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The Oriental and the first Chinese community in Europe

by Federico Quagliuolo
Eastern Europe is the first Chinese community in Europe

welcome to Ascent of the Chinese, in the heart of the Health, a street famous for hosting the first headquarters of theEastern University.
The road ends with one abandoned flowered villa, which is more than 500 years old: it is the former convent of the Olivetans, what, in 1724 became the Real College of Chinese.

In fact, rewind the tape of about 250 years: in the extreme periphery of Health various religious institutes began to build wonderful villas, almost all destroyed or abandoned in the last fifty years (such as the gigantic Pontano boarding school alla Conocchia, today a ruin). One of these villas was destined for theeducation of Orientals in Christian values, in addition to training of interpreters to establish diplomatic relations with Ottomans, Indians, Chinese and Japanese.

Eastern Europe is the first Chinese community in Europe
The ruins of the Pontano boarding school


And so, for a hundred years, these steps were the protagonists of a comings and goings of missionaries religious and foreigners who came to Naples to get closer to Western culture.
All up to 1888, year in which it was closed the religious college and the lay Oriental University opened, as we know it today. And also the headquarters moved to the historic center, right after the Renovation.

Naples, therefore, is the first city in the western world to have seen the birth of a school dedicated exclusively to the studies of Chinese and Japanese culture. On the other hand, the fascination that the East exercised on our city can also be found in many other small details, from Capodimonte porcelain, which are born precisely to import ancient oriental art, to Chinese Room of the Palace of Portici, with its beautiful designs.
And so, together with the oldest public university in the world, Naples can also boast the world's oldest friendship with the Chinese people, since 1724.

-Federico Quagliuolo

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