Friday, September 20, 2013

Santa Maria della Scala

The Santa Maria della Scala was one of Europe’s first hospitals and is one of the oldest hospitals still surviving in the world.  Siena lies on the Via Francigena, the main pilgrimage road to Rome, and the Hospital was probably founded to accommodate the pilgrims and other travelers who passed through by the canons of the Duomo.  

According to legend, the Hospital was founded in 898 by a cobbler named Sorore. However, the first known document mentioning it is a “deed of gift” from March 29, 1090. The first rector, Beringerio, was said to be appointed in 1200.

In the 1330s Santa Maria della Scala commissioned many very important interior and exterior frescoes as well as several significant altar pieces.  Around 1335 a final set of scenes from the life of the Virgin played an important role in the religious imagery frescoes of the Hospital Church Santa Maria della Scala
There are nearly 12,000 square meters of paths covering the renovated parts of the Hospital.  Places include the Pellegrinaio, the Cappella del Manto (Chapel of the Mantle), the Sagrestia Vecchia (Old Sacristy), the Cappella della Madonna (Chapel of the Virgin Mary), and the Oratory of the Compagnia di Santa Caterina della Notte,
There is also an Archaeological Museum and catacombs that seem endless.  

From the Fonte Gaia, Jacopo della Quercia's La Temperanza (1419).
This is a great museum.  The subterranean setting is perfect for archaeology exhibits.  It is an under-worldly experience.

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