The history of the Fuggerei began in the year 1514 with the targeted acquisition of parcels of land. Construction began in 1516; in 1523 there were already 52 buildings. After 1525, Jakob Fugger's successors expanded the settlement to Ochsengasse. In 1581/82, Herrengasse was extended to Jakoberstaße and the St. Markus Church was built.
The family went on to successfully manage the foundation for more than 500 years, over the course of many generations and difficult times:
In the 17th century, as a result of war, plague and hunger, Augsburg lost more than half of its residents and experienced destruction and hardship. In 1642, two buildings in the Fuggerei were completely destroyed; 28 buildings were only partially inhabitable. The settlement had to be significantly renovated. This task was predominantly carried out by the residents.
In 1944, over half of the Fuggerei buildings fell victim to air raids on Augsburg. Thanks to the bunker that had wisely been built in 1943, almost none of the residents were injured. After the war, rebuilding began. From the 50s until 1971, land purchases expanded the settlement again by one third, bringing it to its current size.
The foundation's endowment funds were always at risk as long as they were being put to use in the Fugger firm. There was always the possibility that national bankruptcy and difficult business phases could lead to a loss in the interest revenue that provided funding for the foundations. For the sake of risk minimisation, the money was therefore distributed partly among external companies and partly among several smaller borrowers. In 1660, all of the assets were finally invested in manorial estates. It was only later that this revealed itself to be a prescient and wise move. The systematic expansion of forestry in the region has made it possible to generate good, stable earnings for the last 200 years, and which will continue into the future. It was the foundations' engagement with the land that allowed them to withstand the monetary crises of the 20th century.
The Fuggerei was also put in serious danger on several occasions due to political conditions: In 1806 and again during the Third Reich, the foundation was threatened with losing its independent administration. In 1806, Augsburg lost its status as a free imperial city and became, like the Fugger estates, part of the Bavarian kingdom. Only through skilful negotiation was it possible to save the foundations' right to independent administration – one of the essential elements that has allowed them to continue existing to this day.
Construction is still continually taking place on and in the Fuggerei today. Normal building maintenance, including renovation, repairs and restoration of the buildings is a year-round task that is financed by income from forestry, real estate and entrance fees.