Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale"

University of Naples "L'Orientale" (Italian: Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale"), is a university located in Naples, Italy. It was founded in 1732 by Matteo Ripa and is organized in 4 Faculties. It is the oldest school of Sinology and Oriental Studies of the European continent and the main university in Italy specialized in the study of non-European languages and cultures, with research and studies agreements with universities from all over the world. It is one of the most prestigious universities in the world regarding Asian cultures and languages.

University of Naples "L'Orientale"
Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale"
M Ripa.gif
Latin: Institutum Orientalis Neapolitanum
Established1732; 290 years ago (1732)
RectorRoberto Tottoli
Students10,293 (2010/2011)
Sports teamsCUS Napoli


The Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale" is the oldest school of Sinology and Oriental Studies of the European continent.


The name "L'Orientale" is an indication to the origins of the institution. In the mid-17th century, the Manchus established the Qing Empire in China and started a remarkable period of openness towards the west. This included welcoming Christian missionaries and priests. One such person was the missionary, Matteo Ripa, of the Propaganda Fide, from the Kingdom of Naples, who worked as a painter and copper-engraver at the imperial court of the Kangxi Emperor between 1711 and 1723. He returned to Naples from China with four young Chinese Christians, all teachers of their native language; they formed the nucleus of what would become the "Chinese Institute" of Naples, sanctioned by Pope Clement XII in 1732 to teach Chinese to missionaries and thus advance the propagation of Christianity in China.

The school buildings comprised the Complesso dei Cinesi located at the boundary of Capodimonte and the Rione Sanità. What was formerly a private palace had been converted into a monastery and church dedicated to Saint Frances of Rome. Under Matteo Ripa, the complex became a seminary for missionaries to China.

The school also would educate experts for the Ostend Company in Indian and Chinese languages.

Transformations starting in the 19th-centuryEdit

After the unification of Italy in 1861, the institution was transformed into the "Royal Asian College" and other languages such as Russian, Hindustani, and Persian were added to the curriculum. The original buildings also were used as a school for orphans in 1897, and in 1910 into the Elena d'Aosta hospital.

The institution then became a secular school for the study of eastern languages in general, and then, over the course of decades, African languages and, indeed, all modern European languages. Today more than 50 languages are taught.

Architecture and decorationEdit

The main entrance to the institute has a frescoed coat of arms of the institute with a half bust of Matteo Ripa sculpted by Leonardo Di Candia.

The domed church of the Holy Family of the Chinese (Sacra Famiglia dei Cinesi) was built in 1732,[1] and refurbished in 1814. The single nave leads to a main altar with marble cherubs sculpted by Angelo Viva. The main altarpiece depicting a Holy Family adored by two of the first Chinese Seminarians (1769) was painted by Antonio Sarnelli.[2] Other paintings were by followers or pupils of Francesco De Mura, including his brother Gennaro. Four saints carved in wood were designed by Francesco Solimena. The Madonna della Misericordia was painted by Stanislao Lista. The sacristy has sculptures by Giuseppe Sammartino.


L'Orientale moved into its current headquarters, Palazzo Giusso, in 1932. However, like most universities in Italy, the IUO has no single main "campus," but is spread around the city at a number of different sites. There are several buildings that make up the teaching facilities of L'Orientale. These include Palazzo Giusso in the historic center of Naples; the large converted monastery of Santa Maria Porta Coeli near the Naples cathedral; and the new Palazzo Mediterraneo on via Marina. Palazzo Mediterraneo now houses CILA, an acronym for Centro Interdipartimentale dei servizi Linguistici ed Audiovisivi— the "language lab," an award-winning facility that has satellite TV for international programming, an impressive recording studio, and computers for instant access to the Internet.

Four faculties:

These are further sub-divided into nine areas:

  • Asian Studies
  • Classic world and Ancient Mediterranean
  • African and Arabic countries
  • Oriental Europe
  • Social Sciences
  • Philosophy and Politics
  • Comparative Studies
  • American cultural and linguistic studies
  • European literature and linguistic studies

Main Library:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Carlo Cerano (1860). Giovanni Battista Chiarini (ed.). Notizie del bello dell'antico e del curioso della città di Napoli. Vol. 5. Naples: Stamperia di Agostino di Pascale. p. 379. This reference says church opened in 1729.
  2. ^ Celano, p. 380.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 40°50′42″N 14°15′18″E / 40.845°N 14.255°E / 40.845; 14.255