House Crazy Sarah is a firm believer that in order for humans to live fulfilling, thriving lives, they must have a home that is safe, beautiful, AND affordable.
The Fuggerei in the city of Augsburg, Bavaria (about an hour from Munich), is a historic place that checks all these crucial boxes.
The Fuggerei is a beautiful walled enclave that resembles a picturesque medieval village. It is known as the world’s oldest and longest surviving social housing project. Most notably, the rent has not changed in 500 years!
Residents pay about $1.30 (USD) — or 0.88 euros — per year for their apartments. In return, they must commit to daily spiritual reflection.
About 160 residents currently live in the Fuggerei, ranging from retirees on small pensions to low-income young adults.
The Fuggerei was founded in the year 1516! Within ten years, 52 housing units had been built, as well as a church for the residents.
The Fuggerei is named after its founder, Jakob Fugger the Younger (also known as “Jakob Fugger the Rich”). His intention was to create a desirable place where the needy citizens of Augsburg could be housed in a safe, secure setting.
In exchange for low rent, the residents were and are still required to live a life of gratitude and devotion by making three daily prayers for the current owners of the Fuggerei — the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, and the Nicene Creed – and, to work a part-time job in the community.
The Fuggerei is centered around the Catholic faith and in order to qualify as a resident, applicants must be practicing Catholics.
The other two conditions to live there remain the same as they were 500 years ago: one must have lived at least two years in Augsburg, and be indigent but without debt.
The five gates were locked at night and continue to be locked precisely at 10:00 pm, making the Fuggerei similar to a small medieval fortress.
The red clay tile roofs and baked yellow walls covered in vibrant green ivy make this an idyllic and desirable place to live.
If a resident is late getting back after 10:00 pm, they must tip the guards to be let in.
Housing units consist of 500–700 square foot apartments, but because each unit has its own street entrance, it is similar to living in a townhouse.
Each apartment includes a kitchen, a parlour, a bedroom, a bathroom/laundry, and a spare room.
Many ground-floor apartments have a small garden and a garden shed, while upper-floor apartments have an attic.
All apartments now have modern conveniences such as television and running water.
Below are some floorplans of typical apartments in the Fuggerei:
One single ground-floor apartment is uninhabited because it serves as a museum that is open to the public.
This model unit is decorated as it would have been some 500 years ago.
Guests pay an entry fee to get in and can also tour through the scenic streets of the Fuggerei.
Another unique feature is the doorbells. They all have different shapes, dating back to before the invention of streetlights when residents could only identify their door by feeling the handle in the dark of night.
Let’s have a look inside these adorable dwellings…
The interiors are all quaint and cozy but apart from that, they vary as much as the residents.
A number of the residents enjoy inviting media members into their homes to take photos since this is such as special and historic place.
The people who reside here have such pride in their living space.
A sad part of the Fuggerei’s history is that large parts of it were destroyed or heavily damaged in bombing raids during the Second World War.
You can see the devastating cost of war in these old photos.
Residents sheltered in bunkers that still exist to this day.
Visitors can go down and tour the bunkers and view relics from the war there.
The Fuggerei has been lovingly rebuilt and maintained. It remains a place of history, fellowship, devotion, and safety, even 500 years after its founding.
Residents can sleep well at night, knowing the old walls of the Fuggerei will protect them, and their rent will never go up!
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