San Giovanni e Paolo Civil hospital

The San Giovanni e Paolo Civil hospital was previous known as Scuola Grande di San Marco, which is a Renaissance building located in Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, in Castello district.
The term “Scuola” (school) refers to an ancient secular institution that chose a patron saint and to which citizens of the middle class adhered, while patricians adhered to the “Scuole Grandi”.
The “Scuole Grandi” were destined for charitable works and public assistance and, thanks to their importance and generous donations, they had a lot of cash at their disposal, which they used to embellish their premises with works of art by famous artists, or were invested in real estate and loans.
The prestige of the Great Schools was such that, in some moments of crisis, the Serenissima asked for their help to find the funds necessary to finance the wars in progress.

The Scuola Grande di San Marco was the headquarters of the confraternity of the “battuti” (beaten), established in 1260. The first seat of the confraternity was the church (now demolished) of Santa Croce, in today’s Giardini di Papadopoli (near p.le Roma) with the name of Scuola dei Battuti. Over time, the institution had become so important that it took the name of the patron saint of the city and built the most imposing of the schools on Venetian soil.

In 1437, the Dominicans of the adjacent Basilica of Saints John and Paul granted a nearby area for the construction of the new headquarters, which was devastated by a major fire on March 31, 1485, because of a candle left lit. In twenty years the Scuola was rebuilt, under the direction of the architect Pietro Lombardo, and the marble facade is a perfect example of the Renaissance style.

In the lower part, on the left side to the sides of the grand door, stand two lions that come out of a field of perspective.

It is thought that the idea was taken from the entrance to the Arsenal, with its pair of lions guarding the entrance, with the intention of providing protection to a place very important to the Venetians

On the right side of the facade two bas-reliefs by Tullio Lombardo decorate the entrance to the Chapel of Peace, where there was a Byzantine image from Constantinople in 1349, which was believed to be capable of performing miracles. Inside, the Sala dell’Albergo became one of the most spectacular examples of the Venetian Renaissance, thanks to works by Gentile and Giovanni Bellini among the others.

Following the fall of the Republic in 1797, and the subsequent Napoleonic sacking, many of the School’s works were lost.
In 1807 the confraternity was suppressed under Napoleon, and the building became first an Austrian military hospital and then a civilian hospital.
Today it is known as the San Giovanni e Paolo Civil hospital (or better known as just “Civil Hospital”), where Venetians and tourists visiting the city go to treat themselves, passing through the solemn atrium, with its series of columns and alternating internally tree-lined cloisters and new modern wings. Everywhere, visible especially at night, there are many cats that live there in peace and protected, in the heart of the city that has always loved them so much.

On March 31, 2019, the city mobilized for its hospital, which was in danger of being declassified because of the few inhabitants who still live in the historic center, with a major demonstration in Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, in front of the facade of the hospital.
The event culminated in a collective flash mob in which the Venetians laid on the ground, symbolizing the danger of dying without a working hospital in the old town (of course I was there… I wouldn’t miss it!) This action helped to save the hospital, which is now active and has been restored in many parts.