In the heart of Augsburg, Germany, lies a hidden gem of history and compassion: the Fuggerei. Established in 1516 by Jakob Fugger, a prominent merchant, this walled enclave holds the title of the oldest public housing complex still in operation. What makes it even more intriguing is its unique rental requirement: a mere 88 cents per year and three daily prayers.

The Fuggerei, a testament to enduring charity, was Fugger’s vision of providing affordable homes for those in need. Stretching across 67 houses and 147 apartments, this community has stood the test of time, surviving even the devastation of World War II bombings and being rebuilt in its original style.

But the Fuggerei isn’t just about low rent. Fugger’s vision was about maintaining a community with specific values. To become a resident, one must be Catholic, have lived in Augsburg for at least two years, and have become indigent without debt. This requirement reflects Fugger’s intent to create a space where privacy and dignity could be maintained, even in times of hardship, fostering a sense of community and resilience.

Residents live in apartments that range from 500 to 700 square feet, each with a unique doorbell to identify their home. The ground-floor apartments boast small gardens, while the upper floors have attics. Modern conveniences like television and running water are included, blending historical charm with contemporary comforts.

The Fuggerei’s commitment to its founding principles extends to its operation. It is supported by a charitable trust, ensuring that the rent and rules remain unchanged. The trust, carefully managed with income primarily from forestry holdings, is a testament to the foresight and commitment of the Fugger family.

The Fuggerei is called “a village within a city,” offering a serene escape from the bustling city life. It stands as a symbol of social responsibility and communal care, a place where history, Catholic faith, and charity intersect to create a unique living experience!

Photo credit: Konstantin Yolshin /
Get our inspiring content delivered to your inbox every morning - FREE!