This construction of the Italian city of Naples is a typical production of the many that were made during the second half of the 19th century throughout the European continent. And it is that although many similar galleries have been lost, there are also other similar examples that are still standing. In Italy, without going any further, the Vittoria Emmanuelle II Gallery is preserved very close to the Milanese Duomo. Or in Belgium, in Brussels, also in the very center of the capital and coincidentally very close to the Brussels cathedral, are the Royal Galleries Saint Hubert.
Umberto I Gallery of Naples
All of them used to be the result of the urban renovations that were carried out in many places and that were modeled on the interventions that had been carried out in the city of Paris.
In the case of the Umberto I Gallery in Naples it involved the reconstruction of an old downtown block that had been demolished after a terrible cholera epidemic that devastated the city in 1884. By the way, only the Santa Brígida church where the painter Luca Giordano, who painted here, is buried the frescoes of the dome, the sacristy and various altarpieces. An artist who was born and buried in Naples but in between left his work scattered around places like the Escorial Monastery in Spain.
Of the work of thegallery what stands out most is its large glass dome that rises up to 56 meters high. That dome was designed by the architect Paulo Boubée and was to become the epicenter of the cultural and social life of Naples at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the following century.
That was the spirit of this type of gallery where cafes and restaurants were concentrated, as well as shops and even places for art exhibitions. In other words, it was the model of the shopping center at the time. That was indeed done in places like this where architecturally every last detail is taken care of, both in its external facades adorned with sculptures and reliefs, and in its interiors capable of combining historicist taste with buildings that organize their floors based on neo-Renaissance elements but that culminate with that most modern dome and vaults in which metal and glass are used, the most innovative materials of the time. In other words, in the same construction the nineteenth-century taste for the neo-revisionist art movements of the past and the new architectural trends are mixed.
In short, the Umberto I Gallery became the meeting place for the cream of the Neapolitan society of the time, something that has now been recovered after a few years of certain abandonment.