria was envisioned as a multifunctional space. It successfully integrates businesses, shops, cafés, and social areas within its public spaces, while also offering private residential spaces in the apartments located on the third floor.

Architecturally, the Galleria is a spacious, cross-shaped structure, topped with a striking glass dome supported by 16 metal ribs. It features four iron and glass-vaulted wings, with one wing facing the bustling via Toledo (now via Roma), a major downtown thoroughfare, and another providing access to the San Carlo Theatre. This configuration enhances its status as a central hub of Neapolitan civic life, which it has reclaimed after a period of decay.

Additionally, the Galleria Umberto I holds cultural significance as it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Historic Centre of Naples. The gallery also serves as the setting for “The Gallery” (1947), a novel by American writer John Horne Burns based on his experiences as an American soldier in Naples shortly after the city’s liberation, further embedding the Galleria in both local and international cultural contexts.

The Galleria Umberto I appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Naples!

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Visiting Galleria Umberto I

Address: Galleria Umberto I, Via Santa Brigida, Naples, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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