Ostentatious Ospedale (Venezia 216)

As befits the church were the funerals of many of the Doges took place, San Zanipolo (Santi Giovanni e Paulo) is vast.  One of the largest in the city.  It is also one of the plainest being a huge edifice of red brick.  The façade sports a couple of columns liberated from the island of Torcello, but whatever was planned to complete the job didn’t take place.  It sits there as if flayed.

Which is all the more disappointing when your next door neighbour is dressed in a flamboyant marble concoction complete with trompe-l’oeil entrance corridors.  Scuola Grande di San Marco, one of the six great fraternity buildings in the city.  These “schools” played a key role in the city’s cultural life, and this building included paintings by Tintoretto as part of its interior décor.  When the city was occupied by the Austrians in 1819 they converted the building to a hospital, and it retains that function to this day, though predominantly in a complex behind the Scuola building which now includes a museum of medical equipment, bridging the gap between both of its identities.

The main hospital entrance is further north, but all the same, there can’t be many hospitals in the world with an exterior like this…


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