Tag Archives: hospital

Ruinas Hospital San Nicolás de Bari

Ruinas Del Hospital San Nicolás de Bari/ Ruins of the Hospital San Nicolas de Bari

The Hospital San Nicolás de Bari, located in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo, was built between 1503 and 1508 by order of the Governor Nicolas de Ovando. It was the first hospital and church built from stone in the New World and is a UNESCO World Heritage protected site.

The entrance to the Ruinas Del Hospital San Nicolás de Bari and the Iglesia Altagracia next to the ruins.
The entrance to the Ruinas Del Hospital San Nicolás de Bari and the Iglesia Altagracia next to the ruins.

The Templo y Hospital of San Nicolas de Bari was originally built in November 1503. It was located in the original settlement on the other side of Rio Ozama. When the settlement moved the hospital was rebuilt at its present location. It is said that the hospital was built atop the home of a black woman who nursed the sick.

Governor Nicolas de Ovando ordered the hospital to be rebuilt promptly because there was such a great need. Sickness and disease were prevalent due to the heat, insects and lack of medicines and treatment knowledge. The hospital and doctors center along with the adjoining church, Iglesia Altagracia, was funded entirely by contributions from the more affluent people of the colony.

The front of the Ruinas Del Hospital San Nicolás de Bari.
The front of the Ruinas Del Hospital San Nicolás de Bari.

Changes Throughout The Years

The original hospital was a palm hut. The ladies of the colony who had the desire would come and take care of the sick as a charity offering. This palm building was only able to hold about six patients.

All that remains of the Hospital San Nicolas De Bari.
All that remains of the Hospital San Nicolas De Bari.

A stone building replaced the original palm structure in 1519. Construction of this state of the art hospital made of stone and brick was complete in 1527. Only a small chapel remains of the second building.

Some of the original pillars are saved inside the ruins of the hospital.
Some of the original pillars are saved inside the ruins of the hospital.

The third hospital was built from 1533 to 1556. It was much larger and could hold about fifty patients. This building took a beating from the Pirate Francis Drake in 1586. The profiteer burned and destroyed the medical center and stole its contents including documents and many treasures of the church.

San Nicolás de Bari also served as a military hospital but continued to disintegrate due to hurricanes and earthquakes. Even though the building was in ill repair it continued to be used.

The archway of the hospital San Nicolas de Bari still remains
The archway of the hospital still remains

Finally, after the Restoration in 1863, the hospital was abandoned and left to decay. The walls were further destroyed when the chapel, the Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia, adjoining the decaying hospital was rebuilt in the 1930’s. At this time some walls were knocked down because they were in danger of falling.

Parrots and Pigeons nesting in the walls of the Ruins of San Nicolas De Bari
Parrots and Pigeons nesting in the walls of the Ruins of San Nicolas De Bari

San Nicolas de Bari Today

Now, when you enter what is left of the walls of the hospital you can still see a cross-shaped outline on the faded blue floor tile. The holes in the interior walls are nesting homes for the local pigeon and parrot population (they get very loud during mating season). On the exterior wall high up is a very large active beehive.

The beehive on the exterior wall of the Ruins of San Nicolas De Bari
The beehive on the exterior wall of the Ruins of San Nicolas De Bari

Location:

From Calle el Conde turn away from the sea onto Calle Hostos. The Ruins and Iglesia Altagracia are located between Calle Mercedes and Calle Luperón.

Iglesia San Lazaro

Iglesia y Hospital de San Lazaro / Church and Hospital of San Lazaro

The church was built in 1573 to be a resource to mediate with and convert the indigenous Taino population. It fast became a hospital for persons of limited resources, in simpler terms, the poor and destitute. It served these who suffered a multitude of contagious diseases of whom most were lepers. There were 20 beds.

Iglesia San Lazaro

In 1650 the hospital was run by Jerónimo de Alcocer. In 1743 the hospital had 20 beds and was divided into sections for the men and women. The men got two rooms and the ladies got one room.

The hospital was not a pleasant place. As the city grew it was used less because of the proximity to the colony and the diseased humans that were treated within the walls were just too close for comfort to the non-diseased persons living close by.

Iglesia San Lazaro

In Ruins

The building was ruined in the earthquake of 1751 and during the rebuilding the people gave it the name the “Chapel of the Raggedy Beggars” until it was finally rebuilt in 1759.

During the restoration of the building in 1880’s many skeletons were found. Many of them showed evidence of leprosy while others showed no traces of the disease. Many had other diseases and some had no traces of any abnormality. They were just victims of the bad practices of this notorious hospital.

Iglesia San Lazaro on Calle Santome

Directions:

From Calle el Conde turn north on Santomé. Go about 2 blocks between Santiago Rodrigues and Juan Isidro Perez near Calle Restauracion in Zona Colonial

La Capilla de San Andrés

La Capilla de San Andrés / The Chapel of San Andrés

La Capilla de San Andrés was the second hospital to be built in the colonial city of Santo Domingo. It was the first charity hospital in the Dominican Republic.

La Capilla de San Andrés, La Capilla and Hospital Padre Billini.
La Capilla de San Andrés, La Capilla and Hospital Padre Billini.

The Chapel of San Andrés is built next to the Chapel Padre Billini and the Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen. All seem to blend together to almost form one structure. The use of brick as its major building material made this chapel a marvel of its time.

The wooden sculpture inside the chapel is very unique. Here, it is told, is the place where the people of Santo Domingo conspired and planned their revolt over the Haitian occupation in 1844.

The Capilla de San Andrés and the Capilla Padre Billini blended into the Hospital de la Beneficencia. This was the first charity hospital in the Dominican Republic, later known as Hospital San Andrés. We now know the hospital as Hospital Docente Padre Billini located on Calle Santomé in the Colonial Zone.

Location:

From Calle el Conde turn south on Sanchez. Go 1 block to Calle Arzobispo Nouel. It is nestled between the Hospital Billini and Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen.