Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 2: Milan, Part2

December 1, 2020


Former Maggiore Hospital

In Milan,which has historically had a high population density, epidemics frequently spread.

Within the fortress of Milan, there were numerous small hospitals and care facilities established by clergy scattered throughout.

In the mid-15th century, Duke Francesco Sforza and his wife undertook the construction of the Maggiore Hospital to consolidate these medical facilities into one large institution.

Francesco Sforza succeeded the extinct Visconti family in the early 15th century and became the first Milanese duke of the Sforza family.

The architect Antonio Averlino, who designed the Sforza Castle, also designed the Maggiore Hospital.

Construction continued for two centuries and the initial completion occurred in the 17th century.

Due to the prolonged construction period, the architectural style transitioned from Gothic to Renaissance.

The purpose of establishing the hospital was to alleviate the suffering of the poor and sick.

The bedside was equipped with built-in cupboards featuring foldable tables.

Facilities such as toilets and bathrooms were so modern for the time that they became a model for hospitals of that era.

Subsequently, during the 19th century, expansions were made to the facilities through donations from the citizens of Milan, all designed by top architects.

Its grandeur earned it the nickname "Ca' Granda" (the Great House).

The long outer wall adorned with Gothic-Renaissance-style terracotta is a sight to behold.

Surrounded by a beautiful colonnade (a corridor with red brick arches), there is a magnificent garden built in the 17th century, known as the "Arboreal Courtyard."

The hospital, which reflected the cutting edge of its time, was heavily damaged during World War II bombings in 1943.

Subsequently, it was handed over to the University of Milan at the end of the war.

After the war, the building was beautifully restored and became the campus of the University of Milan starting from 1958.

The Maggiore Hospital has since established two new hospital facilities within the city of Milan and continues its legacy.

The Christian ideals upon which the hospital was founded are still upheld as tradition.

It is also regarded as an educational institution for medical students, trainee doctors, and clinical physicians.

Many Italian doctors have a background of training at the Maggiore Hospital.